Proximity matters a great deal.
Detroit car executives in the 1970s and 1980s consistently failed to respond to the threat from Japanese imports. They weren't merely arrogant—they were blinded by proximity. Everyone in their neighborhood, everyone on their commute, everyone in their parking lot was driving an American car. How could there be a problem?
We define the universe around us as normal. It's one of the only ways to stay sane—we assume that the noise in our head is in the head of other people, that what we yearn for or buy is what others do as well. And we look to the world around us for confirmation.
This truth can take us to two insights:
- if you want to understand what part of the world is really like, you should make special efforts to surround yourself with that world. If you market to bodegas, consider taking an apartment upstairs from a bodega.
- there's a huge bonus to being famous to the family. If you can be locally dominant, the locals will instinctively decide that you are globally dominant. Have 100 customers in one neighborhood (virtual or real) is worth much much more than having one customer in each of 100 neighborhoods.