Familiarty vs Superiority and cognitive-lockin

Windows Vista BasicA recent study from the Journal of Consumer Research and highlighted by ars technica indicates that most consumers are a little duped when it comes to judging the superiority of consumer products. Too often the average consumer is loyal to a product simply because of familiarity. That’s not all that bad, but they mistake that familiarity for superiority.

As most readers know, I’m a huge Linux fan. All too often, I hear people say that Microsoft Windows is superior to Linux, even among technical individuals. In many ways, they are correct. If you are looking at software availability and hardware compatibility, windows wins that battle hands down. However, both of those are not necessarily signs of technical superiority, but rather signs of availability. But if you look at stability, security and total cost of ownership, Linux wins. The main reason the general public is unfamiliar with Linux is simply because of the “Microsoft Marketing Machine,” and the fact that Linux is a relative newcomer to the desktop market.

Now let’s step outside of software and computers. What about cars? Appliances? Furniture? Electronics?

Of course, the more complicated the product, the more familiarity is needed and thus the more “cognitive-lockin.” Many companies rely on this type of lock-in to create a perceived customer loyalty.

So now that you are aware of this type of marketing, are you going to fall for it? Or do you even care? Is familiarity more important than superiority?

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