Don’t Give People What They Want

I came across a great quote today while reading “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne (Harvard Business Review Press, 2005).Theater by alan cleaver on flickr

Samuel “Roxy” Rothapfel, previously a nickelodeon owner, started up Palace Theaters. By using the low-cost, lower-quality nickelodeon style of entertainment, he reinvented this experience for more elaborate, extravagant affairs that played upscale at an affordable price. In so doing, he changed the entire industry.

The Palace Theaters, between 1914 and 1922, opened four thousand new Palace Theaters across the US. During this age of non-demanding consumers, ‘movie-going’ became a popular entertainment product. How did Roxy come up with the idea? It’s well explained in the following quote.

Roxy said, “Giving people what they want is fundamentally and disastrously wrong. The people don’t know what they want… (Give) them something better.” By combining the viewing environments of elaborate opera houses, with the viewing content of nickelodeons, a new market, or Blue Ocean, opened up and attracted a whole new mass of moviegoers: the upper and middle classes.

When business owners today choose offerings, they are often advised to decide based on focus groups and surveys. That’s fine if you just want to provide something based on what the consumer already experiences. But as Roxy knew, to find success, you must uncover these unknown, unspoken wants and needs and then create your product or service to satisfy it at the highest level possible. Then you have innovation… and a new Blue Ocean market.

The book, Blue Ocean Strategy has many tidbits of wisdom like this inside and I recommend it for anyone that wants to bring ideas to market. It’s not just for corporate execs either. Every small business entrepreneur needs to determine ways to shake up their products, to anticipate what the next, best thing is that people really want. As Albert Einstein once said, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you got.”

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.


We do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.


  1. DaElisione Malina on March 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips for beginner blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

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