Deconstructing Reasons To Buy

from the nicely-done dept

A few folks have sent over Cory Doctorow's recent Guardian column on "persuading people to pay" in the digital era when things are free. It sets up a decent framework for looking at different "reasons to buy." You can read the breakdown of each of these at the link, but here's the basic list:
  • Buy this or you'll get in trouble
  • Buy this because it's the right thing to do
  • Buy this because you're supporting something worthwhile
  • Buy this because paying money will deliver high quality
  • Buy this because it is convenient
  • Buy this because your devices won't play the unauthorized version
  • Buy this and you'll get more features than you would with the unauthorized version
Obviously, some of these are a lot more effective than others, but he's trying to create a rather complete list of both good and bad "reasons" that people present. Of course, this also leaves out one of the key points that we've made: "buy this because there's no other way to get it," which would apply to things like access and attention. And, to some extent, it's also why I question the use of the term "persuade" in the title. I think what makes really effective business models is not when you have to "persuade" people to buy, but when they're happy to buy, because it's a transaction that is reasonable and makes both parties better off. Still, it's a good list for those thinking about business models in the digital era, recognizing that many on that list have serious pitfalls.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 2:16am

    Buy this because you want it and you can't get it for free.

    duh.

    I see you're still ignoring the obvious, Masnick.

    Your business model relies on a static landscape of piracy. Seriously, how fucking stupid is that?

    It does explain why your life is devoted to bitching about piracy enforcement.

    Hope this career of selling willfully blind snake oil works out for you.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 2:39am

      Re:

      "willfully blind snake oil"

      If anyone is guilty of being willfully blind it is the content industry who puts out all those error-filled "loss" estimates. Mike at least actually backs his claims up with a firm grasp on economics.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 2:42am

      Re:

      Your business model relies on a static landscape of piracy. Seriously, how fucking stupid is that?


      I'm curious how my business relies on that at all. I'm really scratching my head. How do you figure that? I can assure you, my business does fine no matter what the situation is with "piracy," since my business is totally not impacted by piracy at all.

      Are you getting so desperate in your attempts to shoot the messenger (the one trying to help you) that you're not resorting to delusional fantasies about what business you think I'm in?

       

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        TechnoMage (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 3:52am

        Re: Re:

        I Half wonder if Mike knows who this Anonymous Coward really is.
        Are you getting so desperate in your attempts to shoot the messenger (the one trying to help you)
        The way "you" sounds in there (twice) sounds to me that Mike is directing it to a single known person, but "ehh".
        It would probably be better for plausible deniability if he doesn't admit to that ;) .

        (also I think you meant "you're now resorting" instead of the "not" you have in there)

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 4:33am

        Re: Re:

        What is your "business", Masnick?

        Spell it out.

         

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      Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 2:52am

      Re:

      Buy this because you want it and you can't get it for free.

      Well done paraphrasing:
      Of course, this also leaves out one of the key points that we've made: "buy this because there's no other way to get it,"

      I suspect you mean it to apply to different things than Mike did because you seem to operate under the illusion that there will one day be a way to physically stop people getting digital goods for free, but either way those two phrases are very similar meanings.
      duh.

      I see you're still ignoring the obvious, Masnick.

      I see you're still ignoring the bits of an article that don't fit your view of reality.

      Your business model relies on a static landscape of piracy. Seriously, how fucking stupid is that?

      I've yet to see Mike push any 1 specific business model so I'm not sure what "his" business model is, but the ones I've seen him talk about seem to revolve around there being zero or near-zero incremental cost to digital goods and how to recognise and leverage that to make more money. That's a rather different thing than "piracy" being part of the model. Zero incremental cost is and will be true however much piracy exists and the only way "piracy" reduces (not goes away, it's always been there) is by acknowledging that.

      It does explain why your life is devoted to bitching about piracy enforcement.

      But complaining about dumbness in others is so much fun. It's like responding to really obviously trolling comments when you know you shouldn't - you just can't resist.

      Hope this career of selling willfully blind snake oil works out for you.

      You seem to go through a few bottles a day of the competing brand so there's clearly a market. If that starts to fail I suppose he can always apply to the government to prop up his failing business model with a law or 2.

       

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      The eejit (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 3:36am

      Re:

      And I see that you still should be strelised for the sake of the general public. You're making Michelle Bachmann look like Einstein, what with the random baseless accusations.

