Remember not so long ago when MSN Encarta was so often bundled in with other software and hardware purchases (think tax software in the U.S.)? There was a time when getting MSN Encarta for free was a big perk. Today, not so much.
According to a report by HitWise, MSN Encarta websites get less than 2% of all online encyclopedia searches while Wikipedia gets 97% (Encyclopedia.com gets the rest). Not even Microsoft can compete with Wikipedia.
It’s interesting to me that Wikipedia, which is so often criticized for inaccuracies, bias, and so on, can be so dominant. Even Google has tried to compete with Google Knol, but alas, Wikipedia remains strong. Can you think of another brand that retains so much power despite its highly publicized faults? One could argue that U.S. auto manufacturers would be an example, but recent events in that industry show sub-par performance will only get your brand so far.
So the question is this — will a competitor to Wikipedia arise that provides completely accurate information for free? The only differentiator that might make a difference in the online encyclopedia market at this point would be accuracy (and search engine optimization – which Wikipedia dominates). However, even Encyclopedia Britannica has offered free subscriptions to its website, but that brand has brought little competition to Wikipedia. Can another brand beat Wikipedia?
I have to imagine that a time will come when consumers will demand more from Wikipedia, just as consumers are finally demanding more from auto manufacturers. “Good enough” won’t be acceptable forever. Or will it?
Is your brand just “good enough”? If so, make it better – exceed customer expectations, don’t just meet them.
Are there aspects of your competitors’ brands that are just “good enough”? If so, attack them head on and differentiate your brand. Those consumers might not realize yet that they’re settling for “good enough”.
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