When Newer Isn’t Better

My wife was flipping through the channels this morning and called me over to see Kim Kardashian’s old, broken Blackberry.

Kim’s Blackberry features both a physical keyboard and a cracked screen.

I got a nice chuckle out of it, since it reminded me of how tricky it is to get people to change their behavior and switch to (your) new product.

The forces at play when people switch products

You can break down the switching behavior into an equation of sorts; the “force” towards the new product needs to be greater than what’s keeping the person where they are now. Sometimes, this “escape velocity” is higher than you’d think.

If Kim really wanted a new smartphone — or even if she kinda wanted one — she could have one brought to her within the hour. And since she’s not exactly known for pinching pennies, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting someone that matches her persona to buy the latest and greatest of everything.

It’s Just a Tool

The truth is Kim’s phone is just a tool that does certain jobs for her, not unlike a particular saw a carpenter might use to make certain cuts. And though new saws frequently enter the market, the question for the customer is whether the new saw is better at those cuts in some specific way.

In Kim’s judgment, no smartphone has outperformed the Blackberry Bold when it comes to text messaging efficiency. Since the most recent Bold was released five years ago, she’s stockpiling old ones she finds on eBay.

Is that the type of behavior you’d expect from a millionaire reality TV megastar?

Beyond Shiny and New

If you’re selling something, it has to be better — not just newer — in some way that’s actually meaningful to your customers. Don’t expect “big spenders” to jump to your offering with a little nudge just because they do so elsewhere.