Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Levy Flight - Interesting addition to the rocket science of soup

Check out this diagram from Seth Godin:
It represents the motion of an animal through space as it forages.  Note how the animal stays in one location for quite a while, eating whatever is there.  As soon as the local supply is exhausted it then sets out in a random direction for quite some distance, stops and then begins foraging again.  Social researchers have demonstrated that this is what consumers do:  they find a brand or restaurant or website that they like, they forage closely at it, returning again and again.  This is why increasing product complexity works for a while - the new flavors or features keep the customer coming back to the same feeding ground.

No matter how interesting and complex you make things, eventually the customer gets all the value that they want or just gets bored with your offer and they set out to find something new.  And complexity at that point makes it harder for them to stop at a new solution or brand - the complexity makes it harder to take advantage of the features that make the product valuable.

This explains why complexity is a rational short term tactic with potentially disastrous long term implications.

Something to think about next time you're fishing for whales out on the Openwater.

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