ggm 7 days ago



that Amazing Neutrogena conditioner, which was really good and lasted a year? Gone: if it lasts a year, its too good.

that original low-sugar chex? gone. we invented three new flavours.

that jam? gone. butter? gone. that cut of meat? gone. those pens? I mean pentel pens. How can pentel can an entire line of really good, fine writer ballpens? Gone. Sorry dude, it was you and your partner, thats IT. we checked inventory, we were shipping the last box to your category killer store two years before we canned it. It was you and some wierd hobo in Chiba were the last ones buying.

Wilkinson Sword made 30cl shaving foam cans, mostly supplied to the airline business for Business class passengers. Gone. That was the good stuff. I have to scrabble around for a Nivea gel in the same form factor, its hard to find.

My partner and I feel like the harbinger of doom for products a lot, we have dreamed of renting ourselves out to the highest bidder, to go and buy competitor product. We even called ourselves this before I read the term. We joked about being the kiss of death in shops, and then it became un-funny to the point we're scared to tell shopkeepers how much we like products sometimes.

(for the ones we want, we'd buy a LOT. That neutrogena shampoo is $40 a bottle now in the ebay hoarder bins. Neutrogena triple moisture daily deep conditioner. It used to be like $7. I have two bottles coming via a reseller, thats another year before we have to find a different conditioner.)

Grape Nuts. They're next. Trust me, Post is going to be reading the interwebs and my supplies of Grape Nuts will dry up.

Wierdly, we are high income, we are not buying dead real estate and out voting useless candidates (Green, Labor, our candidates do very well). So I think the article has over-compensated somehow.

Maybe we're up market Harbingers of Doom. Bespoke. Artisanal.

  • hinkley 5 days ago

    Shoes are this way for a lot of people, in that some of us can keep a pair of shoes long enough that the next fashion cycle has happened and you can't find anything like that again.

    I got to the point where if I really liked a pair of shoes, I'd buy a second pair and throw them in the closet for nine months, and cross my fingers that I like the shoes in the second refresh more than I liked the ones in the first one.

    And lets talk about ya'll motherfuckers wearing jeans that make your eyes pop out. Stores I used to shop at, some of them don't even have regular jeans anymore. I was the first person off the tight jeans bandwagon the last time that went around, and I'm not jumping on this one, even if that means I have to shop at thrift stores until you all wake up on your own, or until your doctor tells you to stop wearing those if you want kids.

    • tempestn 5 days ago

      The shoes thing is so true. Especially runners, or any kind of athletic shoe really, where they feel the need to update not just the styling but the whole construction of the shoes every year. So when you need a replacement you basically have to start from scratch every time, because there's no guarantee even buying the new shoe in the same line will be a remotely similar experience.

      • bostik 5 days ago

        Clarks had an absolute killer product on their hands around 2007 or so.

        Full leather sports sandals, with strong but easy-to-operate magnetic clasp, and no seams on inner surfaces. Joy to wear. Practically immune to chafing and blisters. Exceptionally good for walking (or cycling!) for even long periods of time.

        Discontinued since ~2009 or so. While they've brought back some of their other pretty good sandals, the perfection reached more than 15 years ago is nowhere to be seen.

        • ishjoh 4 days ago

          Do you have a picture of them?

          • bostik 4 days ago

            I found an image of what looks like a modern variant of the same old model:

            The difference between the old ones that those pictured above are that the old ones were (I think this is the right word) almost suede leather. Really easy on skin. And the sandals in the image show seams on the inside, whereas the ones I had two pairs of had their seams on the insides of the strap structure. But on the bright side, the magnetic clasp looks familiar; the new clasp is bulkier and can't be easily opened with a toe from your other foot.

            And no, it's not these either: - but they do demonstrate how to construct sandals with the seams off of skin contact, so this might give you an idea what the things looked like.

            So no, sadly I can only provide reasonable excuses.

        • NullPrefix 4 days ago

          They just don't make them like they used to anymore

      • c0nsumer 5 days ago

        Came here to say this about cycling shoes. That is, the specific kinds with cleat mounting points at the bottom so you can clip in.

        These shoes are particularly durable and will last through absurd amounts of use and sweat and rain and mud with just some sink-washing, but eventually break down and need replacing. For me it's about every 4-5 years with them getting worn most days of spring/summer/fall.

        Shopping for these shoes is a huge hassle because, outside of large cities / cycling destinations, most shops only carry a single brand and model, making them pretty much mail order only. A shoe that fits fine can feel problematic after a couple hours, so it takes a bunch of trial and error (and often purchasing multiple pairs and selling the others off as barely-used) to find what works.

        Last time I had to replace my shoes I went and bought the same brand, same model, same size. But they didn't fit right. Turns out the new version was 5mm narrower at the ball of the foot, which was enough to make my left foot hurt after an hour of wearing them.

        So, I had to go shop around for something that fit better, try them, then be sure they worked right. I went through three pair before finding something that works, but I'm loathing when it comes time to replace them again. The coloring on them was recently changed and while I don't really like it (it's now a silver toe on black shoe, previous was all black), I guess it'll be fine so long as the fit matches?

        I'm wishing I'd bought a second pair, but that too bothers me knowing they'll sit on the shelf for years taking up space before getting used. And who knows, maybe some new buckle/latch/whatever will come out in the mean time that'll make switching brand worthwhile?

        • epitrochoidal 4 days ago

          Shopping for cycling shoes sucks. I've had the very same experiences, from the poor selection in stores to the differences between instances of the same shoe model from different years. Last time, I got a second pair and told myself it was ok because now I can rotate shoes and let them dry between daily rides like I do with helmets.

      • iasay 5 days ago

        This pisses me off. Nike I am looking at you. The Downshifter 9's were perfect. Everything else since is garbage or looks like I've got a pumpkin on an acid trip stuck to my feet.

      • zelos 5 days ago

        I've just been through this with running shoes. I found some Asics that were light, comfortable and just firm enough. Now they're gone, split into multiple different variants, none of which is what I want.

