Monday, June 30, 2008


I promise I'll return to teh subject of 'fake charity' but for now I'd like to write about competition.

Suppose there was a chain of coffee shops that catered to the upscale caffeinated beverage drinker. Let's call it "Tasty Elegant Coffee". Initially it was extremely successful, opening up coffee boutiques in every state, with multiple shoppes in major metropolitan areas. As is common with franchises, it sold territorial licenses to various entrepreneurs, promising them exclusivity as to territory. As part of the franchise agreement, the owners were required to purchase supplies from company headquarters.

Over time, the corporate management at Tasty Elegant Coffee grew worried that their customer base was demographically unbalanced. Their customers were older, whiter and wealthier than America as a whole, so they commissioned some market surveys as to what Americans said they wanted in coffee. Corporate management found out that most of their potential customer base preferred a weaker, less bitter flavour of coffee, more lukewarm and less scalding than what had been previously offered. They were also put off by the simple elegance of the Tasty Elegant Boutiques and the time required by the personal service offered at the shoppes. Price was also considered to be an issue.

Directives fluttered down from headquarters. The coffee blend was altered from all arabica to a robusta and arabica mix. It was given a vanilla flavour. The coffee was made weaker, held for longer and was kept cooler. Many boutiques had their furniture removed. No longer were patrons encouraged to sit and read. Incandescent lights were replaced by fluorescents. The air conditioning was eliminated.

Some franchisees sold their franchises. Others introduced elements from other franchise chains, adding menu item,s such as slushies and hot dogs. Still others struck out on their own, offering their interpretation of what a coffee shoppe ought to be.

Recently the headquarters, refusing to see that the customer base was still continuing to leave, has taken to suing its franchisees who have rebranded but remained where the old shoppes were.

Even more recently, some franchisees have hooked up with some international coffee shoppe owners and formed a new coffee shop chain, Classic Coffee and Pastries. They promise to use all arabica beans, keep the coffee fresh and full strength.

Tasty Elegant Coffee has reacted by decrying Classic Coffee and Pastries' actions as parasitic, asserting that there is only room in the North American market for one coffee chain and that even if they are not serving coffee any more, strictly speaking, nonetheless coffee remains as part of the name of each shoppe and therefore its prior territorial claim must be respected.

Two large global chains, Roy's Coffee Club and The Other Coffee have expressed some interest in cross training with the new entity.

That's where the story ends for now. I do not know about anyone else, but people get really silly about business matters and territoriality. Fair play and equity seem to go right out the window.

{Here is what germinated the little story above}


The Anglican Scotist said...

That's actually quite good.

And it will likely appeal to the materialistic sensibilities of epicurean christianists, for whom the idea that faith can be modelled on usurious trade is coherent.

A more Scriptural model for the church and its varied activity? Marriage. If a married woman found another woman had begun to cohabit with her and her husband and demanded to share their bed, she would be rightfully upset: lo, even if her husband invited her.

Matthew said...

Well, all analogies break down sooner or later.

However, the marriage analogy only holds up if you think one denomination is all there is when it comes to the One True Church. And arguably even if you do think that, the denomination I have in mind has been thinking about committing adultery.

Mike Bertaut said...


I have made the argument all along that TEC's move to the left was a failed marketing plan, and been rebuffed by everyone in sight.

I still hold that it is exactly that, despite the true believers on the left who decry the theory, and that all has been sacrificed to the notion of "full pews".

Of course, once you take an ideological bent to marketing, going back means alienating all your overnight allies, and that will be the next phase.

Such a sad abuse of God's word and church...