The Age of Popularity


When I began looking for a blog that I find intriguing, I had no topics or styles in mind.  What I stumbled upon was the blog of Rick S. Pulito called ideationz and his most recent blog post about the end of brand exceptionalism.

In this blog post, Pulito discusses how visibility and buzz have become more important than great products and services.  Now more than ever, there is a need to create a hype around a product than to have a perfectly efficient assembly line or innovative engineering.  This no doubt, is related to the social media explosion which seems to place such emphasis on being socially accepted.  Although Pulito does not go into much detail, I think his point is clear: we are in a new age where being liked trumps being the best.

When I think about some of the most successful companies today, I cannot say with ease, or barely at all, that they create the best product of their kind.   Take Nike, do you really think that they have the best shoes?  That these shoes provide the best possible performance, or are the most comfortable, or the most well-made? I don’t believe it is these notions that compelled almost every student on the Bucknell campus into buying Nike running shoes. It was the brand name, and the buzz, and the idea that if you have Nike shoes you will be accepted by your peers.  I’m not insinuating that Nike doesn’t have quality shoes, I merely mean that their success and popularity is not founded on the creation of an exceptional shoe.

What my question to Rick was, how exactly does he suggest companies forge ahead in this changing environment?  Should management cutback investing into R&D and spend it all on marketing and PR?  For some reason this just doesn’t seem right, that this would be the way to succeed, even in todays world.

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7 thoughts on “The Age of Popularity

  1. I think the concept of being liked vs. being the best is a huge issue that companies are facing today. From a personal experience I could have chosen the iPhone 4s or the Samsung Galaxy III which reportedly is better than the iPhone. Despite the fact that Samsung produced a more efficient phone with more advanced features, I decided to go with the Apple product. I subconsciously went with the cool factor over the best factor. I agree with you that cutting R&D and increasing marketing isn’t necessarily the answer, but it certainly is interesting to think about.

  2. The debate between being liked or being the best is an easy one when it comes to technology. I know that I am one of the least tech-savy people out there. In my case, owning a phone or computer that is “the best” may not be the best for me because I’ll have no idea how to use it. Companies keep pressing forward and innovating, which I’m sure benefits technology at large. However, I wonder if other people feel the same threshold of tolerance that I do for the complicated products that are coming out. At what point is innovation just for innovation’s sake?

  3. This is something I’ve also noticed but never really understood. It makes me think of the fast food restaurant “Sonic” that recently opened a store near my house. They advertised the store months before they even began construction to build a hype around their products. I went soon after it was built and was sincerely disappointing.

  4. I think this is a really cool blog idea! I have always been very interested in the Advertising and Marketing industry especially in the realm of brand management so it is really cool that there is a blog dedicated to the tracking of brands and how the brand visibility affects consumers. I also agree with your point that being the most well liked isn’t necessarily being the best. Another example of this is Tom’s shoes. They are a HUGE brand name right now and recently a copy of the shoes was made called Bob’s. Although they look the same and serve the same function, they will never gain the popularity of Tom’s because they are so well liked.

  5. really love this post. Being liked vs. what’s actually the best is a huge debate between products. For the longest time I had a droid cell phone. It was a perfectly good phone, but when all of my friends were carrying around their Iphone’s, I just had to have one. There was nothing wrong with the one I had, and it’s cell service was actually a lot better. Regardless, the popularity and buzz over the iphone made me give in to the trend and now I can’t imagine living with another phone.

  6. In terms of the best technological product and most liked product not being the same, especially for smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhone, I believe there certain factors that cause this phenomenon.

    The first is that even if the Samsung Galaxy is technologically better, it is only marginal, and is that something the average consumer (like mfv003) would even recognize? Apple found its niche and has for the most part blown the competition out of the water by catering to the average consumer.

    Also, there is a reason why everyone is choosing Apple iPhone’s over Samsung Galaxy’s. How many people do you know who has a Galaxy? Why would you want a phone that isn’t as compatible with the phone your friend uses? People want to be able to have a group chat through iMessage, and not be that friend that’s left out or causes the text bubbles to switch to green.

  7. In my opinion, I think being the best in the market place is just one way of doing business. A product can be best of its kind, or the most liked, or the cheapest. It all depends on how the company wants to position the product. But the basic psychological factor why we all buy stuffs is we want to look cool, and we like it when other people envy us. So, I think Apple’s strategy is still quite effective.

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