      • brtkdotse 5 days ago

        I have really finicky feet and cried tears of joy when I found ASICS GT-4000 only to cry tears of sorrow when I wanted to buy a new pair and found out they only made one run of them.

        • moffkalast 5 days ago

          Oh wow never thought I'd see anyone else complain about this, I'm in the same boat but with the GT-1000. I bought a pair of the new Kayanos recently and they're so bad I had to stop wearing them because they're literally destroying my feet.

          • CobaltFire 4 days ago

            They ditched the center reinforcement for a straight foam plate. The center reinforcement that was their entire reason for being popular for 25 years.

            I’m very unhappy.

        • dspillett 5 days ago

          I used to run in Brooks Adrenaline, then they seemed to change and not work so well for me. So I tried Asics GT 2000 (also a short shoe) and found them better until they stiffened them up in one revision so I moved to GT 1000 though I'm thinking of trying other things as recent models seem to lose all cushioning sooner. When I first got into trail running I used ASICS models but they started either upsetting my heal or falling apart in the upper, so my main trail pairs are Hoka (along with a hybrid I'm experimenting with).

          The struggle is real.

          While part of it might be that my body and running style have changed slightly over time, most of it is that shoes change regularly. I experienced a first recently thought: my feet actually significantly prefer the newer SpeedGoat design to the previous revision (though I fear the heal design might encourage more little stones & bits into the shoe, it is more comfortable for me). Just watch them revert those changes, so in future when I need to replace this design will be hard or impossible to find at a good price...

        • samuell 5 days ago

          I've given up on Asics after I found Mizuno Wave Rider GTX (on a sale). Goodbye heel chafing, loosening sole, and many other problems. Haven't used a more comfortable shoe than this, and works great with excellent cushioning on both asphalt and trails. Can't believe this brand isn't more popular than it is.

      • rubyfan 2 days ago

        So true! New Balance Vibrims from ~2014 I think they were called minimus. They were super thin soles for running and were useful for lifting too (crossfit). They event came in double extra wide. Nothing like it exists on the market today. All the new models are nothing like it :-(

      • dmd 4 days ago

        In my case the shoes I liked were completely redesigned - new materials, new style ... and not only marketed under the same name but THE SAME SKU NUMBER.

        Are those a scarce resource or something?

        • jtbayly 4 days ago

          The old ones were quality and have rave reviews. Of course they put the new ones that are just cheap crap on the same SKU.

          • dmd 4 days ago

            The weird thing though is it wasn't even "cheap crap". They were fine, quality shoes -- just completely different.

      • agentwiggles 4 days ago

        I had a glorious pair of Brooks running shoes in a really cool pattern that no longer exists. I would have bought those shoes every year or two for the rest of my life if I could.

      • giantg2 4 days ago

        I share the same sentiment. With all the replies you're getting, it seems like there could be a market for a solution. Not sure what that would be. Maybe a shoe finder app similar to ammoseek? Maybe a crowdsourced database of which current shoe model is rhe closest replacement to an outgoing one (like a dependency tree but for next closest shoe)?

        • 83 4 days ago

          I always wanted to create a social app for shoes and call it Sole Mate. Put in your specs and rank your own shoes and then find other people who have a similar fit to you and see what they liked.

          • bombcar 4 days ago

            Sounds like it could be an amazing feature for Zappos - "you picked this shoe at this size and didn't return it, here's what others who did that also bought".

          • interestica 4 days ago

            Ive seen Dr scholls in-store kiosks that do a mapping of feet to (i think) create custom insoles. It would be cool to have a digital file of not just a 3D impression of your feet, but also some data related to pressure distribution related to gait that could (in theory) find an optimal shoe (not objectively optimal -- but aligned with others that have similar characteristics).

            And presumably as your weight changes you would need new models.

            Heck I'm surprised there aren't more "smart shoes" that track weight changes and mobility.

        • fivefifty 4 days ago

          Not exactly what you are describing but there are some sites like that are basically a database of running shoes that let you compare stats and check aggregated reviews on whether they fit true to size etc along with reviews for some of them. Before I found that site it's was basically a crap shoot to figure out the subtle differences between seemingly 50 different models of slightly different shoe from each manufacturer but that site really helps me narrow it down and find similar shoes to stuff I already like.

      • tomc1985 4 days ago

        I feel like that's true for most of the consumer, but if you look around the shoe company might have some classics that are seemingly eternal. For example: Adidas Gazelles vs Adidas Sambas. Chuck Taylors might be another one.

      • guywhocodes 5 days ago

        I have this issue, I doesn't help I live in a city state with basically one distributor so if they decide my shoe is not cool enough anymore I have to pay double for private import.

      • macrolime 5 days ago

        My running shoes are Nike Airs from 1999. I have a couple pairs and they've held up surprisingly well.

      • CobaltFire 4 days ago

        ASICS Gel Kayano.

        They completely changed the shoe this last year.

        I’ve adjusted but… it’s not the same shoe anymore.

    • etrautmann 5 days ago

      Hmm? skinny jeans started again in 2000s, had a run for ~20 years, and have rapidly decreased in popularity already. In NYC, everyone is wearing 90's styles again, including flares and parachute capris, but none of those will prevent you from having children.

      • greesil 5 days ago

        If the jeans are too tight though... I saw bell bottoms the other day, and my first thought was eff it I'm just going to start wearing a top hat it'll be cool in a few years.

      • mcv 4 days ago

        Are flares finally getting back again? This time around I'm going to buy a couple of dozen of them, because it's incredibly frustrating that they keep disappearing.

    • newaccount74 5 days ago

      If you buy stuff that's in fashion, you'll always have this problem, because fashion changes so quickly.

      If you just buy classic old-fashioned stuff, then you won't have this problem. I have a pair of old-fashioned leather boots, and when they were worn out after 5 years or so, I just bought exactly the same boots again. Those type of boots have been available for decades, and I really doubt they'll stop making them anytime soon.

      For jeans, I've been wearing plain Levis 501 for years, and when they break I just buy another pair. They might be making slight changes, but for the most part it's the same pair of jeans and it's always available in plain styles.

