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Why Do Some Things Catch On and Others Don’t?
According to Kevin Maney in his new book, “Trade Off”, the answer to this question is that
products and services get stuck in an apathy zone. This is a place which exists between the
most pleasing experience regardless of price and the easiest experience which is also the
cheapest. Products and services that are tepid, neither super great nor very cheap and
easy to obtain . . . these products languor and die. No one buys them.
Two Extremes Succeed.
The first extreme he calls the “High Fidelity” product or service which is the total experience.
It is luxury. People naturally search for ways to identify their socio-economic position in the
world. The super-rich do it with luxury.
The second extreme he calls "Convenience" which is defined as how easy it is to get
something . . . with the caveat of a low cost. Cost is a factor for the simple reason that if
something costs less it is easy for people to buy.
The Trade Off
Between the two extremes of High Fidelity and Convenience there are all sorts of variations
and degrees. Maney agues with experiential examples, anecdotes, and quotes from
business power-houses that a successful company can’t do both. It can’t provide it’s
customers with the luxury High Fidelity and the cost savings of Convenience.
Mass Luxury? Impossible!
In fact, he goes further and says the fidelity/convenience trade off shows “mass luxury” is a
fallacy.” The mass of people are concerned with ease and cost; luxury is about the total
experience regardless of the cost. They can’t co-exist, yet . . .
There Is Always A Trade Off.
Customers continually exchange fidelity for convenience and vise versa. Decisions, choices,
and an uncertain future –that is -- life . . . means the customer is always either moving up or
down the scale toward more luxury or more convenience. This is a constant trade off that is
not static and is never fixed.
Technology is the Kicker.
Technology constantly improves both the luxury experience (fidelity) and also the ease and
cost (convenience). If a product or service is high fidelity then tech will change it to higher
fidelity. If it is convenient then tech will change it to be more convenient.
The place between fidelity (luxury) and convenience (ease + cost) he calls the “Fidelity
Belly.” This is a no-man’s land between the total experience and the cheap quick fix. No one
gets excited about a product that has no fidelity and is only somewhat convenient. If you run
a company, don’t get caught there. Don’t be tepid.
Extreme high fidelity (luxury) and extreme convenience (ease + cost) define the winners. All
successful products and services fall at the ends of the scale between these two extremes,
not in the middle. Don’t be tepid.
I found this book fascinating. The idea of a constant trade off between luxury and
convenience, and the metaphor of a “fidelity belly,” made this book a great read. Behind this
idea the author expresses his sentiment about our open transparent new society when he
“Our connection with others and our individual identity matter more to us than just about
anything else.” He adds, “All other quality/convenience factors being equal adding a social
dimension can change the prospect of a product or service.”
Now, by reading this review you’ve gotten the convenient experience of his book at a low
price, in fact for free!
If you want the fidelity experience, by the book. It will open your eyes and you’ll see your
product and service in a new light.
An excellent book! Five stars.