As an anime customer, there are a number of things that I, and many others have come to expect when purchasing products. It’s doubtful that anyone can say that customers don’t expect decent translations, clean video, or sturdy packaging in today’s market. Likewise, it’s hard to say that customers expect to pay $80 for two episodes in the American market. These are the norm, the status quo that many see as the bare minimum for a cash commitment.

People don’t talk about the status quo. They’ll gripe when these elements are missing, but they certainly won’t praise a business for sticking to these criteria. Instead, it’s when a business goes above and beyond the base that people begin talking.

To illustrate this point, we’ll take a look at two products, both of which hit stores at the same price point.

The first product is Revolutionary Girl Utena Set 1. This box consists of the first twelve episodes of the show, spread across three discs. The set is packaged in a classy chipboard art-box, and is bundled with a decently thick book of supplementary material. Extras on the set include a collection of television spots, textless version of the opening and closing, and the original music video for the show’s main theme, Rinbu Revolution.

The second product is Oh! Edo Rocket, Season 1 Part 1.The series shipped in a single DVD case that contained two discs. The show featured the textless opener and closing as extra features.

Now, for tonight’s question: All else held constant, which package would you tell more people about?

There’s little doubt that over 90% of the market would rave about the first set. And, frankly, the further a product goes in terms of presentation and extras, the more remarkable the it becomes, and the more willing people become to recommend it. As the product gains more remarks, it begins to be seen as more of a deal, which spurs more and more people to buy.

This stems from simple human nature. Humans, are beings that thrive themselves on being savvy shoppers. To bring up an anecdote from my days at the Target Electronics counter, I would often see people agonize over whether or not to buy a particular camera. While we were pretty much forbidden to outright tell people that a product would go on sale in the next week, I often dropped hints at such, if the person seemed to be doubting a purchase. Even if the savings only amounted to five dollars, more than ninety percent of these people would, right as rain, line up on Sunday morning with their cash in hand. They were usually extra-pleased and raved about how “great” of a deal they were getting.

This may not have always been a good deal by normal standards – these customers often saved only 5% on average. However, it helped in many ways to shape the story that people belived. By knocking that five or ten bucks off the top, or by tossing in a memory card, peoples’ stories changed to “this is nice but may be too much,” to “this was a fantastic deal! I’m blown away at how great it was!”

The same logic applies in the anime market. A show is a show is a show. However, once we begin adding in things that supplement, the story of the product begins to change, and it becomes “special” or a “bargain.”