Overpinnings when the underpinnings go away

Years ago, most middle class people had a huge, expensive piece of furniture in their living room. It played music and captured radio broadcasts.

The high-end stereo business was the overpinning built on this underpinning. "If you're already going to the expense and trouble of making music at home, why not spend a bit more time and money and have it sound fantastic?"

Of course, most people have solved their music problem, and they didn't need a piece of furniture to do it. The underpinnings that the industry was built on have disappeared.

The same is true for the typical bookstore. "If you're already spending a little bit of time and money reading books to stay informed, why not spend a bit more time and money and be really smart?"

The typical adult isn't relying on books for this sort of information any more, so the upgradeable base is much smaller.

Or consider the fountain pen (overpinning the ballpoint), the fancy vacation house (overpinning the motel replaced by vrbo and airbnb), or the fancy suit (overpinning the cheap suit). It's even true for laser printers and cigarettes.

These luxury categories don't go away as fast as the thing they depended on, because they were never mass items, so it's possible to survive on much less demand. But in order to thrive, the creators of these products need to shift their story, their posture and the value they deliver to their audience.