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The Popularity Issue

Popularity is not a state of grace. In business, it is treasure hard-won on the battlefields of product development and marketing, then leveraged or squandered or stolen back. Most of the products and ideas showcased here—the stuff we buy, sell, and otherwise consume the most—owe their status in part to aggressive sales tactics, from knocking on doors to strong-arming grocers to gain the best shelf space. In its most potent and permanent form, however, Popularity transcends sales pitches, advertising, fads, and maybe even conscious choice. One rarely reads or talks or thinks about peanut butter, yet Jif has eaten Skippy's lunch for 20 years, a sustained level of popularity that the iPhone can only dream about. While Jif rolls on, the iPhone—the most buzzworthy product of the last decade—will probably take its place amid the Palm and the Walkman in the great closeout bin in the sky. In short, if we have to think about a purchase, it's in a precarious position. The things we rarely pause to consider are the ones that stay on top.
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The Popularity Issue

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