Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Demise of the Mid-range Product

I've kept plugging away at The Wal-mart Effect, mostly on my weekly trips down to Charlotte. Since I'm not the one doing most of the shopping for our family, I was somewhat dissociated from some of the factors that the book discusses. It had been at least a year and a half since I had even stepped foot inside a Wal-mart. But as Christmas shopping pulled me in for a quick look in a Sam's Club, I could see the Wal-mart Effect everywhere I looked.

The most noticable difference I've seen in the last few years is the drying up of the mid-market. Just look at coffee makers. Five years ago, it was possible to buy a cheap Mr. Coffee for $20, or a really solid Krups for $100. Now, the downward price pressure from Wal-mart has created a huge gap in the middle of the market. The brands like Krups or Hamilton-Beach that used to make solid last-you-a-decade products are now fielding items made a cheap and cheap-looking plastic. And if you thought you could spend $150 to find a really good coffee maker . . . forget it. You are either buying a $60 shadow, or spending $2,000 on a gleaming contraption that could stand in for a time machine on the Sci-Fi channel. When the hell did people start spending thousands of dollars on a coffee machine? But that, also, is the Wal-mart Effect; manufacturers must either play their game and make cheaper and cheaper products, or they have to boldly differentiate themselves on quality and put a bolder price tag on it to show you that you are not going to find it cheaper down at Target.

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