      Same for the plain T-shirts I wear. Sure, colors change a bit every year, but I won't have trouble finding a replacement a few years.

      • mcv 4 days ago

        If you follow fashion, you don't have this problem, because the new fashionable thing will always be available.

        This problem only exists for people who buck fashion trends in areas (like clothes) that are highly subject to fashion. I just want to keep buying the same type of clothes, but they keep going in and out of fashion without me having any say in it.

        For jeans, for example, I would love to be able to buy black 527s. That shouldn't be too much to ask, should it? But they don't exist, because they're flares, which are currently out of fashion for men, so tough luck.

        But even for the most reliably unchanging style of boots I have bad luck: army boots. Used to wear them all the time. Always great fit, comfortable under all circumstances. Bought a new pair a few years ago, and suddenly they suck. I'm forced to wear sneakers these days. I haven't really find a nice model yet.

      • prepend 4 days ago

        > If you just buy classic old-fashioned stuff, then you won't have this problem.

        I used old spice anti-perspiring deodorant for like 20 years. It had never changed. It was like $1-2 and I liked it fine.

        One day they started advertising and added like 20 new flavors and had super handsome spokesmodels. I couldn’t find my boring old flavor any more.

        So even old and boring things can get the ax

        • tait 4 days ago

          > "can get the ax"

          We see what you did there.

      • zcw100 3 days ago

        The thing is "classic old-fashioned" isn't something that is somehow timeless and is somehow outside of fashion trends. It's right in the name. It was fashionable but now it's old, old-fashioned. You can throw the "classic" in there all you want. The truth is all clothes come from some particular fashion. Some trends tend to change slower than others and that's what people seem to refer to when they say "classic" but it will change.

        Wearing jeans at all is a trend. People have been wearing something other than jeans for far longer than they've been wearing them.

    • waylandsmithers 4 days ago

      My observation is that this is just how fashion works, especially for women. Trends come on extremely strong for basically anything related to appearance all the way down to nail color. And it's designed that way to make it obvious when someone has last year's styles and hasn't spent the money and energy on keeping up.

      My experience as a man on the other hand... I bought a tuxedo recently, and the tailor said Ok here's this one, it has these weird lapels that are in right now, and it'll be great if you're going on the red carpet tomorrow but will be out of fashion pretty soon, otherwise here is the standard tux that will always look good, and come back and buy a vest or cummerbund if they ever come back in style and you'll still look great.

    • dotancohen 5 days ago

        > Shoes are this way for a lot of people, in that some of us can keep a
        > pair of shoes long enough that the next fashion cycle has happened and
        > you can't find anything like that again.
      Timberland has terrific office-looking-from-the-top shoes, rugged gravel-traversing-and-non-slippery-from-the-bottom shoes circa 2016 when I bought a pair. What I wouldn't do to find another pair of shoes like this now.
      • BoxOfRain 5 days ago

        I went into surgery a couple of months ago and it was such a hurry my Timberlands disappeared into the hospital along with my appendix. It'd be pretty churlish to hold a grudge over this given they literally saved my life but I do miss those shoes!

        • brewdad 4 days ago

          You should send the hospital a bill. $5000 for a pair of shoes, discounted down 95% to $250 so it seems reasonable.

          • BoxOfRain 4 days ago

            Fortunately this was in the UK, while I am privately covered because the poor old NHS is too under-resourced at the moment to be much good for treating chronic diseases that won't kill you they're still second to none for emergency surgery. Efficiently in and out, doctors couldn't have been friendlier or more competent, and it didn't cost me a penny.

            • dotancohen 4 days ago

              Did you go back and thank them?

              And take a gander at the shoes they're wearing? ))

    • oasisbob 5 days ago

      Shoes are frustrating.

      Sanuk is a west-coast US sandals brand which had been around for decades and used to make some of the best most-comfortable flip flops. These are not the sandals that fall apart in the middle of a vacation or give you blisters.

      In the last few years they lost their soul and started using "yoga mat" -- an open-cell foam -- for most their sandals.

      I spent over an hour on the phone trying to explain to them why sandals which get wet and STAY WET all day were such a problem. Born in surf culture, and honestly couldn't care less.

    • jacquesm 5 days ago

      I have shoes for a lifetime bought ahead, and if I die early there will be a glut of size 42 shoes on the dutch market of this brand and type and that in turn will immediately cause that market to collapse :)

      • LorenPechtel 4 days ago

        I know how you feel--I've got a decade's worth of shoes around here. I wear a 13EEEE running shoe (and I'm not a runner, I just need the shape), more likely than not a shoe store will have nothing that fits. Thus when I find something good I stock up.

        At least for the trails I can so far reliably get shoes that fit, although even there there's none to be had in town, they have to be ordered.

      • personjerry 4 days ago

        Won't they degrade over time sitting in your closet?

        • jacquesm 4 days ago

          That's a good question and I should look into that but so far they come out like new and I've been doing this for more than a decade now.

          • Delk 4 days ago

            I've understood that it's better e.g. for the soles of hiking boots if the boots are used somewhat regularly. Polyurethane degrades due to hydrolysis, and apparently using the shoes regularly (and letting them air and dry properly afterwards) reduces that. The movement and pressure help reduce moisture absorbed into the sole, or something.

            It probably depends on the material of the sole, though.

            • scruple 4 days ago

              I'm currently cycling through 4 pairs of Hoka Rincons. They're stored in their original boxes and placed in a stack on my garage floor. I grab the top box and replace it to the bottom when I'm done for the day. I actually think this is fairly ridiculous but what can you do...

            • yencabulator 2 days ago

              I've had this happen to boots that were stored for a few years. The soles split in the middle, not at a glue layer. It was like ripping foam apart.

          • LanceH 4 days ago

            Around 10 years out the glue will fail, seemingly all at once. I have boots 20+ years old which are still great (stitched and nailed), but all the old shoes just fall apart wherever they were glued (the sole usually). You can try to reglue, but it can be hard to get it smooth and walking on a lump ruins it.

            • jacquesm 4 days ago

              Well, so far so good, and yes, I'm still below the 10 year mark.

