Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The mystery called consumer

Of all the great mysteries of the universe, none is more confounding than that of consumer behaviour. You would have thought that it shouldn't be an unfathomable mystery - after all you and I are consumers too.  But no. It is inarguably established that you can even hope to nail down the Higgs boson, but cannot begin to understand this mysterious creature called the consumer.

Take the example of the Missoni collection and the outage at Target yesterday. Missoni is an outrageously priced design house - designing everything from clothes to patio sets each costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. I cannot imagine why anybody should pay thousands of dollars for something that is essentially similar and available for $49.99, but we shall pass over that lightly. Target is a discount store in the US.

At first glance, its not sure what the two have in common - you would have expected that one would wrinkle its nose at the other and the other should be showing its finger at the worthy. But hey presto, the two decided that they would collaborate and launch a limited edition Missoni for Target range. This was on the theme of "zig zag" - apparently zig zag lines on your dress is high fashion. Instead of of hundreds of dollars, you could could get it for $39.99.

Target has been swamped. Its web site crashed. The demand for items was higher than on the day after Thanksgiving or Black Friday; days when Americans go bonkers shopping. Everybody , it seems, wants to buy. Social media is inflamed. That doyen of intelligent media, Twitter, is ablaze. Many criticised Target for not anticipating demand. Many others moaned and groaned. Some boasted that they could get in during the few minutes that the site was up . Some others tweeted that they would get Missoni supported unlocked iPhones. As this post was written, the Target site is still down.

I would have bet before yesterday that

  •  Nobody in the US had heard of Missoni
  • It didn't matter one bit whether the lines on your skirt were straight or zig zag , or for that matter, non existent
I would have, of course, lost the bet. I was dead wrong.

Ah the mysteries of that incredibly species called consumer !

PS- Regular readers of this blog might have noticed that this blogger is rather advancing from the status of  "Sartorius Ignoramus" :)