So what is common between Microsoft & American Automobile manufacturers? Both of them command a significant percentage of market share but seem to be loosing ground in the minds of consumer (just my opinion...numbers could probably tell a whole different story).
The common factor is mediocrity. The overall experience of ownership or usage of these consumer products is mediocre or good enough. It's not the best, not the worst, just good enough. Office works pretty well for some, not so well for others, but it works somewhat. The same logic applies to the Taurus's of the world.
These products may not be the tops in efficiency or style or experience or usability, but they are all good enough. Well apparently, good enough is not good enough & the middle segment is shrinking. Why??
1. Technology - It turns out that a few years ago, you had to be a Linux guy to use it, but today with an "easy to install & use experience", Ubuntu is a compelling alternative to Windows (same for Open Office).
These type of products are creating a migration from the middle segment to the bottom layers (especially true for developing countries / price sensitive segments). On the other hand, Toyota Prius is creating a migration to the upper segment with superior technology (Yep, 20K + for a compact car)
2. Design - Is expanding the top & the bottom segments by making the products more appealing, usable & hip. No longer is design expensive (IKEA, Target, Toyota Scion) & thus a mediocre product or service experience is just not selling very well. No points for guessing Apple, but others include Volkswagen & Nissan.
3. Innovation - is another reason why the middle segment is shrinking. Products & services better suited for our needs command a premium way over the good enough category (Yep...$90 for a Braun Toothbrush..who would have guessed?). This limits the economic incentive to be in the mediocre products category (unless of course, you have very high exit barriers).
4. Too much crap - Straight out of the Dan Pinkerton world, Asia, Automation & Abundance have made some of us rethink about what do we need (& how much of it). Although, this mindset of not buying too much crap is expanding organically, but it is a segment which seems highly averse to buying mediocre products.
5. Changing Lifestyle - As the migration to cities gathers steam, we will have smaller spaces to ourselves, & thus would want less stuff (in which case, mediocre products are probably out). Same applies for multi tasking...Blackberry is a great example of this.
I am sure this list can go on & on with internet, wisdom of the crowds, better access to reviews & ownership experience etc., but the point is....
Good enough is not good enough.
In the next post, my thoughts on what can we do to get out of the "Good Enough" category.