    • rootusrootus 5 days ago

      I've been buying normal fit jeans from Costco for all of $16 a pair for the last two decades. Dad jeans, I suppose. No care! Love the jeans, they're built a lot better than my last pair of brand name jeans.

    • siva7 4 days ago

      tight jeans are out of fashion since at least 2 years...

      • novok 4 days ago

        suspiciously around the time period of covid lol

    • nottorp 5 days ago

      > Shoes are this way for a lot of people, in that some of us can keep a pair of shoes long enough that the next fashion cycle has happened and you can't find anything like that again.

      Try working from home. It's guaranteed that by the time you need new shoes nothing resembling your current shoes that you know and love is available any more.

      Same for a lot of other clothing items that you only wear outside.

      • bitexploder 4 days ago

        Leather work boots hardly change. I have some Red Wings that are close to an 80 year design or something.

        • nonamenoslogan 4 days ago

          This is where I'm at after years of trying various designs. I went back to shoes I loved in the 90's; Doc Martin 1461 3-eyelet loafers. Classic design, easy to find, and I haven't worn anything since to work in more than a decade now.

      • thimkerbell 4 days ago

        Can shoes or sandals be 3d printed from the original specifications?

    • kashunstva 4 days ago

      This, and it’s not just an issue of style and superficial characteristics. With running shoes, I have a very specific preference related to the size and shape of my feet. But it’s a crapshoot whether any newly-renamed and refreshed product is in any way similar to what I bought six months ago. It’s a freaking shoe, just keep tue same name at least.

    • wrthfl 5 days ago

      This is me with the Adidas samba from 15 years ago. I'm still scowering ebay for a pair since my current one is slowly falling apart.

    • grapeskin 5 days ago

      I’ve been waiting 18 years for the pre-ripped jeans meme to die. It was ridiculed when I was in middle school, and now as a 30-something boomer, I’m still struggling to find decent looking and fitting jeans that don’t have some stupid tear designed into them.

      • onpensionsterm 5 days ago

        You're rarely going to find good basics in cheap shops because they have to differentiate on 'design'. The same goes for t-shirts, if you want a plain t-shirt you first have to avoid anywhere with surplus graphics, pockets, buttons, whatever.

        If you look further you can find high-quality denim and t-shirts in a variety of cuts. Even bespoke. But they differentiate on quality and things that matter to enthusiasts, so a brain poisoned by mass-produced fast-fashion will wince.

        • faebi 5 days ago

          How did you find these brands? I still struggle to find any of them. I'm at the point where I would even try an online tailor if there was a good one with a decent color variety.

          • HeyLaughingBoy 4 days ago

            I used to joke that we bought all our clothes at Fleet Farm and Tractor Supply, but the reality is that both places (Fleet Farm has a greater variety by far) have basic, reasonably-priced T-Shirts and jeans that stand up to hard work every day.

            Take a look at Duluth Trading Co. for a similar trend, if a bit more upmarket.

          • astrange 4 days ago

            It's pretty easy to find jeans - go to Uniqlo.

      • ngc248 4 days ago

        yep .... they have these ridiculous designs or shapes. Particularly the slim fit tapered jeans. searching for the classic regular fit jeans is almost impossible.

    • xyzzy123 5 days ago

      yeah you're right but there is no supply chain for civilian clothes, you're supposed to like, just put on whatever crap you find at the mall.

  • abraae 5 days ago

    Is it possible that you are "laggards" as described in the seminal book "Chrossing the Chasm"?

    Laggards: Laggards are consumers who avoid change and do not adopt new technologies until all traditional alternatives are no longer available. The group is mostly concerned with reliability, low cost, and easy to use.

    As I remember the premise, vendors squeeze profit out of the earlier adopters, in particular the early majority and the late majority. By the time the laggards are buying, the vendor has lost interest in the product and all of the profit has already been extracted. Therefore they don't give a shit about you and are likely to discontinue the product or provide terrible support.

    • doodlebugging 4 days ago

      This is me. A laggard. I stand now on the precipice of obsolescence, clutching my Windows phone prepared to hurl it into the gaping chasm with my Zip drives, my Handspring PDAs, my Palm devices, my old Blackberry, and dozens of other products that I grew to love during their short time on the market.

      I need a Laggard t-shirt.

    • moffkalast 5 days ago

      > reliability, low cost, and easy to use

      Sounds about right. These days it's all about things lasting about 2 minutes so they're cheap to manufacture, as pricey as possible to seem designer or premium, and hardly any time spent on making good UX at all.

      • moomoo11 5 days ago

        > good ux

        Worse is when some UX designers decide to improve a product that works well as it is only to make it worse and convoluted. This has been my experience more often than not, and my solution is to simply stop using such products. It sucks.

        • twistedpair 4 days ago

          Change for the sake of change.

          I'm often a power user. I know all the features and shortcuts of the tools I use. All too often, these get removed. I recall being on a feedback call with a UX study, and complaining about a feature I use, and many friend use, that was recently deleted from the product. "Oh, no one uses that" was the response from the UX/PM.

  • ls15 5 days ago

    > that Amazing Neutrogena conditioner, which was really good and lasted a year? Gone: if it lasts a year, its too good.

    Skin care companies are the worst. After ages of comparing products and finally finding the right one, they just "improve" the formulas to the point that the product just does not work anymore for us. Even the expensive ones like Vichy. I started to look more seriously into home-made cosmetics because of reproducibility, but haven't found the right formula yet unfortunately.

    However, I try to use primary products (for example pure hyaluronic acid instead of a product that contains HA) as much as possible, because I feel this lowers the risk to run out of that product,

    • janekm 5 days ago

      You might find "the Ordinary" brand from Deciem appealing (or Niod for more exotic ingredients), simple products with ingredient concentration specified.

    • jsiaajdsdaa 5 days ago

      Hmm, very interesting. I was briefly working on an application for a beauty care RnD lab. I was kind of surprised that most of the products (whether expensive or not) had random mixes of small amounts of exotic organic molecules, and the rest of it was just filler.

