No, this does not need to be in

Consumers purchase what they like. No sensible person would put their hard-earned (or Patreon) money into something they don’t deem worth the effort they’ve put into the work they’ve done. Corporations exist to make money and the way they make money is to produce goods and services that interest, are in demand and are wanted by the consumer, and thus the consumer in the end dictates what goods are produced by their use of money.

However, no organisation is ever required to make anything the consumer wants. They don’t need to include elements that would hit the consumer consensus. That is if they don’t want to make any profit on their product.

To use an example, the non-controversy with Ghost in the Shell‘s lead being Scarlett Johansson irked some, while most of the rest of the consumers didn’t give a rat’s ass because of two reasons; they had no prior experience with the franchise, and they’re not obsessed by who acts. Johansson has star power behind her that attracts the general consumer and has shown to be a capable action movie star from time to time. So for a company aiming for profit, this is a natural selection over less known actresses. After all, the licensed company has all the power to decide over the product, and the decisions made will be reflected in the box office. At no time they are required to pander to an audience, for better or worse.

To take this a bit further and dwelve in the subject, at no point there is any reason to create a cast of characters of diverse background in a given movie or a work. This can be twisted in multiple ways, but be sure just to take this as it’s said; the provider can do whatever they like with their product. The only way to really change what is provided is either by making it a more viable option for profit, or produce a product that fulfils that niche.

Just as companies like Twitter and Facebook can run their business in whatever way they like, just as much the consumer of these platforms can decide that their time and money is better spent elsewhere. The discussion what is moral or what are the responsibilities of huge platforms that have become part of everyday life to some extent is a discussion for another time. However, perhaps it should be noted that companies do tend to be on the nerve of whatever is on the boiling surface of social discourse and will take advantage of this for either direction. Pepsi’s recent commercial with a protester giving a can of Pepsi to a police officer as a supposed gesture of friendship, while on the surface wanting to comment on the event (which can be read oh so many ways) is ultimately advertising and showing signs towards certain crowd. It’s PR management after all.

It goes without saying, if someone thinks there is a market, for example,  for a certain kind of movie with certain kind lead actor, surely they’ll tackle this market and rake in the profits themselves. That’s capitalism, after all. Finding a niche to blossom in is the best way to climb to the general consensus. This is not Make it yourself argument. A niche that has demand is usually filled by those who know it exist and have a little know-how to tackle the market. The know-how can even be purchased nowadays thanks to all the companies and individuals offering market research and help in putting up a company.

All this really ends up with the good ol’ idea of wallet voting. You buy what you like, you don’t buy what you don’t like. I’m told time and time again that wallet voting doesn’t work, and every time I have to respond in laughter; it does work, more people just vote against your interests. This is consumer democracy that is decided through free use of money. However, there is a problem within this. There is always a demographic that wants to control a product or field of products without consuming the product itself. This twists the perception of the provider to an extent and can even prevent production and release of a product that would have otherwise faced no problems. The past example of Grand Theft Auto V being pulled from stores is an example of this, and maybe the whole issue with Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 should get a shoutout.

A product that sees most sales doesn’t mean anything else but that the consumers deem it valuable enough of their money. Whatever other reasons may be behind the decision to invest money into a product is up to an individual and a separate study for these reasons should be conducted as they are not something that come up through raw sales statistics. Often you can’t even deduce what sort of consumer group has put their money in a given product, outside what the product itself promises.

A traditional corporation would aim to invest into a development of a product and its sales to rake in money to fill the pockets if their investors and pay the workers, as well as to put money back into further development of future products. This of course requires the consumer to value the product first of all. However, in recent years there has been providers, especially game developers, who seem to consider their right to be paid and gain success by the virtue of them providing something, be it in demand, wanted, needed or not. Naturally, if your product does not meet with the demands of the consumer, you shouldn’t expect high profits.

Of course, you could claim to be a stereotypical art-type provider and do your piece for the sake of love of it, to express yourself to the fullest and never see a dime.

This is not to say a provider can’t make something described above and make money. Finding the right balance between the thing you want to do and providing the consumers is tricky business, but not impossible. It just takes two things; hard work and research. Guts is optional but recommended.

As you might have surmised, this topic was originally supposed to be part of Another take on customers series of posts, but we’re good 40 posts away from our next hundredth post. Thus, decided to timely put this down now rather than forget the content I had scribbled down into a memo.

Brand loyalty?

As much as brand loyalty is often misplaced, sometimes it has its place. While I try to avoid too many personal tales, in which I fail at far too often, I do have a feeling that in this case a small personal story is in place.

After spending a morning chopping wood and petting dogs, I noticed that a pair of shoes I wear everywhere, any time, any weather, had finally given in a basically just broke down. Thus, a need to buy new shoes.

However, just like everyone who have slightly out of ordinary shoes, finding the perfect pair can take some time, and some brands simply do not my feet. I enjoy slightly wider last than what the standard is with a nice, slightly thicker soles and longer life. The last one I had lasted about six years, God bless ’em.

The thing is, not many companies design and produce shoes that fit these tootsies. It took me three purchases to realize that I’ve been buying Merrel shoes just because they fulfil what I’m looking for, and that’s just me.

