Revisiting the Fine Art of Infatuation

Nintendo’s Wii is a great example of an offering that has created an extended infatuation.  Consumers were so infatuated with the Wii, that during the bleak holiday season of 2008, a full two years after its market introduction,  it still doubled its sales volume from that of a year before, and there was so much extra demand that the secondary market price for the $250 unit was at a $100 premium on the internet.  Clearly, consumers just could not get enough.

Here is some humorous proof of the Wii’s lingering infatuation hold.  There was a news blip in September 2009 about a mishandled police raid earlier in the year of a convicted drug dealer’s home near Lakeland, Florida.  Apparently, within twenty minutes of entering the empty house, some of the investigators noticed a Wii video bowling game lying around and found it too irresistible to ignore.   They began bowling frame after frame.  As the article points out:  “A Polk County sheriff’s detective cataloging evidence repeatedly put down her work and picked up a Wii remote to bowl. When she hit two strikes in a row, she raised her arms above her head, jumping and kicking.  The detectives did not know that a wireless security camera connected to a computer inside the home was recording their activity.” (Source: article by Steve Andrews, News Channel 8, September 21, 2009).  Even though it looks bad, you can’t blame the officers.  After all, they were still trapped within the Infatuation Interval of the Wii and obviously under its spell – therefore hardly responsible for their own irresponsible conduct.

But infatuation gradually wears off. What happens when consumers start to express their dissatisfaction, and it goes unanswered?  Consumers will eventually turn away from the offering altogether, if they have the opportunity.    But even if consumer don’t fully turn away or are not yet in a position to do so, they become more and more reluctant users – so that they will voice their displeasure more and more and their affinity for the offering less and less – continuously turning from fans into  disgruntled critics.  Which is what may happen with me unless iTunes finds a way to fix what I perceive to be its weaknesses, or if a new carry-on bag catches my eye that is just as cool as my Samsonite but much more user friendly.

What I am describing here is a clear transition by consumers in their relationships with offerings that surround them.   Any well-received offering first finds itself in an Infatuation Interval™, in which consumers just can’t get enough of it.   However, this interval is, by its very nature, fleeting, and with a few exceptions gives way to the Entitlement Period™, in which consumers feel entitled to all of the offering’s perceived benefits and demand more.

So how can you create infatuated consumers and keep them infatuated?  These are questions I will explore in my next installment.