Thursday, 28 February 2013
How do marketers build loyalty for mediocre products? What explains the enduring popularity of the Eurovision Song Contest, or why some underperforming football teams attract unwavering levels of support?
The New Yorker columnist John Cassidy attempts an answer in his article, Was it Rational to Watch the Oscars? Given a backdrop of unfamiliarity with this year's biggest releases and a low tolerance to celebrity backslapping, it would seem rational to avoid the televised ceremony and spend the time doing something more productive. In this instance, the opportunity cost of watching the entire show, from start to finish, is high.
But, writes Cassidy, that would be ignoring the inherent value of common knowledge... and overstating the role our rational minds play in making the decision.
"...knowledge isn’t confined to an awareness of which films win or lose. If that was what people really cared about, they could simply look at the list of winners online, or in the morning newspaper...The common knowledge includes all the other goofy stuff... the wardrobe disasters; the unfunny jokes; the weird dance routines; the embarrassing acceptance speeches."
On their own, these elements aren't enough to inspire interest, let alone loyalty, but combined with the immediacy and peer leverage of social networks, the picture changes dramatically. The awareness that others may be watching, combined with the social pressure created by the possible requirement to display this knowledge at a later date, is enough to elevate low-level apathy into a much more sophisticated need.