Brand loyalty with clothes is very much a different thing than brand loyalty with e.g. game console brands. Human body is dynamic and changes so much from person to person and year to year, and some people just have the hardest time to find the right clothes that fit their frame. Women have hard time finding decent bras if their bust size on the larger side, and more often than not you can forget finding them in nice colour or with laces.

Is it a necessary brand loyalty? No, it’s just easy. Only at the extremes you may not find but one or two options to go with, but consumer rarely wants to change from a provider that they’ve already either invested in emotionally or feel they have no reason to change the provider. For example, one may want to keep from buying H&M due to their shit practices in production, but despite that one can’t ignore that sometimes they just have pretty good stuff in stock.

Informed consumer can make the best purchase decisions based on their wants and morals. It’s all about what the consumer wants and what sort of attachment they have. Agendas, intentions and so on affect our purchasing habits to a large degree, and those who could be called world savers are more than aware of each and every single thing the clothes companies do wrong. You can bet that each and every piece of clothing and brand they’re under in the stores rip off somebody elsewhere in the world. The only way to assure that doesn’t happen is to employ your local tailor, and even then you’d need to question where the fabrics, threads, buttons and zippers come from. The common consumer doesn’t really a give a damn about that. It’s easier and more accessible to walk into a store and purchase what fits you in there rather than sit down, do research, measure yourself and find whatever may fit you from a seller that’s not killing employees in a factory fire because they didn’t install emergency exits.

Much like with the local pizza industry, most people are not willing to dish out large amounts of money for their clothes, despite the quality does go hand in hand with price in most cases. Companies are required to get the cheapest possible at the best possible quality, and often that requires one end to suffer somehow. Third world manufacturing plants and their employees tend to be the one who get shafted in these cases. There is no perfect solution how to make all three parties equal in this dilemma, and I’m not even going to amuse possible solutions. Consumers want quality for cheap, companies are required to find the most profitable way to do it, and most people around the world are just happy to get some kind of place to work, whatever it is. There is always someone else willing to take your spot in the workforce.

But, one person among million of consumers does not affect any. The power is in the numbers. If your decisions what you purchase and from who have basically no effect on anything, why do it? Because it your feeling on the matter. My refusal on using Valve’s services or purchasing anything from Gamestop weight absolutely nil in the larger scheme, but it has impact on the feeling and idea that I can stand next to whatever I believe in to be right. That applies to everyone, and everybody has their own subjective view on any issue. We weight these purchases often too lightly, and with brand loyalty in there, we tend to ignore what could affect our decisions in favour for our own comfort, and there’s really nothing wrong in that.

So, me purchasing a new pair of shoes from the same manufacturer for the third time without knowing one thing about the company itself shows my willingness to basically ignore to know one thing about them. It never occurred to me, it didn’t matter. The information is out there, in my fingertips through the keyboard. Better fix that, so I can make a more educated purchase next time when it comes to clothing. After all, even a guy who mostly posts about games and giant robots needs to wear clothes when going out there.

Nintendo not in Top 100, but do you care?

Not too long ago, Nintendo was dropped from the Top 100 brands list by Interbrand. According to CEO Yuki Wada the reason for this drop is that Nintendo has not been keeping with changes in people’s lives, pointing to its failure to jump on the smartphone bandwagon in a timely manner. That’s a direct quote too.

Yuki Wada’s statement shows how the industry doesn’t like when Nintendo does what is good for the market. The NES was booed, yet it essentially saved console gaming. The GameBoy was called a relic while its competitors died one by one soon after they were released. The Super Nintendo was deemed too childish compared to the Mega Drive. The N64 on the other hand was hailed to have peculiarity, and the GameCube was hailed as a great console. Both of these were not successful on the larger scale. The DS followed the NES’ route of expanding the market, and the industry hated Nintendo for it. The 3DS and the WiiU follow the N64 and GameCube philosophy and have garnered better reception from the industry.

But the industry is not the consumer. From Nintendo’s history it seems that what industry hates, the consumers love. The more money Nintendo banks, the more the industry hates Nintendo’s guts. The latest Pikmin being a good example of this. Fans and industry loved it, and it sold mediocre numbers, especially for a first party WiiU title.

Nintendo would do disservice to itself by expanding to smartphone market by itself like many other companies have. After all, why would you like to make your own products available on other platforms? With DeNA Nintendo is doing just that, but on their own terms. Smartphones and consoles compete in different region anyway, especially with modern handhelds that are less about gaming on the go than what they should be. The kind of games smartphones and consoles, handheld or home, offer is different as well.

I do see that Nintendo’s financial performance and brand contributions could be the main thing dropping Nintendo from the list, but not jumping on the smartphone bandwagon. If that were the case, Nintendo should’ve been dropped each generation they did something backwards in industry’s eye, be it no using compact disc media or adding a media player functionality.

Nintendo has never been on the forefront of new technology. Whenever they followed Gunpei Yokoi’s philosophy of using existing and cheaper technology to its fullest extent, Nintendo has gained more profits. One could also argue that games have been better, leaving unneeded gimmicks be while pushing the gameplay to its limits.

What does the consumer care if Nintendo is in Top 100 or not? All he cares about is that the companies keep catering products they want to throw money at. Like 300 page books filled with materials or high speed action games, pizza that tastes delicious or vacuum cleaners that don’t break under stressful cleaning.

Now the industry might care, but when it comes to Nintendo, the industry has not been very favourable towards them overall.