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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 21, 2005 / 19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

Comfort and Competition

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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My clientele prefers familiarity over innovation


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. My qualifications and service are significantly beyond those of my competitors. Yet in my conservative community, much of my potential clientele is stubbornly loyal to their regular establishments. How can I convince them that my competition will improve quality for everyone?


A. Competition is certainly a wonderful spur to merchants to constantly improve their service and prices. While we do find that our Sages were occasionally suspicious of the competitive mindset and its potential for motivating exploitative behavior, on the whole we find that our tradition is receptive to the benefits of competition. For example, Rebbe Yehuda states in the Mishnah that a merchant should not offer inducements, such as sweets for the children; yet the Sages permit this, and we rule in accordance with their view. Their rationale: inducements don't provide an unfair advantage. On the contrary, "just as I give out nuts, you can give out prunes". The very essence of competition is that it doesn't give any arbitrary advantage to one seller but rather enables all to attract the customer with the best service.


Rebbe Yehuda furthermore opposes undercutting the market price; yet the Sages again prevail with the view that such a merchant is "remembered for good". (1)


However, competition can only encourage merchants to meet customer needs; it can never define those needs. From a marketing point of view, a demand for familiarity and stability, like the one you find widespread in your very conservative community, is exactly as valid as a demand for innovation and professionalism, in which you personally excel. One of the tenets of marketing is that the object of the merchant is to identify and meet customer needs. Of course sometimes the marketer does need to invest in educating the customer about the unique way in which his or her product does meet the buying public's deeper needs, but ultimately the customer is king, even if his or her taste doesn't conform with the more informed sensibility of the more innovative providers.


In trying to persuade potential customers, you should accommodate rather than bewail their penchant for loyalty. Someday, when you are more established, you will probably be grateful for this trait! Of course you will want to emphasize your superior ability, but perhaps you should focus on new services your competitors don't provide, rather than on existing services that you may excel at, but which place you in direct competition with others. Try and cultivate an image of someone who belongs and fits in to the community, so that "tribal loyalty" will work for you rather than against you. Remember that closely-knit communities rely heavily on word of mouth reputation (what professionals call "buzz"); work to cultivate a positive reputation for professional service combined with respect for community norms.


It's easy for a cordon bleu chef to bemoan his customers declasse tastes, but ultimately the market rewards merchants who give customers what they do want, not what they should want. The customer can be educated, but above all needs to be respected.


SOURCES: (1) Bava Metzia 60a


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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


Previously:

Do I need the caller's permission to put a call on the speakerphone?
Overtime for lost time
Is it unethical to play suppliers against each other to get the lowest bid possible?
Do family members have precedence in charity allotments?
What the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal
Are religious leaders subject to criticism?
Vindictive Vendor: How can I punish an abusive competitor?
Blogging Ethics: Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?







© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics