Over the weekend, Seth went on a rant about “the inanity of the American consumer.” In particular, he was incensed about the availability of a machine that can toast a muffin, heat a slice of ham, and cook an egg all at the same time. Godin:
“What kind of person, exactly, needs this…not only don’t people need it, it’s unclear that they even want it.
It seems as though we’ve marketed ourselves into a corner, where the only way to grow is to find increasingly narrow niches of decreasing utility.”
Seth, you fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is “Never get involved in a land war in Asia“, but only slightly less well known is this: “don’t assume the customer is just like me, the marketer.”
While this doesn’t precisely fall into the “long tail” case for the reasons mentioned here (primarily the amateur creation aspects), is this not still a case where there’s an opportunity to match up a customer with a product that has utility for that customer? It doesn’t matter if you or I think there’s “utility” for something like this. If this meets a need for someone, and that someone can find it via online search, and it can be created and delivered efficiently, why not?
Bonus rant: As noted above, the reference post talks about consumers. I won’t be able to say it better than Jerry Michalski, via Doc Searls, so I won’t try. Doc:
“First, we’re readers, viewers, listeners and (most of all) customers, not just ‘consumers.’ As Jerry Michalski put it long ago, a consumer is nothing more than a gullet whose only purpose in life is to gulp products and crap cash. Economically speaking, “consumer,” as the word is commonly used in the advertising business, is a linguistic fossil from the old industrial world where the only way big companies could reach potential customers was through media conduits that sluiced in one direction only, from the privileged few to the captive many. Except as the literal reciprocal of “producer,” “consumer” no longer holds much useful meaning, except where the supply side of advertising talks amongst itself. Worse, using it is risky and misleading. It disses a whole side of the marketplace that grows in power every time one customer links to another one.”