Most customers choose between "good enough" and "best available"
My guess is that before the consumer culture took hold, good enough was the order of the day. Without a lot of lists, rankings, options and varieties, good enough would have to do.
Good enough was the core of a lot of markets… from accounting firms to flour and sugar.
Between human nature and spoiled baby boomers, best available appears to be taking over.
Zales jewelry stores misunderstood this. They saw the growth of Tiffany’s as an indication that consumers wanted to spend a lot for jewelry, so they relentlessly upgraded pricing and selection. They failed in their attempt to grow market share and profits, fired the CEO and retrenched. Why? Because expensive Zales jewelry is neither good enough nor the best available. It was in a horrible middle ground.
Customers who seek out good enough can be satisfied, which is good, but rarely upgrade, which, for the marketer, is not so good. Marketers who try to be best available have an ongoing competition problem, though, because best available is a hard position to sustain.
Which now, in our era of the $12,000 cell phone, leads us to a new position: "best available (within reason)." What never ceases to amaze me is how extravagant consumers are willing to be when they define "within reason." Maybe a $300 nylon messenger bag is within reason. Maybe a $400 million CEO paycheck is within reason. We keep redefining reasonable all the way to the bank.