As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Bye-bye to buy buy

The good-old fashioned fence; venerable ancestor of online word of mouth.

The good-old fashioned fence; venerable ancestor of online word of mouth.

The Economist recently published a piece predicting permanent changes in consumer buying behavior.   Mindless consumption is out.  Thoughtful purchases are in.  As a product designer, I think that’s great. I’m all for people being more demanding of the stuff they buy.

But what is a great product producer to do, to get his or her product noticed?  I mean for the products that are really worth a person’s hard earned cash.  After all,  in a down economy people really want, even more than usual, to find the “good stuff”.  Here is the part of the article that spoke to me:

The downturn will also accelerate the use of social media, such as blogs and social-networking sites, by consumers looking for intelligence on firms and their products. As trust in brands is eroded, people will place more value on recommendations from friends. Social media make it harder for brands to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes, but they also offer canny companies a powerful new channel through which to promote their wares and test new products and pricing strategies.

On that note, we are learning at Daily Grommet that we need to talk more about how much we test and evaluate the products we discover.  To explain our recommendations.  That’s the part of what we do that people show up for–we find the “good stuff”, tell the straight scoop, and save our customers time and money.  A smart woman today told me,

You guys are like the modern equivalent of leaning over the fence and talking to your neighbor.  We know you gals at Daily Grommet have our back.  Like a friend.

It’s easy for us to live up to her trust.  We don’t know how to operate any other way.  When you only get to tell one story a day, you make darned sure it is worth listening to, and that the Grommet won’t disappoint.

2 Responses to “Bye-bye to buy buy”

  1. Daniel Weinreb

    The excellent book “Groundswell”, by Josh Bernoff and Charlotte Li, talks a lot about the way social media means that “you don’t own your own brand any more”. People will communicate over the net, even set up blogs and wikis, just to talk about your company and brand, and what they say might not be positive. These days, we all have to pay attention to this.

    I agree explaining how you test and evaluate the products would be great. Even just a little bit of that is a lot better than none. I often buy things based on ecommendations. But sometimes people recommending a product haven’t really tested it; they might just think it sounds good. Knowing that it’s really been tested, and what that testing was about, makes me much more confident about making a purchase.

    For example, consider the Food Loops — those silicone cable-tie-like things that you use to tie up food while cooking it, to replace twine. If I had just seen them in the store, I think I would have been somewhat dubious. But because Daily Grommet had tested them, I was confident enough to get several sets of them as Christmas presents for my friends who are enthusiastic cooks. Sure enough, every one of those friends liked them!


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