      I don't remember any of the names or percentages ("they're all just rows in a database to me"), but perhaps I should have paid attention a bit more closely. I am assuming that all of these substances are available for public purchase, and the people behind the RnD lab weren't eminently qualified in their field.

      Good luck to you!

  • NikolaNovak 5 days ago

    I have always felt like a negative focus group.

    While finding person or team that will consistently pick winners is basically impossible due to viral nature of big wins, I consistently pick losers . I assume it's because I consistently use criteria which differ radically from average consumer. I'll go into detailed list of pros and cons while my cousins will simply say "I like it" or "it's cool".

    I thought Penny arcade had a strip or blog about it but I could never find it...

  • cryptica 5 days ago

    Same here. I like to think that it's because I have good taste and know how to find value for money. But I guess this may be why those products ultimately fail commercially; they're providing too much value for their low price; they can't stay competitive in a monetary system characterized by infinite inflation where there is intense pressure to keep prices down and consumers are forced to buy inferior products (the ones which they can afford) due to their lagging or stagnant wages. Consumer product companies which are not willing to keep degrading the quality of their products over time will inevitably become unprofitable. Unfortunately, charging consumers more is often not an option for them because there simply aren't enough high end premium consumers to make up for their loss of regular consumers... The masses of regular consumers just don't have the money anymore. The elite keep getting richer but they are shrinking in numbers. This shrinking pool of increasingly wealthy individuals is not interested in consumer-grade high quality products; they go straight for the absolute top of the range luxury products and although they spend many times more on a per-product basis, in aggregate, they spend much less than regular consumers would have as a group. Our monetary system systematically erodes total economic value by rewarding unproductive, rent-seeking members of society at the expense of productive members.

    • catchclose8919 4 days ago

      Not sure why you're downvoted, but I'm 100% like you.

      Tbh, lots of non-overpriced products that I really like tend to disappear or be hard to find, so I just learned to settle for (a) a healthy enough cheap enough alternative that is never close to being as enjoyable but "whatever, it works", or (b) an X times more expensive quasi-luxury-class equivalent that has similar qualities and is from a common enough quasi-luxury-class producer with big market presence.

      But there's a second avenue of though to explore: some people care for the qualities of the product itself, and some might argue that these kinds of people (we?) are a minority, most follow trends, either marketing phabricated or grass-roots word-of-mouth trends, so if a good quality products fails to be trendy, it will have horrible economical performance at least compared to the expectations set for such a product (R&D spent and all), so has higher chances to get pulled off than a bad performing low end products, that will stick around for more, and might by sheer luck "catch a trend" at some point.

      Personalized production is what will save us in the end I guess, but when it reaches mainstream will also coincide with most people becoming jobless, so I don't know how the quality of goods and life will look like overall then, can't find my crystal ball :) (I guess the utopian scenario would be that anything mass-produced even decent quality is dirt cheap by then and affordable on UBI, and all the made-to-order-by-robots will be the various degrees of luxury - white sneakers? 0.01$ same model but factory made with dotted texture on violet gradient and printed with the face of your cat? 1000.00$, and hand-customized post-factory might be the new mid-class as human labour could become cheap again?)

  • susodapop 5 days ago

    You didn't happen to buy crypto currency a few weeks ago, did you?

    • IncRnd 5 days ago

      That was me. Sorry about that.

    • moffkalast 5 days ago

      I heard about this great opportunity called Terra Luna...

  • niemandhier 5 days ago

    As an European 'Grape Nuts' are highly confusing to me, since the neither include grapes nor nuts.

    • azalemeth 5 days ago

      And for other non-us readers (like me), Grape-Nuts are [1]:

      > [A breakfast cereal containing] whole grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, sugar (maltose), salt, dried yeast, and the following added vitamins and minerals: iron, vitamin B3, zinc oxide, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, and folic acid.

      > According to the Grape-Nuts website, Grape-Nuts "actually contains neither grapes nor nuts". The name may have come from the cereal's resemblance to grape seeds, or from its nutty flavor; C. W. Post may also have intended it to refer to its content of glucose, which Post called "grape sugar."


      • mypalmike 4 days ago

        And for anyone anywhere who has never eaten Grape Nuts, imagine kitty litter in milk.

        I kid, but it's rather unlike any other breakfast cereal in its texture.

        • mywittyname 4 days ago

          It's also dense. Every time I pick up a box I'm surprised by the heft. The boxes are smaller, maybe a half of the volume of a normal box of cereal, yet, they probably weight at least twice as much.

          • doodlebugging 4 days ago

            The high density means that like granola you don't need to eat much to feel full so your normal breakfast serving size can be smaller if you eat Grape Nuts since they don't dissolve in milk like sugar-based cereals.

        • doodlebugging 4 days ago

          As someone who had this in the breakfast cereal rotation as a kid I can confirm the textural differences between it and almost every other cereal. It is hard, crunchy, slightly sweet though definitely not near the level of other breakfast cereals, and has a unique flavor like wheat kernels.

          It was fashionable decades ago as a healthy cereal and promoted by the famous Euell Gibbons, who would eat just about anything from nature. He is the reason that I have never shied away from sampling wild berries or leaves once I understand which plants grow in my area. There really are a lot of edible things that are overlooked since processed food is so easily obtained here in the US.

          The experience of eating Grape Nuts can really be elevated by adding fresh or dried fruit and nuts like roasted pecans, roasted almonds, roasted walnuts, or similar nuts or you could substitute candied nuts coated with honey, cinnamon sugar, praline, etc.

          Personally, if I ever eat Grape Nuts again they will be used as a topping on ice cream combined with dark chocolate syrup or fudge, some nuts, and a little dried fruit. This gives the ice cream an awesome texture boost and the melding of the flavors is fantastic.

          I currently use home-made granola base as a breakfast and spruce it up with various things every morning so the flavor experience doesn't get old. My wife makes excellent granola and it is super simple. Oats are one of my favorite grains.

          • nonamenoslogan 4 days ago

            Grape Nuts with a just a touch of honey or piloncillo and allowed to soften for 3-5 minutes before eating them is my breakfast of choice for over 20 years now.

