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Is it in corporations' best interest to have dumb customers?

PerpetualPerpetual Registered User
edited April 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
You know those conspiracy theories that go along the lines of "corporations don't want public education to improve because educated customers are less likely to buy the shit they produce" or whatever.

Is this really true?

Do educated customers really lead to less revenue for most corporations out there?

Or does it lead to customers who are more likely to participate, share, improve, and find creative ways to use your product?

I don't believe one way or the other - I just want to start an open discussion.

Perpetual on
«134

Posts

  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    The snuggie is definitive proof that this is true.

    They sold a backwards robe and idiot america bought it up.

    Sentry on
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    wrote:
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    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Two words: Extended Warranty

    nexuscrawler on
  • PerpetualPerpetual Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Two words: Extended Warranty

    Can you please elaborate?

    Perpetual on
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Perpetual wrote: »
    Two words: Extended Warranty

    Can you please elaborate?

    They are for dumb people

    nexuscrawler on
  • HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Yes.

    Also, I've been wanting to get a snuggie. Those things look cool.

    HamHamJ on
    While racing light mechs, your Urbanmech comes in second place, but only because it ran out of ammo.
  • FirstComradeStalinFirstComradeStalin Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    At the same time there's a massive industry in catering specifically to smart, or "cultured" people (or at least people who think they are), like theater and art and fine dining. Also, smart people tend to make more money, which in general means they buy more of your shit.

    I'd say they don't want the customer to be generally stupid, but they might want them to be stupid when it comes to marketing.

    Like, someone could tell you they think a car is sexy and they want to buy it, but they couldn't tell you specifically why, because a lot of what makes an attractive product is done by designers that spend their entire lives learning the minutiae of product design.

    Same for advertising. Someone might see, say, a poster done by Apple for the iPod and it'll make them want to buy it because it makes it look cool. Never mind the precise balancing of white space, choosing of fonts (though Apple in particular seems to just slap Helvetica on everything), placement of colors and contrasts, etc. that goes into making these things visually appealing.

    FirstComradeStalin on
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  • Chop LogicChop Logic Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Perpetual wrote: »
    Two words: Extended Warranty

    Can you please elaborate?

    They are for dumb people

    I'd like to hear an explanation for this?

    Also, I think it is definitely in corporations best interest to have dumb customers. Ultimately most things corporations try and sell us we don't need, and they are more likely to be able to convince a dumb person, and keep a dumb person buying their stuff.

    Chop Logic on
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Retails stores love to sell you extra warranties even on stuff covered by manufactorer ones. Then they make it so comically annoying to get a replacement half the time it's not worth the effort.

    nexuscrawler on
  • Dr Mario KartDr Mario Kart Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Sure. Furthermore, they're always fighting regulations such as labeling that would give consumers information to work with.

    A good rule of thumb would be: good for corporations, bad for people.

    Dr Mario Kart on
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    Perpetual wrote: »
    Two words: Extended Warranty

    Can you please elaborate?

    They are for dumb people

    I'd like to hear an explanation for this?

    High street stores routinely hawk hugely expensive extended warranties for items that don't have a value or failure rate that comes close to justifying them.

    In the UK there's been a massive crackdown on them, and they've got a lot cheaper, but they still tend to be way, way, more expensive than third party warranties obtained independently of the actual store.

    japan on
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I'd say they don't want the customer to be generally stupid, but they might want them to be stupid when it comes to marketing.

    This. It couldn't matter less to businesses what your IQ is or how many digits you can memorize or what you got on the SAT, but they definitely benefit if you don't apply critical thinking in your daily life (IE purchasing decisions).

    nescientist on
    Carl Sagan wrote:
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  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    For those of us who have worked retail it's easy to say that customers are already stupid, so mission accomplished. I know, I know, it's not that clear cut, but retail will certainly change your outlook on how you view people.

    DoctorArch on
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  • HenroidHenroid Radio Demon Internet HellRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I worked retail many years ago and I was bad at it (the sales floor, that is). I couldn't sell the extended warranties for shit. And why? Because it felt dishonest. Several managers agreed but still tried to get me to break that nasty habit of not wanting to screw people out of money.

