Monday, 23 July 2018

Buyhaviour 9: Red Queen Hypothesis

The most curious part of the thing was [as they ran] that the trees and the other things around them never changed their places at all: however fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything. And the Queen cried, 'Faster! Don't try to talk!'...

... And they went so fast that at last they seemed to skim through the air, hardly touching the ground with their feet, till suddenly, just as Alice was getting quite exhausted, they stopped, and she found herself sitting on the ground, breathless and giddy. The Queen propped her up against a tree, and said kindly, 'You may rest a little now'.


Alice looked round her in great surprise. 'Why, I do believe we've been under this tree the whole time! Everything's just as it was!' 'Of course it is,' said the Queen, 'what would you have it?' 'Well, in our country,' said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else—if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing. 


''A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

From Lewis Carroll's “Through the Looking-Glass; known as The Red Queen's Race. And a metaphor for marketing. 

At The Ehrenberg Bass Institute we called it 'The Leaky Bucket Effect': Your brand inexorably leaks customers (as it shares them with other brands according to the duplication of purchase law), so you have to continuously acquire new ones, just to keep the bucket at the same level

In other words, like the Red Queen, you have to run very fast just to stay in the exact same spot - hold your market share. Yet, because of the current fascination with loyalty, this presents an opportunity for your brand:

While others are obsessed with trying to plug the leak - over-investing in digital, which generally limits reach to existing customers - you have a chance to follow the queen's advice and 'run twice as fast' by focussing on reach and acquisition.

More from the Buyhaviour Series:

Buyhaviour Series: An Introduction 
Buyhaviour 1: Availability Bias 
Buyhaviour 2: Status Quo Bias 
Buyhaviour 3: Confirmation Bias 
Buyhaviour 4: Conjunction Fallacy 
Buyhaviour 5: The Spotlight Effect
Buyhaviour 6: The Matthew Effect  
Buyhaviour 7: Fight or Flight Heuristic
Buyhaviour 8: Imposter Phenomenon 
Buyhaviour 9: Red Queen Hypothesis 

Christopher Ott

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