The same … again … and again

I don’t exclude myself from the vast majority of university instructors whose appearance is anything but au courant. For instance, I once returned from a visiting year at another school to find that my hair-cutters near campus had seemingly changed their approach to cater to the avant-garde. I asked for the manager (a woman I’d known from previous years) to see if she could calm my concerns that the place was no longer right for me. Those apprehensions grew when, while waiting, I began flipping through magazines featuring models exhibiting preposterous clothing and haircuts. What’s more, the salon’s female patrons seemed to be getting their hair colored in hues unknown to nature, whereas the men were electing “bed-head” looks that in my college days would only have been called “morning-after-a-drunk” looks. When the manager arrived, I voiced my worries, which I illustrated by opening a magazine and emphatically stating, “I don’t want to look like anyone, anyone, in this scene.” (I was pointing to a Prada ad at the time.) She was able to ease my fears in a way that supports my present point about the characteristic fashion preferences of university professors: “It’s okay. I’ll assign you to my stylist who cuts all the faculty members’ hair. Don’t worry, he’s from Indiana.”
“Pre-suasion” by Robert Cialdini

There is this old story about an online store owner and a programmer. The online store owner points to a feature of the competition. It allows customers to save products they like and quickly buy them over and over again. The programmer says: “That’s not difficult, I can program this in an hour.”

The moral of the story is not that important features can be quickly copied, but to notice these features, the demand for them, in the first place.

I think the same can be said for lots and lots of products. It’s not only the secretary quickly buying the same whiteboard makers again and again, because that’s what the people in the company are used to. It applies to other contexts as well.

Personally, it notice it with clothes. I am one of these people who really do not want to think about clothes in the morning. I want to open my cupboard, grab the first things, put them on, and that’s it. During that time I am either planning the day or listening to podcasts (usually about political or social issues, with the occasional online lecture). There is no cognitive processing power left to decide, no perceptual attention left to combine colors or styles. It’s mostly directed inward to the thoughts or the audio.

But, apparently, there is the widespread trend to change styles and products each year. Whether it’s shoes or caps or anything in between. The attitude of the companies seems to be: “Try it out and you (and others!) will notice the difference.” to which I (and others) say: “No, fuck you, I don’t want to notice any difference. I just want what I am used to. This is not an area of my life where I welcome change.” (And yup, change on such a superficial thing like clothes is pretty much … meh.)

I really think there is a market here. I notice it with the kind of trousers I buy. For over a decade I get the same kind, the same model, the same cut — now online. I try the same with my shirts and other clothes. And seriously, as long as they are clean (and I hope they are) who cares.

I don’t, neither should others.

Now if only companies would discover the untapped potential of customers who just want the same thing — at least in that area of their lives. They could save costs and have a constant revenue stream.