    Henroid on
    Centrism is just the cowardly way to be a bigot w/o being explicit about it.
    American politics isn't 4D chess, it's just if you give a shit about other people or not.
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Corporations don't want stupid customers, per se; they just want customers lacking in critical thinking skills.

    Thanatos on
  • FerrusFerrus Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Education isn't "Education". You can be a total dumbass but still be somewhat distrustful of marketing schemes. Most of these schemes aren't obvious or avoidable anyway. You can't for example escape the constant background music in a supermarket, which is specifically chosen to influence your behavior. No amount of education will save you from simple tricks played on your psyche either. The only thing that does would be a very high awareness of how marketing works.

    It has been said in this thread that there also is a very specific way of selling things that make you look "smart" and "educated" *cough* Apple *cough* and without a doubt smart and educated people, who should know better, still fall for that kind of crap.

    My guess would be that it is simply much easier to sell things to an uneducated crowd than to an educated and sceptical one.

    Ferrus on
    I would like to pause for a moment, to talk about my penis.
    My penis is like a toddler. A toddler—who is a perfectly normal size for his age—on a long road trip to what he thinks is Disney World. My penis is excited because he hasn’t been to Disney World in a long, long time, but remembers a time when he used to go every day. So now the penis toddler is constantly fidgeting, whining “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now? Now? How about... now?”
    And Disney World is nowhere in sight.
  • HenroidHenroid Radio Demon Internet HellRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Corporations don't want stupid customers, per se; they just want customers lacking in critical thinking skills.

    My mother had me diagnose her computer to see why it's so slow; she's got like 1998 / 1999 PC parts running Windows XP (a friend of her's built the computer and gave it to her). I told her she needs to buy a new computer, even one on the cheap, for it to not be a piece of crap and that's all there is to it. And the internet connection needs to be something not dialup for that aspect to be faster.

    Rush Limbaugh pitches this software to "make your computer faster" which claims to remove spyware, etc. She didn't understand what the hell it was meant to do, she just heard this thing that COULD be wrong with computers and figured that's what was going on. And despite her son's words and diagnosis about what the fuck was wrong, she trusted Rush Limbaugh.

    The software made her computer even more of a piece of shit, and she's still shocked about how her internet is slow.

    Is that what you mean? :evil:

    Henroid on
    Centrism is just the cowardly way to be a bigot w/o being explicit about it.
    American politics isn't 4D chess, it's just if you give a shit about other people or not.
  • kdrudykdrudy Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Maybe not necessarily dumb, but uninformed definitely, even intelligent people can be uninformed. They want you to trust their word and not go out and research things on your own.

    kdrudy on
    tvsfrank.jpg
  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Corporations don't want stupid customers, per se; they just want customers lacking in critical thinking skills.

    Not even Wal-Mart would have a competitve advantage if consumers lacked critical-thinking skills. Wal-Mart has the lowest prices, it takes some analysis to see that this is true.

    This whole thread makes me mad.

    Loklar on
  • PerpetualPerpetual Registered User
    edited March 2010
    kdrudy wrote: »
    Maybe not necessarily dumb, but uninformed definitely, even intelligent people can be uninformed. They want you to trust their word and not go out and research things on your own.

    One could argue that that's a doomed business model though, since the Internet makes it so ridiculously easy to find amazing amounts of information and product reviews.

    So if your company is still relying on keeping people uninformed in order to keep selling their products, then they are fucked.

    Perpetual on
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Loklar wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Corporations don't want stupid customers, per se; they just want customers lacking in critical thinking skills.

    Not even Wal-Mart would have a competitve advantage if consumers lacked critical-thinking skills. Wal-Mart has the lowest prices, it takes some analysis to see that this is true.

    This whole thread makes me mad.

    Why does it make you mad?

    DoctorArch on
    Switch Friend Code: SW-6732-9515-9697
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Loklar wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Corporations don't want stupid customers, per se; they just want customers lacking in critical thinking skills.

    Not even Wal-Mart would have a competitve advantage if consumers lacked critical-thinking skills. Wal-Mart has the lowest prices, it takes some analysis to see that this is true.

    This whole thread makes me mad.
    The healthcare bill may take care of that.

    And from my perspective, I'd rather buy a quality product from Costco that's going to cost slightly more, but last way longer or work way more effectively, than the ultra-cheap crap that Wal-Mart sells.

