Seth Godin has another great post about the price of content (Compared to perfect: the price/value mismatch in content), in which he suggests that “there is no thrift store for content.” In other words, content gets compared to perfect, not other similarly priced alternatives, as happens in most other categories. Godin notes that if we are asked how we like a bottle of wine, we compare it to other bottles of a wine. A $12 bottle might be a great $12 bottle, but we don’t expect it to be as good as a $100 bottle (although if someone switches the price tags on us, we may switch our own observations– but that is the subject of other posts, like this and this). But we don’t think a matinee movie only needs to be half as good as a movie we see in the evening. So far, I’ve with Seth.
But content is not different. We expect the same from the matinee and the full price movie because we expect the movie to be the same. We judge books based on how we like them, because books are generally around $10-$25. We don’t expect to pay $200 for a really awesome book like some people might with wine or clothes. Differentiation of content is more about how the content is experienced, as Seth himself notes. Rabid fans may pay hundreds of dollars to hear their favorite band play live, but casual fans won’t. The band can’t charge the rabid fans more for an album, but they can create a special limited edition box set priced at $50. Casual fans may find a used CD worth buying for $5.
(Interestingly, one author publishing ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle store got a 20x volume increase from a 2/3 price cut, suggesting that their is, in fact, a thrift store for content.)
In short, content is just like anything else, which means there is a thrift store for content. Just understand how to segment your market/audience.