I can’t get over what I saw this past Thanksgiving. The Best Buy in Burlington had a line that was at least the length of a football field. And for what? Well, the results from my highly unscientific poll found that just about everyone in line was there to buy a 42″ Flat Screen LCD TV for $199.99 as soon as the doors opened for business at midnight. That’s a serious deal. I get it. But I was still surprised to see that many people.
Some had tents. To ensure a good place in line, some even skipped Thanksgiving dinner all together. So it’s safe to say Best Buy’s promotion worked. The bait of amazing door buster prices lured this mass of people, eager to save a buck. (See video footage from that night below)
I’m sure Best Buy had a successful promotion, but I’m not impressed. All they did is offer a price break. Sure they made money and some people walked away with really good deals. But to me pricing gimmicks tell me that the suppliers have failed to innovate. Isn’t it safe to say that just about everyone has a TV? Isn’t it also fair to assume that most people are just fine watching “X Factor” on a box set? From the box can’t I still experience shock from one of Simon’s harsh rebukes. Can’t still I still be touched by an amazing performance? Sure, the box’s resolution is nowhere near as crystal-clear as an HD flat-screen. But the quality is good enough for me to get the point of good show. So I don’t really need a new TV and no one else really does either.
So here’s my BIG IDEA. Retailers and manufacturers like Best Buy and Sharp are in a pickle. They’re now stuck with this huge commodity called television. They all do about the same thing, the same way. What’s more, most people already have TVs that work just fine right now. So no one really needs one. But the execs at Sony, Sharp, etc… keep churning them out and Best Buy keeps receiving them for retail sale. Why does keep happening? Why are there so many models on the market that don’t do much more to help us than any other TV made over the past 50 to 60 years? All these companies are in the business of applying state-of-art technology to improve our lives. So why do they stay stuck on continuously improving pixilation and screen resolution and the like when so many of us have moved on to creating good enough television of our own via the internet? Don’t they see we’re looking for much more?
The moral of this story is a big enough price cut will almost always trump current satisfaction, but a good idea never needs a holiday sale to work. That’s why products, services and experiences designed explicitly to empower customers always kick ass and almost never see their prices cut to get people in the door.