Business Week recently published an interesting article titled "Obama's Victory: A Consumer-Citizen Revolt":
This column is dedicated to the top managers of American business whose policies and practices helped ensure Barack Obama's victory. The mandate for change that sounded across this country is not limited to our new President and Congress. That bell also tolls for you. Obama's triumph was ignited in part by your failure to understand and respect your own consumers, customers, employees, and end users. The despair that fueled America's yearning for change and hope grew to maturity in your garden.
Millions of Americans heard President-elect Obama painfully recall his sense of frustration, powerlessness, and outrage when his mother's health insurer refused to cover her cancer treatments. Worse still, every one of them knew exactly how he felt. That long-simmering indignation is by now the defining experience of every consumer of health care, mortgages, insurance, travel, and financial services—the list goes on.
Obama was elected not only because many Americans feel betrayed and abandoned by their government but because those feelings finally converged with their sense of betrayal at the hands of Corporate America. Their experiences as consumers and as citizens joined to create a wave of revolt against the status quo—as occurred in the American Revolution. Be wary of those who counsel business as usual. This post-election period is a turning point for the business community. It demands an attitude of sober reappraisal and a disposition toward fundamental reinvention. If you don't do it, someone else will.
I found the article very interesting, although I'm not sure which came first. Is it the consumer need for cheap stuff or the corporate need (driven largely by investors) for profit? I think they feed off each other. In order to provide consumers with cheap stuff (which are now more disposable than ever before) made companies cut cost ruthlessly in order to make as much profit as possible. And as companies cut cost by laying off people and reducing wages, people's need for cheap stuff became stronger.
Speaking for myself, I don't expect companies to provide any help in case their products break before the warranty expires. So I buy from either:
- companies well-known for manufacturing reliable products, or
- companies with the cheapest products
The former is usually reserved for big ticket items like laptops, cars, TV, etc. The latter is reserved for little things like ballpoint pens, kitchen timers and notebooks or things that I can live without.
BTW -- I do expect and demand that big Japanese retailers do better than their American counterpart. For example, I buy a lot of electronics from a big regional chain store. Its service staff always provide great assistance when products they sold break down and facilitate the warranty process between their customers and manufacturers. Not to mention, its sales people know everything about the products they sell and are happy to spend however much time necessary to help you make the best purchase possible, even if you leave the store without buying anything. I don't have to waste my time surfing the net for information because somebody there will give me the answer I need to make a decision within a second. The store is not the cheapest in the city, but it earned my loyalty, and I absolutely adore shopping there.
Finally, something to make you laugh -- The Matrix Runs on Windows: