Well, well, well. What goes around, comes around. At least in the case of Sears. Sears was a market disruptor, dominant player, household name, and the originator of remote shopping back in the late 1800’s. It decoupled retail purchasing from a physical store through its catalogues, making goods and services accessible like never before throughout the U.S. Sadly, after having built a substantial store infrastructure, it is now becoming obsolete by the new remote shopping maverick, Amazon.
There is really insightful evidence of shifting customer interest, in wake of the iPhone XR launch last week. Plotting the intensity of online activity at the launch of each new iPhone since iPhone 5, has revealed that customers are less and less enthralled with each new generation. This type of cyclicality in customer attachment is natural for all businesses, which is why you need to continuously 're-infatuate' your target audience to keep them emotionally close. It's certainly the writing on the wall for Apple right now.
A core concept of the Slingshot Framework is to enamor, deligh, and infatuate customers, so that they feel a strong emotional connection to your brand and market offering. Interestingly, a high price point can have the effect of strengthening such positive affiliation, as it implies a more exclusive and special offering. Think about Starbucks or Apple, both of which feature premium price points that actually help to drive customer attachment. And here is another example of the same phenomonon.
In the past months I have singled out United for its spectacular failures around customer service and highly publicized passenger fiascos. So, giving credit where its due, I now want to cite the airline for the exact opposite reason: It is forging ahead to eliminate a major customer pain point - and in fact they even use this very phrase in describing the initiative. Now only if they would start to target customer infatuation rather than customer satisfaction as their ultimate goal. But one step at a time.
In the appendix of my book ‘Slingshot’ under the heading ‘Radical Ideas’, I presented a way to re-imagine higher education in the U.S. Namely, to eliminate tuition altogether, which shackles students with insurmountable debt upon graduation. I cited Berea College as an example of a brave university already pursuing this path. So, I am pleased to see the current list of the ‘Best Value Colleges’ by the Wall Street Journal, as validation.