When "improvements" go wrong: what happened to consumer choice?

By | March 17, 2012
When "improvements" go wrong: what happened to consumer choice?

I'm having an incredibly difficult time finding diapers for my daughter. There used to be suitable diapers out there, but they aren't commercially available here anymore.

Story: The baby gets a rash when she has elastic stuff on her legs. This means that the standard disposable diapers don't work. It also means that the 'new and improved' cloth diapers with a poo-overflow prevention mechanism (i.e. elastic band around the legs) don't work. The ancient cloth diapers with a tie-system do work, but they're almost impossible to find – except second-hand if you're lucky enough to know someone who still has them.

I've also noticed this same phenomenon – must-purhase things that you don't need or want in new cars, not-so-smart phones, etc. What ever happened to consumer choice, and what do people do who can't find what they're looking for?

5 thoughts on “When "improvements" go wrong: what happened to consumer choice?

  1. Michael-Forest M.

    The way to reverse it is market pressure. If more people continue to buy the old thing instead of the new thing, even at higher prices, manufacturers will usually continue to make the old thing (unless laws have prohibited them from doing so). The problem is when only a tiny handful of people prefer the old thing, and everyone else purchases the new thing…

  2. Sophie Wrobel

    +Tammy McLeod we often go the DIY route if importing via the internet isn't an affordable / available option. But it is time-consuming and annoying.

    I also agree that consumer choice is not a priority for business – business is concerned about making money, and money comes from packing all providers in a particular niche market packing useless features in to raise the price of the product. That is, until a Tata Nano comes into the market and makes them rethink their model. I do wonder, though: Is there any way to reverse the phenomenon?

  3. Tammy McLeod

    I often encounter this problem for various things myself, sadly. Solutions include making my own if possible, finding an expert on the internet to make it for me, getting friends in other countries to find it for me, stocking up while I still can, or just hanging on as long as possible to the item to delay the inevitable.

    I can't imagine consumer choice is a priority for businesses — it's about what makes money.


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