    Thanatos on
  • FerrusFerrus Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Loklar wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Corporations don't want stupid customers, per se; they just want customers lacking in critical thinking skills.

    Not even Wal-Mart would have a competitve advantage if consumers lacked critical-thinking skills. Wal-Mart has the lowest prices, it takes some analysis to see that this is true.

    This whole thread makes me mad.

    They cater to people who only want to buy stuff as cheap as possible without thinking about other factors though. Admittedly, I don't know if Wal-Mart sells decent quality products but I doubt it. A person who considers other factors (Is it Fair Trade? Does it last a long while?) too while looking for stuff to buy would probably stay away from them.

    Ferrus on
    I would like to pause for a moment, to talk about my penis.
    My penis is like a toddler. A toddler—who is a perfectly normal size for his age—on a long road trip to what he thinks is Disney World. My penis is excited because he hasn’t been to Disney World in a long, long time, but remembers a time when he used to go every day. So now the penis toddler is constantly fidgeting, whining “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now? Now? How about... now?”
    And Disney World is nowhere in sight.
  • KetherialKetherial Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    i actually find managing expectations to be the best business model.

    uninformed customers make it more difficult to operate and manage a business, not less. i wish all of my customers were perfectly informed.

    Ketherial on
  • juice for jesusjuice for jesus Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    One of the assumptions of the standard supply and demand model of markets is that all participants in the market have full access to information. This is one of the major ways that theory breaks down in the real world. A disparity in information can definitely benefit one side or the other.

    So, I'd say that corps don't necessarily care if a consumer is smart or dumb, but they might benefit by keeping consumers uninformed of certain facts.

    juice for jesus on
    Lanlaorn wrote: »
    That's just insulting, I think DBZ is bad but I'm not going to insinuate that it only appeals to people who are equal parts retards and psychopaths.
  • kdrudykdrudy Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Perpetual wrote: »
    kdrudy wrote: »
    Maybe not necessarily dumb, but uninformed definitely, even intelligent people can be uninformed. They want you to trust their word and not go out and research things on your own.

    One could argue that that's a doomed business model though, since the Internet makes it so ridiculously easy to find amazing amounts of information and product reviews.

    So if your company is still relying on keeping people uninformed in order to keep selling their products, then they are fucked.

    It depends on the product, big products sure, but think about something like Monster Cables, they still sell for far more then they are worth because most people don't research AV cables, they research the TV they bought.

    kdrudy on
    tvsfrank.jpg
  • FerrusFerrus Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    kdrudy wrote: »
    Perpetual wrote: »
    kdrudy wrote: »
    Maybe not necessarily dumb, but uninformed definitely, even intelligent people can be uninformed. They want you to trust their word and not go out and research things on your own.

    One could argue that that's a doomed business model though, since the Internet makes it so ridiculously easy to find amazing amounts of information and product reviews.

    So if your company is still relying on keeping people uninformed in order to keep selling their products, then they are fucked.

    It depends on the product, big products sure, but think about something like Monster Cables, they still sell for far more then they are worth because most people don't research AV cables, they research the TV they bought.

    Or Gamestops policy on used games...

    Ferrus on
    I would like to pause for a moment, to talk about my penis.
    My penis is like a toddler. A toddler—who is a perfectly normal size for his age—on a long road trip to what he thinks is Disney World. My penis is excited because he hasn’t been to Disney World in a long, long time, but remembers a time when he used to go every day. So now the penis toddler is constantly fidgeting, whining “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now? Now? How about... now?”
    And Disney World is nowhere in sight.
  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Perpetual wrote: »
    Two words: Extended Warranty

    Can you please elaborate?

    They are for dumb people

    Not always. My dad makes a killing off those. The Macs he buys don't seem to last long in his house (he thinks humidity may be an issue) and Apple has lost its shirt repairing and replacing his computers.

    [Tycho?] on
    mvaYcgc.jpg
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    edited March 2010
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    Not always. My dad makes a killing off those. The Macs he buys don't seem to last long in his house (he thinks humidity may be an issue) and Apple has lost its shirt repairing and replacing his computers.

    I gladly paid for two years of extended warranty for my laptop.

    Something in my desktop computer asplodes? No problem, I can buy replacement parts and plop in myself.

