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Companies need to stay paranoid as consumers have their rip off radar up and disruptors are everywhere.

ROAR. We’ve jokingly called it the ‘Rip Off Audience Radar’…. As a consumer, you start to get a sense that you aren’t getting value for your money. You used to get that feeling a little bit here and there 10 years ago. For most people nowadays thanks to the internet, mobiles, the sharing economy and freemium business models, the radar has never been so firmly up…. We are all savvier, in real-time, there are short cuts to advice and recommendations, price comparisons within one click. In the past the lack of information and choice meant we had to turn to experts more, to guide you to the right products and services… and as such, they could charge an unhealthy mark-up for that expertise, often abusing our trust…

Wingman can only talk of its experiences – but we have really felt ROAR recently.

People don’t mind paying money for things, often a lot of money if they feel they are getting value.

We don’t think people mind knowing companies are making a profit out of them. When it’s a two-way relationship- a win-win (I get the product or service I needed, over delivering on my expectations, saving me time, making something of real quality, removing some friction… and you get a profit from my hard-earned cash, I don’t mind that). I don’t mind paying some quite high prices for Rapha cycling gear, or for my iPhone. I don’t mind knowing that Simon Mottram, the owner of Rapha is profiting as he built something I love. I almost don’t mind that Apple have had revenues of $45.4bn in the last quarter (ok I am starting to mind now as the sense of ROAR might be coming to their products again, partly because expectations were or are so high) … I love my iPhone and how empowering it is. ROAR is when you feel a company is making a profit out of you yet they aren’t giving them really what they wanted or it feels ‘standard’.  That feeling used to happen in most cities when on holiday with tourist traps… when you know you are being ripped off but you have less information at your disposal to know value or alternatives.

No one in London would ever ever eat here. A classic tourist trap 

No one in London would ever ever eat here. A classic tourist trap 

Just think of all the places where your rip off radar has been up…. Estate agents (Purple Bricks, Zoopla, Zillow), travel agents – no thanks I can create my own itinerary and find my own flights thanks, hotels. My ROAR was so up on hotels then Airbnb and HomeAway came along. Airbnb is now bigger than the world’s top five hotel brands put together: flexibility, a more personal and local experience rather than paying over the odds for a sub-standard club sandwich and a bland experience.

No more bad club sandwiches 

No more bad club sandwiches 

It’s happening in so many products and services…. Magazines… ROAR… why was I paying for a book that I had to carry around, with mostly just advertising in it? I pay and the advertisers pay. ROAR. I now have Instagram to browse for imagery… tailored to what I like (mostly although I am being bombarded by watch brands) for free. Why buy books – Audible, podcasts. Of course, I didn’t need CDs, I turned to iTunes, of course I didn’t need to pay for songs on iTunes, ROAR, I turned to Spotify as has 140m other people.

Maybe after reading this you might be more alert to that feeling of ROAR. That sense that the product is sub-standard and you are paying over the odds for the experience. If you have that feeling with a product or service its likely its going to be disrupted soon like so many…..A Canon camera… ROAR: do I really need to pay £500-1000 for a camera now my iPhone takes great photos? London taxis e.g. Black hackney carriage or Ad Lee when it’s just so easy with Uber. 

Cringey to say the least 

Cringey to say the least 

My ROAR is up on luxury now… let’s take watches… the old formulaic model of ambassador within a  passion point in an ad that made you want to be them. Paying over the odds for status symbol… there is less value there now… the ROAR is well and truly up. Do people really feel paying £1500 for a Tag now is value? Especially when you see all the ambassadors (Instagram ads) they are paying that’s my money paying for that… ROAR.

Michelin star restaurants ROAR. A guide and white linen. Celebrity chefs over extending their brand and charging more for because of their name. Clerkenwell Boy on Instagram can tell me whether my sense that its overpriced is accurate.  

The sense that you aren’t getting the optimal value, or a tailored experience worth paying for. I would love to say lawyers but that seems a way away till disruption (maybe not with AI though)….

It’s happened in Formula One. Being at the races I started to see that race fans were getting a crap experience… the ROAR is up at the moment… FOM are feeling it and now trying to act fast.  

Cable TV…… ROAR. Now more people subscribe to Netflix than cable in the US now.  

Football… Premier League players getting so much money, not giving a sh*t about loyalty, yet supporters are paying so much for a ticket. The cost of going to watch a match now is prohibitive for so many. Most must be starting to feel the ROAR. Chinese perimeter boards, it’s starting to feel a bit alien and distant…. ROAR. Watch people switch off in the future?   

The radar is up on gym memberships… get paranoid Virgin... The rise of turbo trainers, Zwift, Barry’s Bootcamp, Another_Space pay as you go, flexibility, social. 

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Retail, my god the radar is more than up….. Expensive shops, sub-standard shop assistants that really don’t care about customer service, expensive displays, stock and sizes… it’s all starting to feel really expensive, unnecessary and therefore ROAR… Amazon, makes life easier, paying what trust is the best price (not always but you can shop around so quickly to compare). Amazon’s conservative $365bn valuation is so big, its larger than Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, Kohl’s, JCPenney, and Sears combined. The ROAR on retail has been around for a while.

Cinema popcorn. ROAR. Cars. ROAR. French wine. ROAR. Recruitment Consultants. ROAR. Retail banking. ROAR.

So if you are a company and you sense that you are making too good a margin and that you really aren’t providing good value… start to feel paranoid (only the paranoid survive) as the crowd (savvy consumers and disruptive companies) feeling the ROAR are coming for you….