Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Popular Doesn’t Mean Good

Whenever we shop on Amazon, check out restaurants, or look for films on Netflix we automatically gravitate towards what’s popular.

But does McDonald’s really make the best burgers because it sells over 2 billion burgers a year? Do 45 million viewings of Netflix’s Bird Box mean it’s a better movie than Uncut Gems? And is E. L James a better author than Neil Gaiman because her book is one of Amazon’s top-selling books of all time?

Obviously not.

While both clearly play a role, quality and skill don’t always lead to popularity.

Even when two products serve the exact same function, quality isn’t the deciding factor.  

For instance, when two bakeries with roughly identical bread and pastries compete for customers, location often trumps all.

Do you serve delicious croissants in the suburbs? Sucks to be you. People aren’t likely to drive to the other side of town if they can get decent croissants in the city centre. Even if it means paying a little extra.

Convenience matters.

And so do a host of other things: familiarity, pricing, authority, sustainability, novelty—and the most important factor of all—luck.

For all the hundreds of incredible ideas that make it to the top, thousands get lost in the cracks.

Napster fizzled. AltaVista failed. MySpace flopped. Webvan folded. 

All these incredible businesses didn’t make it, even though we valued them. After all, we use similar services today in the forms of Spotify, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

So popular doesn’t necessarily mean good. Much of it is luck.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach