Thursday, February 24, 2005

Consumers increasingly rejecting bundled purchases

Fast Company has an interesting article today on the growing trend of consumers to reject bundled offers from companies (that is, where many different products or services are offered for a single price) and to instead pick and choose the individual things they want, in the 'a la carte' style. One of the points the article makes is that it's becoming rapidly easier for consumers to purchase things online that cost only a tiny bit of money - think of 99-cent songs at Apple's website, for a good example.

This taps into the theory of 'micropayments' that's been discussed among underground artists for several years now, first proposed by cartoonist Scott McCloud - that is, instead of a daily cartoonist selling her work to a newspaper, which then charges readers 50 cents a day to read it, the cartoonist instead sell the cartoons directly to her readers via the internet, for five cents a day or whatever. It's an intriguing idea, but has always been hampered by a simple fact - that with the money credit-card companies charge to verify an individual transaction, artists end up losing almost a dollar in operational costs every time they gain five cents in micropayment revenue. Now that micropayments are starting to catch on in other, more mainstream industries, and credit-card verifiers are lowering their per-transaction fees, perhaps it's time for underground artists to revisit this concept.