Today we have an editorial for you by me! I make no claims to be an expert in business but this article comes more from my observations of the past few months and my limited knowledge of human nature. Warning! Great Wall of Text incoming! TL;DR can be found at the end
Something new and strange is happening in the world of business today. Thanks to the internet, the world is becoming increasingly connected on a global scale. No longer am I limited to my experiences in my own town, state, or even country, but now I am connected to other people in other parts of the world. This has huge implications in all areas of our lives but as a teacher, I am really feeling the impact in my classroom and feel like this is changing what it means to be a successful business.
For those who are or have been in high school, you know how people like to form their own groups or cliques. While globalization has not changed the fact that these cliques happen, something interesting has happened about the structure of cliques and the people that are a part of them. In particularly small communities, people tend to bunch together regardless of personal interests. If there are only 10 people who live near you, you will be less likely to ignore friendship, even if you have few common interests, right? I have witnessed this myself as a teacher at a boarding school: you find yourself being friends with people with whom you might not usually associate because there just aren't many alternatives.
|This is the internet|
So what does this have to do with business? As an avid consumer of miniatures games and related products, I'm finding that customers are much more vocal about their displeasure when the product is not to their liking. Wait, no, it's not that they're more vocal, it's that there are more people who will listen. If I complain to my colleagues about the GW price hikes, they will scratch their heads, but if I mention it online, suddenly there is a community with similar interests to my own who will pay attention. Doing business is no longer about what you can get away with, because your customers talk to each other and good customer service isn't enough anymore. People can see the big picture and - even if they're wrong - their perceptions can taint entire swaths of a community and disrupt normal business.
|The first Google Image Search for "GW Price Hike"|
|Finecast resin is cheaper than metal... for the company|
Games Workshop is making withdrawals from the "Love Bank" they have with their customers, without making any deposits. With such a love deficit, many (such as myself) have moved-on to other games, other experiences. It feels like ending an abusive relationship. I keep looking and seeing what new things GW is up to, wanting to go back, but deep down I know that as soon as I trust her, she'll just hurt me and disappoint me again.
|"Classic" Boneswarm... wait, what?!|
In this author's opinion, PP needs to tread lightly, as they have done a great job making deposits in their customer "Love Bank" and this is one big withdrawal. This has the potential to blow up in their face, especially considering they have experienced incredible growth this last year (I've heard 400%!) and I'm sure that much of that comes from those emigrating from GW games like Warhammer 40k and Fantasy Battles because of some unpopular company decisions. Let's hope that PP will at least address this issue publicly (they aren't hiding the fact that the price hasn't changed) and reassure their fans. They won't lose anyone, but people will certainly become skeptical, and that's not a place you want to be at in such a niche market.
TL;DR - Business these days require you to appreciate your customers because there are lots of people who will listen to their complaints, thanks to the internet. Games Workshop has made some mistakes and lost lots of customers for business decisions that didn't have the customer in mind. Privateer Press needs to be careful that they don't make the same mistakes if they want to be successful.