The Fine Art of Infatuation

I’ll come right out and say it: There’s no such thing as a perfectly and continuously satisfied consumer. Go ahead, test this on yourself. Think of your favorite products and services. Ask yourself this:  Is it absolutely perfect just the way it is, or could it somehow be even better?

Can you think of any new attributes that would make your favorite things even more perfect? Of course you can. There are endless possibilities for further improvement, creating new layers of comfort, personalization, convenience, style, fun, harmony, security, simplicity, variety, etc.

Some readers may object to this and suggest that there is in fact a product or service that is perfect just the way it is. Have you felt that way? What you are actually feeling is infatuation, not satisfaction. Let me explain.

While there is no such thing as a perfectly and continuously satisfied consumer, there is such a thing as an infatuated consumer. As with personal relationships, infatuation occurs when consumers first come in contact with a product or a service that deeply resonates with them.  Consequently they become temporarily blinded by any shortcomings or possible defects, and are in a trance of positive affiliation. Think of your favorite gadget or car or even house. How elated you felt, and how that sense of complete elation gradually wore off with time.

I would like to share a couple of my favorite things to illustrate: I am passionate about iTunes and have a soft spot for my Samsonite Black Label carry-on travel bag. I love the idea that I can create a musical library of every piece of music that I like no matter how eclectic, that I can easily browse and discover new music, and that each new song is so affordable. But I can also tell you a half a dozen things that genuinely irritate me about iTunes, that I wish were different, such as the time limit for sampling songs prior to purchase, the inability to search for songs without knowing their exact titles, the continuous version upgrades, or all the music that is not yet accessible via iTunes.

Same with my Samsonite bag. I fly a lot, so my travel accessories are important to me. My Samsonite bag is great because it is very lightweight and durable, packs surprisingly well, and best of all, has a slick, distinctive, jet-black design. But what I find continuously bothersome is that the bag has no side pockets of any sort. I guess that would have compromised the ultra cool design. As a result, I have to set down and unzip the entire bag every time I want to retrieve any of my travel essentials, such as my passport or the book I happen to be reading or my iPod. Why should I have to sacrifice or overlook basic convenience in exchange for all the things that I really like about the bag?

The lesson to be learned here is that no matter how much you are able to infatuate your customers at first, there will come a time when it will wear off. Which is why you always have innovate, try new things and try to delight all over again.

Gabor George Burt is an internationally recognized expert on innovation, creativity and strategy development. His spheres of expertise help organizations to overstep perceived limitations and to carve out successful growth strategies. Share the excitement surrounding Gabor’s upcoming book Slingshot at or on Twitter ( @slingshotliving ).