A recent business trip to Sofia, Bulgaria provided the unexpected backdrop to a new business trend I have discovered that I’d like to call the “Tombola Effect”.
Being faced with a lack of coffee, restaurant and bar chains, as you are in the old Eastern Block, I started to realise our growing dependency on all things the same.
Wasn’t it the communists that were supposed to have created all things equal, the same? Now it’s Comrade Starbucks and Comdiv Wagamamas.
Ironically, walking around the Ex-Communist Bulgaria, it was the pleasure of being welcomed by a mix of random bars and cafés that was pleasantly uplifting.
But as consumers we search out for more and more from our single serving culture, where comfort is in plentiful supply: provided by repetition, further helping multi-national chains scale monotonously across borders. It’s difficult not to ask yourself if Capitalism really fosters choice, or were we all duped by Cold War propaganda?
The reason businesses like to churn out the same product is because it makes managing a Countrywide or Global concern easier, so makes economic sense and so many levels. So we are bombarded with monotonous one size fits all offerings, and in turn we consume them all averting risk for comfort.
Technology and, for now, the web also suits one size fits all. Okay, not in its entirety but the opportunity to tailor offerings is seldom deployed in favour of more a standard, repetitive mantra.
I’m not going to get into politics, but there is a revolutionary trend in business emerging, the consumer proletariat is rising.
To the “Tombola Effect”.
As any parent will tell you, at any school fête the Tombola is the busiest stall. Why? Well it offers a known deliverable: in this case, a present, although you don’t know exactly what you are going to get.
Uber the ride share and cab company is a prime example of a business benefiting from the Tombola Effect. We know we are going to get a cab, it is probably not going to be cheaper than a black cab, but, it will be different. We know we will be getting a cab, but not what type!
Kippsy, the collaborative accommodation platform I founded, makes use of the same trend. The guest knows that they will get a quality apartment with transparent features such as a lift, or a parking space; and they know the location, and have a feel for the accommodation from photos. But they are always pleasantly surprised to walk in the door at the personal touches, and more so than when they book a standard hotel room.
Now the Tombola effect is not necessary new, Ian Shraeger used this to launch the first Boutique Hotels, at the time, this rallied against the trend for box standard hotels.
He also made design and high fashion affordable, not necessarily to the masses, but certainly to the aspiring.
What is relevant now in this movement is that it is a counter culture to mass consumerism which is starting to look in its current form like mass communism!
Phil Cooper is Founder & CEO of holiday rental marketplace Kippsy.