    My laptop screen breaks? Yeah, that's a brand new laptop purchase if there's no warranty.

    Echo on
    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Ferrus wrote: »
    Loklar wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Corporations don't want stupid customers, per se; they just want customers lacking in critical thinking skills.

    Not even Wal-Mart would have a competitve advantage if consumers lacked critical-thinking skills. Wal-Mart has the lowest prices, it takes some analysis to see that this is true.

    This whole thread makes me mad.

    They cater to people who only want to buy stuff as cheap as possible without thinking about other factors though. Admittedly, I don't know if Wal-Mart sells decent quality products but I doubt it. A person who considers other factors (Is it Fair Trade? Does it last a long while?) too while looking for stuff to buy would probably stay away from them.

    And some people are struggling and can't afford to consider social implications. Or have decided that they save money at Wal-Mart and volunteer at a charity. Or they just really like money so they are going to be cheap, and would rather get a gym membership than run outside.

    The reason why the thread makes me mad is that it strikes me as dumping on people who work. There's a certain trend in society where other wise good-hearted people accuse, critize or demean hard-working people in corporations. Or people who are just going about their life.

    (Would rant more, at work)

    Loklar on
  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
    edited March 2010
    OP needs to explain why this alleged phenomenon only happens with corporations, and why sole-proprietorships and partnerships couldn't also have an interest in uneducated customers.

    . . . because I think what they really mean is simply "businesses".

    [/pet peeve about lazy use of "corporation"]



    I don't think there's any reason to call it a trend either way.

    I'm sure lots of firms that offer less-than-necessary products or services benefit from customers who don't think too hard about whether they really need what they're buying.

    At the same time there are plenty of firms that benefit from having a customer base intelligent enough to find a use for their product, to identify its utility, and appreciate why their product may be superior to a competitors, etc.

    Andrew_Jay on
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    Perpetual wrote: »
    Two words: Extended Warranty

    Can you please elaborate?

    They are for dumb people

    Not always. My dad makes a killing off those. The Macs he buys don't seem to last long in his house (he thinks humidity may be an issue) and Apple has lost its shirt repairing and replacing his computers.

    I've done the same thing for my iPhone. Four iPhones in one year? You bet your silly goose that I'm going to purchase the $60 extended warranty for another year.

    DoctorArch on
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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    It's probably the case that it's in corporation's best interest if their customers are not fully informed. That way, they can present the case for the customer buying a product in the manner that most favours them.

    Interestingly enough, after the Payment Protection Insurance debacle in the UK it is actually illegal for a business regulated by the Financial Services Authority to sell someone something that does not benefit them in any way. It's interesting to imagine a world where that was the case for all consumer products.

    japan on
  • FerrusFerrus Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    japan wrote: »
    It's probably the case that it's in corporation's best interest if their customers are not fully informed. That way, they can present the case for the customer buying a product in the manner that most favours them.

    Interestingly enough, after the Payment Protection Insurance debacle in the UK it is actually illegal for a business regulated by the Financial Services Authority to sell someone something that does not benefit them in any way. It's interesting to imagine a world where that was the case for all consumer products.

    There would be a hell of a lot less products, that's for sure.

    Ferrus on
    I would like to pause for a moment, to talk about my penis.
    My penis is like a toddler. A toddler—who is a perfectly normal size for his age—on a long road trip to what he thinks is Disney World. My penis is excited because he hasn’t been to Disney World in a long, long time, but remembers a time when he used to go every day. So now the penis toddler is constantly fidgeting, whining “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now? Now? How about... now?”
    And Disney World is nowhere in sight.
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Ketherial wrote: »
    i actually find managing expectations to be the best business model.

    uninformed customers make it more difficult to operate and manage a business, not less. i wish all of my customers were perfectly informed.
    There are entire industries that wouldn't exist if it weren't for uninformed customers. Examples: homeopathy, vitamin sales, herbal supplements, the diet industry, self-help books, oxygen bars, bottled water...

    Thanatos on
  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
    edited March 2010
    japan wrote: »
    Interestingly enough, after the Payment Protection Insurance debacle in the UK it is actually illegal for a business regulated by the Financial Services Authority to sell someone something that does not benefit them in any way. It's interesting to imagine a world where that was the case for all consumer products.
    Well, that's easy for financial services. If I'm shopping for a financial product all that matters is the numbers involved, I don't care what colour it is or how it makes me "feel" - so it is possible to determine whether it benefits me or not (and even useful to have the regulatory body decide for me, because those numbers may, in some cases, be obscure or impenetrable).