            • doodlebugging 4 days ago

              That sounds like a good idea to let them soften. Probably enhances the experience.

              I have used piloncillo in Tex-Mex cooking - moles and other spicy sauces to add a little sweetness. I never thought about using it somewhere else.

              I'm down for honey on just about anything. I usually make a wash for my baby-back ribs with a honey base and some chile spices like ancho or gaujillo or chipotle. It really elevates the ribs when you brush it on when you are nearly at the end of smoking.

        • nescioquid 4 days ago

          Agreed. People sometimes even serve it as a porridge by replacing the milk with hot water and a little butter or cream.

        • quercusa 4 days ago

          Sweetened kitty litter in milk!

  • twic 5 days ago

    Since we're talking about shaving, i have wound using something a bit weird - Epaderm emollient ointment:

    I initially got this as an eczema ointment - it's a thick, waxy ointment intended to treat dry and irritated skin. But somehow, you can mix it with a bit of water and form a rich lather (their "cleanser" use case). It doesn't form tall, stiff piles like canned shaving foam, but it's more than adequate to lather your face with. And it works fantastically: the razor glides over my skin, and there is absolutely no irritation. In fact, my skin is in better shape after i've shaved than before.

    • dsr_ 5 days ago

      I use conditioner instead of shaving cream. It works incredibly well.

  • Quequau 7 days ago

    This happens to me a lot too.

    The first one that really stuck in my mind is BetaMax and I suppose the collapse of Be, makers of the BeBox and BeOS, was the most discouraging... though I've seen a lot of other brands & companies I liked fail.

    • coldtea 5 days ago

      >The first one that really stuck in my mind is BetaMax and I suppose the collapse of Be, makers of the BeBox and BeOS,

      Maybe your particular issue is with products starting with "be"

      • Gravityloss 5 days ago

        I hope you're not planning on visiting a certain European low lying country...

    • throwawaymaths 5 days ago

      Ok so I also picked BeOS and that was my last bad tech pick. I picked ruby a bit before it utterly exploded, then Julia in 2014, then picked elixir in 2016. I also picked zig two years ago (I'm not a promiscuous language astronaut, these are the only languages I use that I don't have to like JS or python). I knew that a car hailing app would be the next big thing in 2009, and I knew Ben awad and Simone giertz before they got huge....

      I just wish I could figure out how to monetize my prescience

    • Gordonjcp 4 days ago

      You might like Haiku, then.

      • Quequau 2 days ago

        From time to time I do spend time with Haiku in a VM. To be honest, it's not a fantastic experience... though I want to emphasise that I don't mean this as any sort of insult or slight to the dev team of Haiku. I suppose the reality is that it's pretty amazing they've gotten as far as they have, without being able to freely use the source code from BeOS, which in my opinion is hugely disappointing because no one was willing or able to anything with it in a proprietary or commercial sense.

        I view the collapse of Be as story about the many failings of the broader tech industry and the irrationality of the dot com bubble and not in any way an indication of the technical merits of the BeBox or BeOS.

        Anyway, Haiku as it is today is kinda like what BeOS was back then but obviously incomplete in several really important ways. Meanwhile the world has moved on and I do everything I used to do in BeOS (and more) with Linux. Though I do wonder what BeOS might look like now had they not collapsed back then.

  • Smoosh 5 days ago

    In our household it's Fountain Mustard Sauce. Unexpectedly, it's the ideal sauce for home-made hamburgers. Allegedly still being made but never in stock anywhere.

    Now our burgers are flavoured with a tinge of sadness and regret.

    • bigDinosaur 5 days ago

      Why don't you make it yourself? The ingredients are even given right there. It'll take some experimenting but that's fine, you might even hit on better flavours.

      • thechao 4 days ago

        What, exactly, is the ingredient "flavour"?

        • bigDinosaur 4 days ago

          Time to experiment!

          If they've stopped selling a product, what choice do you have if your burgers are tasting like sadness?

  • torstenvl 7 days ago

    Nivea sensitive shaving cream? In the squeeze tube? I bought sooooo much of the back stock when they stopped making it.

    Also: 11" MacBook Air. Strawberry Shortcake SkinnyCow ice cream sandwiches. McCormick Perfect Pinch Tuscan Seasoning with Sun Dried Tomato.

    • bbarnett 5 days ago

      Nivea sensitive shaving cream? In the squeeze tube?

      I used to care about such things. Then I just embraced the inescapable endless change, and started using soap.

      If you wet your hair first, then put on the soap, I find it not too bad.

      Just embrace it. Because they just keep changing stuff.

      • jimnotgym 5 days ago

        Proper shaving soap and a brush to apply it works better for me than the stuff in the tube. A refil lasts me a year

        • andreareina 5 days ago

          Proraso is great for a no-nonsense lather.

    • mwint 5 days ago

      > 11” MacBook Air

      Here’s hoping for a revival of the 12” MacBook with an M series chip. That’d be so good.

    • nonamenoslogan 4 days ago

      I LOVED my 11" Air, bought one in 2010, used it daily as my only laptop until 2017, gave it to my son who used it until he graduated in 2019. I replaced it with a 13" MBP which I also really like. MBP died a cat-related falling off the table tragedy recently so I pulled out the Air and was shocked--in 12ish years, my eyes no longer think its tiny screen is reasonably viewable. I wish they'd make another 11" with a retina display, but I guess Apple knows best, I replaced the 13" MBP with another 13" MBP, an M1 this time.

    • ohCh6zos 5 days ago

      RIP 17" MacBook Pro too.

      Actually come to think of it. If I love a product it's rare I can ever find it again.

      • 9935c101ab17a66 5 days ago

        I mean, there’s a 16in mbp now that is almost identical.

        • ohCh6zos a day ago

          Mine finally died so I'm going to have to get a new one, but I've always felt like the 16in have never been nearly what I wanted compared to the 17in. From the discrete GPU to the ports offered to the weight it is all just not quite what I want compared to the 17in.

