New Order, cassettes & sky high consumer expectations

In this age of digital disruption, we talk a lot about fleeting customer loyalty and the war for consumer attention. We're all bombarded by thousands of messages a day, and in this noisy world its the experience brands deliver (be that service, support or creative marketing campaigns) that will win out. Which means consumer expectations are high. I mean really high.  Things like next (or same) day delivery, mobile app continuity, personalisation & online self service are all no longer nice to haves. They're now table stakes.

Take music streaming & Spotify as an example. 

The image above is the cover to "Brotherhood", the 1986 album by New Order (I provide a link as the other day someone told me they had to google "Human League".). Originally I bought this album on cassette (if you want to sound really out of touch, say "cassette" several times over). That was £4.99 (£13.67 in 2016 money) for nine tracks. I then bought the album on vinyl. Same nine tracks for £9.99 (or £25.37 today). And finally I got the CD version. The same nine tracks (but with an added bonus track!) for £14.99 (£36.28 today). So that's £75.32 spent on just nine tracks.

In addition, my ability to amass a comprehensive music collection was somewhat limited. I was likely able to buy 4 or 5 cassettes/vinyl/CDs a month at the very most. That's 60 albums or 540 tracks a year.

Now, along comes spotify and totally disrupts the entire music distribution market. Today, spotify gives you access to 30 MILLION tracks, on any device, instantaneously. That is world-changing, market disrupting and totally mind-blowing to someone who had to wait a year to get access to just 540 tracks, nine at a time.

Yet, that isn't enough. Oh no. In fact, I bet you're one of the people that refuses to pay £9.99 a month for Spotify Premium. You want 30 MILLION tracks, on any device, instantly available, anywhere. For free! You're crazy ;)

You see, making the world's music available to anyone, anywhere is now table stakes. For my kids (and some of you) its a "meh, so what?" With such high expectations even brands like spotify have to work harder. They have to up their game on AI, social sharing, intelligent recommendations, cross-device synchronisation and so much more. It's the wider experience that matters, not the core product itself.

And most brands are in this situation. Today, what separates great businesses from the good ones is the ability to provide customers with a meaningful experience — not just a great product - that ultimately beats those high expectations. 

So next time you moan about not being able to skip tracks or having to listen to Ads, just repeat after me "cassette, cassette, cassette".

...In the meantime, check out Brotherhood: