Maximizing Profits Doesn't Mean Screwing Your Customers
from the rinse,-lather,-repeat dept
A few years back, we wrote a post debunking the ridiculous notion spread by some that Craigslist was somehow “anti-capitalist” or not “maximizing profits” because it actually offered most of its services for free. As we noted, much of Craigslist’s long-term success was because of these decisions — which in all likelihood did increase overall profits for the company in the long run by building up further trust in the company. It may not have maximized profits for this quarter, but it most likely was doing a pretty good job in generating profits for the long haul by keeping customers happy, rather than trying to squeeze them for every immediate dime (and who was just saying that Silicon Valley doesn’t have a long term view?)
Now we’ve got another similar story, as the LA Times is positively amazed that the popular virtual world Habbo Hotel limits its users to spending no more than $35/month, on the theory that many of its users are teenagers, who could get sucked into spending on stuff, which could lead to eventual backlash. Its CEO made this clear in a recent interview, saying: “We didn’t want a situation where teens were raiding their parents’ credit cards to be able to play…. We really don’t want teenagers to spend more than the price of two movie tickets a month on Habbo.”
So, how does the LA Times describe this decision? It points out, partly in jest, that “turning down money seems un-American.” Again, even if this wasn’t meant as a serious comment, it’s similar to the silly claims about Craigslist. Habbo Hotel has simply made a strategic long-term decision on ways to best maximize its success for the long haul. And, part of that probably included the calculation that Habbo would have been in quite some trouble if news stories started showing up about kids bankrupting themselves buying virtual trinkets for their Habbo Hotel world. Limiting how much people can spend isn’t anti-American or anti-capitalist or even anti-profit maximization. It’s just taking a much longer term view of the best way to maximize profits over the long run.