Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Planned obsolescence

Screams aren't a good way to wake up.

Or at least, not one I'd choose.  20 years ago I woke instantly, but nowadays I sort of meander into full attention. Screams from the other end of the house aren't, frankly, all that respectful of my lifestyle. :)

On arrival in the kitchen, I discovered that our coffee machine was on fire. Not smoking, but literally in flames. The plastic was melting, that melted plastic was running across the counter also in flames.

"Things aren't built the way they used to be" has become so commonplace it is more than a little trite. So many products fail pretty much exactly when the warranty runs out that we sometimes talk of planned obsolescence.

I see planned obsolescence as a failure of marketing, or more, as a flawed view of what customer relationship is all about.

Think about it this way. The goal of building a long term relationship is to encourage customers to do business with you again. In essence, to build a sort of annuity of goodwill that continues to generate revenue over time. But if we forget about the word goodwill, and focus on the repeat business, then it starts to make an odd sort of sense to make the product fail and so to force another purchase.

This attitude fails in that early or spectacular product failure doesn't maintain what goodwill the positive experiences with the product may have created.

Without a doubt, I'm not going to buy another of the same coffee machine. And, in fact, my new machine is a completely different brand.

PS. Out of respect the the aforementioend screamer, I'll admit that it was more of a yell than a scream, but I think the text came out

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