We often hear stories about many once successful corporations losing their market positions, their customer loyalty and decline at a precipitous rate, eventually going bankrupt or being swallowed by one of their newer competitors. There could be many factors that may push companies towards this state of affairs. Sudden changes in consumer habits, emergence of new technology, change in geopolitical conditions etc. to name a few will definitely have detrimental effect on the fortunes of companies. However, the biggest factor, in my opinion, that can easily destroy a company is when it becomes complacent and stops to innovate and adapt. Complacency, my dear friends, is the number one cause of death for many a great companies.

But we all know that already, what’s your point? You ask.

How about the other side of the equation? Are we as consumers prone to the same effects of Complacency?

Just two days ago, I have had an epiphanous event happen to me at work. My favorite Google Chrome browser, which I need to step every minute of my work day, dropped dead on me. Any URL I type in, both external and internal, just wouldn’t load. Not knowing its an issue with the browser, I spent a bit of time restarting my machine, resetting my router, among a few other things. None of them seemed to have an effect, and out of desperation I switched to Firefox. Sure enough, Firefox was working perfectly fine and I was able to get my work done. But, what surprised me was not that Firefox was working, but it was at least a 20 times faster than Chrome was all these years. I got complacent as a consumer, and didn’t actively look out for what else is out there. I trusted a product, and didn’t look elsewhere. Only when the product died on me have I realized that I was using an inferior product all along.

My experience with the browsers is only anecdotal and I do not have any benchmarks to back my claims. But that’s beside the point. The fact that we get used to something, a product, a service or even a company makes us complacent. It blinds us to the other players, new and old, who could be giving us a better bang for the buck. It is in a way unfair to the hardworking people of these other companies who are trying to get our business. All their innovation, hard work and at times their willingness to take smaller profits, should be rewarded by us.

So, take a good hard look at your consuming behavior. Are you rewarding the right players, picking the right companies and the right services? Are you applying the same benchmarks to your personal consumption as you would at your work? Finally, do you realize that the relationship between consumers and producers is a two way street?

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