          • 9935c101ab17a66 20 hours ago

            You've always been able to get the 15" with discrete graphics. There was a brief period where the 17" could be configured with slightly more VRAM, but regardless of how much you spent, the GPUs in those computers still sucked.

            The 16" was first released in 2019, and has always had both integrated and discrete GPUs. I do think the connectivity configuration is a little restrictive and one dimensional, but there's no way you could convince me to use a 17" 2011, what with it being limited to USB 2.0 and FW800 (no thunderbolt!). Thankfully this point is moot, because the 2021 16" MBP has really great connectivity.

            I'm confused by your comment about weight -- you actually want a heavier computer? The 2021 16" is 30% lighter than the 17" and smaller in all three dimensions. The 2021 16" MBP GPU is light years ahead of even the previous generation 16", let alone the 17" from 2011.

  • benj111 7 days ago

    Maybe it's just that you're an early adopter?

    I'm pretty happy to just continue with the old.

    But Heinz roast garlic deli mayo, you will be missed. And freschetta pizza, and eatemans carrot cake, and pop with sugar in, and small phones with decent battery life.

    • lovich 5 days ago

      Entemann’s stopped making their carrot cake!?!?!?

  • jgrahamc 5 days ago

    Wilkinson Sword made 30cl shaving foam cans, mostly supplied to the airline business for Business class passengers.

    Because I travel a lot I favour carry-on only, which means small quantities of toiletries and I wet shave with foam. At one point it was easy to buy small shaving foam cans for travel and at some point they got replaced with gel. I dislike the gel.

    One day in the Coop in Davos I saw a whole section of travel stuff and there they had Nivea Shaving Foam ( This seems to be available in German-speaking countries. That day I bought the entire stock on the shelf (something like 10 of them).

  • lowercased 4 days ago

    McDLT. Once I started liking them and buying them regularly... bam. Discontinued. Apologies to everyone for that. I try to stay away from ever liking anything 'new' because... if I like it, it'll be gone 6 months from now.

    • mring33621 4 days ago

      Upvote for McDLT! Hot side hot and the cool side cool!

  • woodruffw 5 days ago

    > Grape Nuts. They're next. Trust me, Post is going to be reading the interwebs and my supplies of Grape Nuts will dry up.

    Please don't jinx us like this!

  • krono 5 days ago

    Regarding your shaving foam: Look into the old-school stuff like tubes of Prorasso brand soap. Buy a good natural hair shaving brush to go with it (will last you the rest of your life) and you'll never want to go back to those cans.

    • doodlebugging 4 days ago

      When I lather up for a shave with a brush and soap I use old school Bay Rum soap.

      • krono 4 days ago

        What I like about the stuff that comes in tubes, is that it doesn't require a pre-heated lathering bowl or any pre-foaming which makes everything go real quick.

        You can just squirt some straight onto the (wet) brush and get latherin' - straight onto your face.

        Having to shave those last remnants of hair off my head is bad enough without it taking up half the prep time I grant myself each morning :)

        • doodlebugging 4 days ago

          I had never thought about that. That is definitely a useful attribute that makes me consider looking for more tubular options. My soap cup can get pretty gnarly after a while and this might solve some of that.

  • rg111 5 days ago

    Unrelated: You write good. Have a blog or something like that?

  • fibonachos 5 days ago

    If you make Grape Nuts disappear my wife will be very unhappy. I may be forced to tell her it was all your fault ;)

  • mcv 4 days ago

    I have never seen this as anything remotely related to me. There's a big supermarket chain (the biggest in my country) that for a long time had a tendency to cancel every product that I really liked. Or at least make it harder to buy.

    Since I was young, I always loved spicy vegetable sandwich spread, but for many years I thought it had been discontinued, because this giant chain sold all the other flavours, but not my favourite. Until I discovered it at a different chain, and became aware of their betrayal. Then they introduced their home brand organic vanilla ice cream which I loved, so they quickly discontinued it. They did have same home brand organic chocolate ice cream which tasted far better than home brand ice cream has any reason to (it reminded me more of Australian), so a bit later they discontinued that too. A popular A-brand desert had a lemon-variety with a particularly addictive taste, and while they didn't discontinue it entirely, they did stop selling it online and in most of their supermarkets (only the very largest still had it).

    But none of that has anything to do with me; it's just the supermarket chain that clearly has some grudge against me.

    Good news: they recently started stocking my favourite sandwich spread flavour again.

    • bombcar 4 days ago

      I've found that you can sometimes talk to the manager of the store and they can actually order most any product that any of their suppliers stock - or more of a certain product.

      Our store would continually run out of the particular baby food we wanted and the cashier noticed me buying it all when it was in stock and asked if I wanted them to just order another box for me.

      This doesn't help when the suppliers have discontinued it, and some of the larger chains are all automated, but it can be a useful trick. The computers try to notice what sells and order more (I've bought all of a certain item and noticed they stocked twice as much the next week, for example) but sometimes it can be assisted.

      You can also email the company/distributor and ask for retail locations in your area, they'll usually know.

      • threads2 4 days ago

        When I worked at a grocery store my manager hated this because you'd have to order a box of like 12 spicy vegetable spread, the person would buy one, then the rest would expire on the shelf. He'd usually just lie and say he couldn't order any.

        • bombcar 4 days ago

          Yeah, if you do it you need to follow through and buy the whole box (or most of it), otherwise they'll be less inclined to do it later.

  • raxxorraxor 5 days ago

    Grape Nuts allegedly existed for over a hundred years. Well, perhaps it is time to short Kraft Foods.

  • tomc1985 4 days ago

    I don't think Post will ever get rid of Grape Nuts, it has been this eternal staple of store shelves that my parents would bring out as some sort of breakfast cereal boogieman if I misbehaved. Lord knows who's actually buying the stuff besides you, but someone is.

  • gepiti 7 days ago

    My wife is like that but not me. She claims she is cursed :-)

  • layer8 7 days ago

    That happens to me all the time as well. I seem to have a particular knack for discovering products I like only shortly before they are discontinued.