    Anything else though is impossible. If I want to buy a leopard-skin print Snuggie because I think it will "benefit me", nobody can tell me otherwise. That would be ridiculously paternalistic. Granted, that doesn't rule out measures to disuade people from buying certain, harmful, products (taxes on fuel, cigarettes, etc.).

    Andrew_Jay on
  • FerrusFerrus Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Ketherial wrote: »
    i actually find managing expectations to be the best business model.

    uninformed customers make it more difficult to operate and manage a business, not less. i wish all of my customers were perfectly informed.
    There are entire industries that wouldn't exist if it weren't for uninformed customers. Examples: homeopathy, vitamin sales, herbal supplements, the diet industry, self-help books, oxygen bars, bottled water...

    To be honest most of these have more to do with superstition that with being informed. Most homeopaths just don't believe in anything else.

    Ferrus on
    I would like to pause for a moment, to talk about my penis.
    My penis is like a toddler. A toddler—who is a perfectly normal size for his age—on a long road trip to what he thinks is Disney World. My penis is excited because he hasn’t been to Disney World in a long, long time, but remembers a time when he used to go every day. So now the penis toddler is constantly fidgeting, whining “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now? Now? How about... now?”
    And Disney World is nowhere in sight.
  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Ferrus wrote: »
    japan wrote: »
    It's probably the case that it's in corporation's best interest if their customers are not fully informed. That way, they can present the case for the customer buying a product in the manner that most favours them.

    Interestingly enough, after the Payment Protection Insurance debacle in the UK it is actually illegal for a business regulated by the Financial Services Authority to sell someone something that does not benefit them in any way. It's interesting to imagine a world where that was the case for all consumer products.

    There would be a hell of a lot less products, that's for sure.

    What products provide no benefit?

    I mean... Homeopathy you could argue. Certain pills you put into your gas-tank to make it "more effecient" maybe. Exercise machines that jiggle flab.

    Hmmm... I like this idea.

    The problem is deciding who gets to decide "homeopathy provides no benefit." Also creating a black-market for ginseng.

    Loklar on
  • Captain CarrotCaptain Carrot Alexandria, VARegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    The FDA gets to decide that.

    Captain Carrot on
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Ferrus wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Ketherial wrote: »
    i actually find managing expectations to be the best business model.

    uninformed customers make it more difficult to operate and manage a business, not less. i wish all of my customers were perfectly informed.
    There are entire industries that wouldn't exist if it weren't for uninformed customers. Examples: homeopathy, vitamin sales, herbal supplements, the diet industry, self-help books, oxygen bars, bottled water...
    To be honest most of these have more to do with superstition that with being informed. Most homeopaths just don't believe in anything else.
    Oh, I forgot the biggest one: religion.

    Thanatos on
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Loklar wrote: »
    Ferrus wrote: »
    japan wrote: »
    It's probably the case that it's in corporation's best interest if their customers are not fully informed. That way, they can present the case for the customer buying a product in the manner that most favours them.

    Interestingly enough, after the Payment Protection Insurance debacle in the UK it is actually illegal for a business regulated by the Financial Services Authority to sell someone something that does not benefit them in any way. It's interesting to imagine a world where that was the case for all consumer products.

    There would be a hell of a lot less products, that's for sure.

    What products provide no benefit?

    I mean... Homeopathy you could argue. Certain pills you put into your gas-tank to make it "more effecient" maybe. Exercise machines that jiggle flab.

    Hmmm... I like this idea.

    The problem is deciding who gets to decide "homeopathy provides no benefit." Also creating a black-market for ginseng.

    It probably wouldn't work for physical products, since you'd always at the very least be exchanging money for a physical thing, and it could be said that a person now having a thing they didn't have before is a benefit.

    The PPI thing was credit companies selling insurance to cover payments that borrowers couldn't afford to make if their circumstances changed (became unemployed, etc.) but the policies were frequently set up in such a way that it was impossible to ever meet the eligibility requirements to claim. So people were literally paying money for no benefit.

    japan on
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