Marketing in a world when the good-fast-cheap rule no longer applies (all the time)

In the marketing and advertising business, there’s a rule of thumb that most agencies generally believe to be true. It’s the rule of good-fast-cheap and that you can only get two out of the three. For example, if you want something that’s good and fast, it won’t be cheap. If you want something that’s cheap and fast, it won’t be good. You get the idea.

But the good-fast-cheap rule may be on shaky ground in this age of increased information flow, global travel and technology — and maybe consumer demand. One of the first categories to break the good-fast-cheap barrier is…Chinese food. Yes, visit any of the hundreds of Chinese restaurants in Vancouver and Toronto and you will see that this is true. Chinese food is good, fast and cheap.

When my extended family and I go for dim sum, the average cost per head is about $10. $15 if we’re really hungry. Remember, dim sum is not fast food. There’s table service and in some cases, white linen. The food is good and it comes out fast. And for dinner, we can feast on a gourmet meal with Dungeness crab for about $25 a person. All with the freshest ingredients, live seafood in saltwater tanks and imported delicacies.

Other examples of good-cheap-fast? Downloadable music and apps, and long-distance calling come to mind. I’m sure there are a host of others too.

So what does a world look like where the traditional good-fast-cheap model no longer applies, or at least not all the time? It polarizes the market. You’re either good-fast-cheap — all three — or you’re not (still two out of the three). What I also believe is that the market will continue to move in this direction putting pressure on many products and services. While this dynamic merits further exploration and discussion, it’s a real phenomenon and marketers will need to examine this sooner than later. What do you think?

– Sonny

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