For those who saw my Beyond Enforcement presentation, you probably remember rubber duckie. I carried rubber duckie around on my name badge through most of the NEHA conference. I was making a point with rubber duckie. Since I was going to be recorded, I wanted to avoid making the point with a certain laughing furry red monster.
On my way to my morning coffee fix this morning I was greeted by a line outside the Apple store located across the street. Not only a line of camped out twentysomethings, but news people filming the whole thing.
It’s iPhone day. Rubber duckie the sequel.
Apple has done what those toy companies have done. Granted, since the first iPod, Apple can do no wrong. They design incredible products. My iPod Nano goes with me everywhere. So it should be no surprise that people are excited about the product. Some of those people were there since midnight. Why should people be so excited about the product to camp out for this thing?
The answer is scarcity. In the rubber duckie analogy, there is a phenomenon noted by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence. Toy manufacturers intentionally under-produce certain toys in order to drive up their perceived value. If I only distribute 5 rubber duckies to each store then only 5 people per store will get a rubber duckie. The first five people in the store get the goods, everyone else misses out. But the store often does not tell how many they have in stock, so people get there very early hoping to be one of the few who gets the goods. Such events become news worthy in their own right, and with the panic mentality of most news organizations people believe there really is only a few rubber duckies around. Demand skyrockets in response.
Watching it in action this morning was funny. There is no scarcity of iPhones. Apple could not make money if they only made a thousand distributed nationwide. They need to make hundreds of thousands to turn a profit. What really is driving the scarcity is all in the heads of the people on that line. It’s the status of being the first to have an iPhone.
And here’s the point – Granting status costs little to nothing. I’ve seen it in action. I’ve even exploited it.
The real meaning of inspection scores is one thing. But that numerical value when compared to other numerical values is another. Everyone wants to be better than their competition or rival. As someone who works within companies, I notice that lovely question which is always on the Chef’s lips: “what did the other store get?” It is nice to be better.
In the next part, I’ll describe some simple, inexpensive (or even free) ideas to do exactly that.