Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Some Transparancy

I was recently thinking about some costs/price breakdown types of concepts (maybe spurred on by reading about the popcorn markup figures). Something that might really be cool and help a business (as well as the whole state of the world) would be having some transparency in the costs associated with something you purchase.

Let's say, for example, I'm buying a movie ticket. All I see is a price tag of 10.00. In my mind, that's totally unreasonable given what I used to be able to pay and that I'm also bringing along 4 friends meaning for all of us to watch the movie costs 50.00 (when we could rent something for 2.) . That's the perspective that I'm afforded.

But what if Instead of just 10.00, I saw a breakdown like the following...
-$5.00 copyright/film rental
-$2.00 marketing
-$1.00 theater maintenance
-$0.05 materials
-$0.50 supplemental movie materials (reviews, pamphlets)
-$0.45 theater profits

Not only would I not bitch about having to pay 10.00, but I'd probably want to pay more so the theater could stay alive. And I'd be a little bit smarter about how the world worked with not much additional effort.

And what if we could take it one step further. And if you could only pay for the parts that you wanted. Let's say I didn't feel like going to the bathroom, or that I didn't need to read a movie review. Then maybe my ticket price would go down to 9.00. If this was honestly reported (or it could probably even be checked by using smart tickets), then there could be savings in overhead/maintenance/materials by reviewing the data and predicting intelligently. And it would serve as a built in survey about what people wanted and how.

Furthermore, it would educate people, not only about where there money went, but possibly about how they should use the theater. That it costs money to pay for a free plastic cup of coke, and for the theater to be cleaned and for the extra napkins that they used, and that cleaning up their own mess would save everyone money. (IKEA uses this explanation strategy a lot in explaining their strategies for keeping costs down. i.e. when they ask you to bus your own trays in their cafeteria)

The reason this has probably never been done before is that it was simply too hard to explain all the costs. And back in the old days of a store front there were probably fewer costs. But this is an age of fantastic technological ability. And our consumption patterns should be able to reflect the complexity of the production patterns that provide our goods and services.

This is something that would make the world start making more sense and money seem more valuable. People have complex decisions to make with so much choice and so many things going on to get them their products. And as a society we have the capability to communicate more to decisionmaking consumers. so we should.

It's a lot like a ballot. If ballot's reported facts totally transparently then it would be impossible for political candidates to hide behind the manipulation of their campaigns (or for companies to hide behind potentially unethical business practices - like marking up popcorn 90%). [Of course this also brings up the issue that "transparent" sales is just another system to game]. But like polls there would be a built in system of collecting more meaningful data that would say more important things about what people are like and how to best serve them.

And as a final thought, returning to the point that I would probably pay more to theaters I wanted to stay in business, there would be room in this system for increased (or decreased) commission based on service quality. Theater owners could encourage or discourage variable amounts of payment based on how much they liked a movie or didn't like it to give them feedback on how to serve and what to screen.

Just a (world changing) thought....


Post a Comment

<< Home