       

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    ejbman (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 2:17am

    Another compelling RtB...Community

    One reason I've contributed to a handful of speculative fiction audio podcasts, both with money, time and talent, is because it satisfied my desire to be part of a community. I obtained recognition for my contributions and it gave me some measure (however ill-defined) of 'status' in that community, as well as an (also ill-defined) sense of participation. Both of those might be regarded as somehow falling under 'the right thing to do'; but actually, I might have even behaved the same if it was 'wrong', or 'selfish' or 'egotistical'. Nor was this necessarily 'something worthwhile', since, in at least one case, the audience is likely to be quite limited.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 2:19am

    Buy this or you'll get in trouble
    The Al Capone solution "You get further with a kind word and a gun than just a kind word". Shame they usually forget the "kind word" part. More accurately written as, "buy this because there's an almost vanishingly small chance you'll get in trouble and look on the bright side with those odds you might win the lottery too to make up for it"
    Buy this because it's the right thing to do
    Yeah? By who's definition?
    Buy this because you're supporting something worthwhile
    Meh. Also see above
    Buy this because paying money will deliver high quality
    Yep, sounds good to me.
    Buy this because it is convenient
    Yep, sounds good to me.
    Buy this because your devices won't play the unauthorized version
    ....unless you use one of the 40 or 50 work-arounds that exist for whatever the tenuous technical block is, most of which will be readily available and many of which will make the product simpler to use.
    Buy this and you'll get more features than you would with the unauthorized version
    Meh. Too often features you didn't want in the first place that are clearly stuck in there to justify jacking up the price sky high.

    but when they're happy to buy, because it's a transaction that is reasonable and makes both parties better off.

    That'll do it every time - the feeling that you ended up with something that was actually worth whatever money you paid for it. Also makes for more repeat buyers I'd imagine since in my case if I end up having to buy something that I consider a rip-off either before or after purchase I'll go out of my way not to give my money to the same place next time.

     

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    alex (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 2:48am

    * Buy this because you're supporting something worthwhile

    ++++

     

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    Adam Wasserman (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 4:27am

    Deconstructing

    *****Didatic Alert! Boring Content follows*****

    Not really the correct use of the term.

    A (over)simplification of deconstruction is: to identify the common central themes that are "obvious" and then *ignore* them, while promoting and focusing on the obscure peripheral meanings that everyone else ignores.

    It was a pretty obscure form of literary analysis, so idiosyncratic that only Derrida could really do "properly"

    *****End of boring content*****

     

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    abc gum, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 4:38am

    missed one - in reference to housing, food, etc

    8) Buy this at artificially inflated prices because you have to

     

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    itsmartie, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 5:03am

    WHY Gaurdian

    them rules are stupid you cant force people to buy things on a digital market they will just leave the website you can show them they need it for what ever reason like mmorpg that are free but have premium accounts people pay because you get better items and better service

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 5:05am

    Other direction

    The content industries need to keep this list (and your addition) in mind more then the consumers do. Though I think it needs to be edited a little to take out the subjective morals.

    Buy this or you'll get in trouble - Surprisingly not a reason people listen to.

    Buy this because it's the right thing to do - A little better then the first, but still subjective.

    Buy this because you're supporting something worthwhile - Getting closer, but not quite there

    Buy this because paying money will deliver high quality - Went the wrong direction. More $ != better. The "better" part needs to come before the higher price. AKA: Make it better and you can charge more.

    Buy this because it is convenient - This needs to be true, but it isn't.

    Buy this because your devices won't play the unauthorized version - This needs removed. If my device won't play the unauthorized copy it means my device won't play the authorized copy from someone else.

    Buy this and you'll get more features than you would with the unauthorized version - It worked for me with Futurama, though technically I could have just downloaded the director's commentary.

    Buy this because there's no other way to get it - Ding. Provide something that cannot be obtained anywhere else. Time, physical goods, quality, support, something that the competition cannot replicate.

    Hell, you only need that last one. Follow that rule and people will buy your product (as long as there's actually a market for it).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 5:47am

    "Buy this or you'll get in trouble" - The fear of prosecution did not get me to stop downloading ebooks, but it made my husband freak out when he learned that I had been so I stopped to make him happy.

    But did it then make me BUY what I otherwise would have gotten for free? No. In 2010 I spent over $800 for ebooks (probably more, but this is what I'm sure of). So far in 2011? A smidge over $32.

