When you go shopping for a product which rule do you use, Good Enough or Best Available. As I was growing up and my parents were trying to raise kids and purchase those things that we needed, as well as every once in a while also purchase a few things we wanted, they used the rule of good enough to make their selections. They knew what they wanted and they were happy to find a produce that met those requirements that they could afford. It was good enough.
In Seth Godin’s Blog post The trend to “best available” he relates that:
Most customers choose between “good enough” and “best available”
My guess is that before the consumer culture took hold, good enough was the order of the day. Without a lot of lists, rankings, options and varieties, good enough would have to do…
Between human nature and spoiled baby boomers, best available appears to be taking over
I see this in my own shopping habits. Instead of clearly defining all my requirements and then finding a product that is good enough I usually specify the “must have” requirements and then utilize reviews, product comparisons, and product rankings, to select the best available that I can afford. It’s a basic different in how I approach product selection. Many times this results in a product that actually has more bells and whistles than I may actually need. It certainly presents many problems for marketers as well.
Customers who seek out good enough can be satisfied, which is good, but rarely upgrade, which, for the marketer, is not so good. Marketers who try to be best available have an ongoing competition problem, though, because best available is a hard position to sustain.
Which now, in our era of the $12,000 cell phone, leads us to a new position: “best available (within reason).” What never ceases to amaze me is how extravagant consumers are willing to be when they define “within reason.” Maybe a $300 nylon messenger bag is within reason. Maybe a $400 million CEO paycheck is within reason. We keep redefining reasonable all the way to the bank.
This brings up some interesting thoughts. From the point of view of getting the most bang for my buck, it makes sense to choose the Best Available, at least as long as I control my “within reason” judgement. But I’m not sure what this extra bang is buying me if I’m utilizing the Best Available and their features at the Good Enough level. In this case would Good Enough make more sense?