    "Buy this because you're supporting something worthwhile" - If I liked the ebook I had downloaded, I then purchased a copy for this very reason. Now that I am no longer downloading I either read only legit freebies or ebooks that I get from my Kindle lending club. I have purchased the few of those I have enjoyed, but my greatly reduced "preview" reading has led to the greatly reduced spending I noted above.

    So content providers may be happy that a pirate has been converted, but the consequence is that I am giving them much less of my money because of it.

     

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    Jesse (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 7:13am

    A few more...

    Buy this to show off to your friends (i.e. any cool gadget)
    Buy this as a status symbol (i.e. a huge art collection)
    Buy this and we'll publicly recognize your contribution (i.e. in a CD jacket)

    These aren't necessarily the only reason to buy, but they may become contributing factors if you set it up right (for example by strong branding).

     

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      The Groove Tiger (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 8:01am

      Re: A few more...

      I don't think "reason to buy" actually means the primary (or secondary?) function or purpose of the product, but the reason you have for paying for it.

      Buy this to listen to (would apply to all music, but is not a reason to buy).

       

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        Jesse (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 4:56pm

        Re: Re: A few more...

        I like to think that there are a number of contributing factors/reasons an individual buys a thing. Not sure if that's what you were driving at.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 7:19am

    music has been overvalued since the 70s

    In the mid 90s a CD would cost around $20 at my local mall. A cheap rice cooker cost about the same. I would listen to a CD a few times and by then the it would essentially have no more value to me. The rice cooker cooks my rice for dinner at least once a week and will probably last 5 to 10 years at minimum. The amount of value a rice cooker has compared to a popular CD is fascinating considering they cost about the same.

    CD prices have gone down some, but enough. Itunes and other music renters still charge too much. In my opinion an unlimited on-demand music streaming service available on ANY device is worth at most $2 to $3 per month.

    Ps. I love Crunchyroll.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 8:21am

    Heh, I haven't seen anyone point out the feelings associated with the different tactics.
    Buy this or you'll get in trouble
    - I don't like being threatened, I resent this method. I will stop buying as soon as it is practical, just out of resentment.
    Buy this because it's the right thing to do
    - If I agree, I'm happy. If I don't, well I'm not buying, but if there is some guilt trip attempt, I will resent this tactic.
    Buy this because you're supporting something worthwhile
    - Same as above really, it's all about the warm-fuzzies.
    Buy this because paying money will deliver high quality
    - I'm happy with this tactic, your not tugging on emotions to convince me.
    Buy this because it is convenient
    - I'm happy with this tactic too
    Buy this because your devices won't play the unauthorized version
    - I resent this for the reason I like the previous tactic. I'm happy with making life easier and resent attempts to make it harder on purpose.
    Buy this and you'll get more features than you would with the unauthorized version
    - I'm happy with this, adding value like the higher quality.

    It's important to remember not to screw with your customers. If they resent your business/company they will go elsewhere when there's viable option. That leaves you open for competition to easily convert your customers. I guess the only way to prevent that is prevent competition. Get you bribe money ready, no wait I mean marketing and donations, sorry,

     

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      Jesse Townley (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 11:41am

      Re: EXACTLY!!!!

      "If they resent your business/company they will go elsewhere when there's viable option."

      Exactly. We work hard to keep a personal & political & social connection with our label's fans. We know that as soon as we release something, it's available, somewhere, for free.

      (I'm the GM of indie record label that sells physical & digital formats of audio recordings)

       

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    bob, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 10:21am

    Wow

    Let me just welcome this blogspace and Mister Doctorow to the conversation about how we can fund the creation of content now that t-shirts and ads aren't able to sustain the content we would like to have. While others may repeat old grudges, I prefer to celebrate the epiphany.

    Let's take bets on how long it takes Cory to come up with some kind of paywall-equivalent and start blogging about how his version of a paywall is cool. I'm guessing it just needs to be put in the right terms. What if someone created an "artists' union" and then used a paywall-like mechanism to force the world to support the artists'-union if they consumed any of the bounty? That might do it.

    I'm guessing that the over-under here is about 6 months until Cory comes around and starts celebrating paywalls altogether. He just won't call them paywalls.

     

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    Wesha (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 3:03pm

    Mike, you are missing one more thing:

    Competition.

    YES, buyers do compete, when the seller gives them a chance to compete!

    Top Contributions list at http://www.humblebundle.com/ is a brilliant, if underappreciated idea.

    Am I the only one who noticed?

     

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