  • giantg2 4 days ago

    This is how it feels for me and athletic shoes. It's tough to find a good design and fit. Next time I find a perfect pair I think I'll buy at least 5 extra pair and just store them in the basement. I'm tired of the design being redone every year and them not working/fitting right after that.

  • alar44 5 days ago

    I wonder if it's just because you're particular. I don't give two shits about any of those products, I just grab whatever. Thinking about it, I really don't care about any brands, so it's impossible for me to pick the "wrong" product. I don't have a preference.

  • natch 4 days ago

    Can’t get enough of this post… feel free to tell us more, I am really curious what else I should stock up on! Grape Nuts sounds like a good one.

  • jjeaff 4 days ago

    I think if the Lindy effect pans out for grape nuts, they should be around for a long time, as they are a rather old product now as far as cereals go.

  • blihp 5 days ago

    Can I trouble you for some stock picks?

  • gfody 5 days ago

    you can still find mentadent (that came in the pump dispenser) for like $300 a pack.. I think it's just how the market works - if anything is so good that people will much more than market then somehow the market adapts

  • wly_cdgr 5 days ago

    Sounds like you've accidentally stumbled into a foolproof get rich scheme

  • rusticpenn 6 days ago

    Jacobs Millicano, you will be missed

evrydayhustling 4 days ago

Found this link to the paper, since OP's SciHub link has rotted:

This is an interesting finding no matter what, but I think part of the splash comes from the idea that some people might be harbingers _independent of the rest of their identity_. Since it's not obvious that liking crystal pepsi and watermelon oreos are related, we can speculate that the people inherently like doomed products.

On my read, there's a more boring hypothesis that is equally supported: in any given period, some demographics (age, income, cultural -- all the stuff that we know gets clustered geographically) are more profitable than others. The products of the less profitable demographics get discontinued.

The main difference between this and the "harbinger" hypothesis is whether you can make surprising predictions. The paper doesn't really prove its predictive case because the calibration and holdout data come from different products in the same time period -- meaning that information about the time period leaks into the model that wouldn't be available if you were truly running a prediction.

If you feel like you yourself are a harbinger of product doom, maybe you're just a part of a group that isn't making enough money for sellers! Your choice whether to call that unfair or a victory :)

  • avereveard 4 days ago

    Alternative: people that like to experiment are the first jumping on new products, and people that like routines aren't - that would be enough to bias the experimenters into the harbinger group, and it would be useful to check if there's an overlap when measuring for household that were early adopter of successful products

    • evrydayhustling 4 days ago

      Good thought - people with "high variance" tastes might buy an unusual number of duds, but they might also be more likely to pick breakout products. An analysis for that would need to include degrees of product success, not just survival.

    • mrandish 4 days ago

      This was my reaction as well. There are two different ways to be an outlier in prefering products more likely to be discontinued. Very early adopters who have uniquely discerning selection criteria or tastes may seek out new products which meet their preferences but if the product is "too early" to capture much market share, it is likely to fail. When their 'outside the norm' preferences end up catching on with the broader market they look like trendsetters or taste makers. When their atypical preferences don't catch on, they look like the "harbingers" discussed in the article.

      I suspect the reality is that both types exist. The article says harbingers tend to clip coupons more. This implies they may be price-sensitive, lower income or perhaps trying to stretch their lifestyle beyond their means. To me, harbingers sound like people who are open to trying novel things but also tend to make quicker, perhaps ill-considered decisions. Over time this would lead to a trend of making poorer choices on average, such as remaining in zip codes where the negatives might outweigh the positives but not obviously so at first glance - explaining another finding of the study.

      I've occasionally had strong preferences for product features clearly not valued as highly by the majority of the market. That means sometimes I have to seek out or pay more for the items I prefer. However, I'm not at all price sensitive when it comes to products that differentiate themselves in ways which are important to me. Also, I almost never clip coupons.

      Conversely, when I judge a cheaper product to be equivalent in the ways that matter to me, I'll go for the cheaper one - all other things equal (ie I wouldn't drive to another store to save 75 cents). Other times, products with features I find uniquely valuable fail in the market because there aren't enough others who value those features. But I also have a large number of examples where I was very early to a product niche which was not a 'thing' but then grew into a sub-category popular enough to be sustainable and competitively profitable. An easy example is mechanical keyboards. I was one of those people seeking out old IBM keyboards and adapting the old big DIN connectors to USB. A decade later I was participating in group buys to get good mechanical keybs. Now, another decade on, I can walk into Best Buy and find three or four mechanical keyboards. I'm unusual in that I'll pay >$500 for the exact keyboard I want yet seek out a very particular brand & model of shirt or pants I prefer from Costco or Wal-Mart despite being the cheapest, apparently undifferentiated offering. But in those cases, it's always because of specific features that item uniquely possesses over others. When friends ask me about some of my less conventional product choices I can explain in detail exactly why this one is objectively better to me than the others. In many cases, following such conversations my friends end up adopting either the product or at least the previously under-valued differentiating feature.

      A personal example of the negative outcome (failed product) would be the Zazzle, a cool toy which ultimately failed in the market despite my buying one when I saw it at retail. My Zazzle is sitting on the bar in my game room and once discovered by friends becomes a favorite. One friend told me they tried to get one on eBay only to find them selling for hundreds of dollars. I have a higher than usual rate of having discontinued products I bought when new which are now selling for multiples of original MSRP. I didn't buy them because I thought they'd go up in value, I just tend to buy stuff I want if I see unique value in it.

  • smcnally 4 days ago

    A corollary to this is when a single brand and formulation become multiple brands and formulations, but the original disappears. e.g. Triscuits, Cheerios, Cranberry Juice. I can find

    * Tzatziki Quinoa Basil and Garlic Triscuits, but not Original or Low-Sodium. * Apple Honey Nut Ancho Kobe Beef Cheerios, but not Cheerios. * Mango Chutney Cranberry with Turmeric & Essence of Nightshade juice, but not Cranberry

    see also: potato chips, hummus, frozen waffles

    • AlbertCory 4 days ago

      Funny because I have both Original Triscuits and regular Cheerios in the house right now.

      Panic! Maybe I shop at a Harbinger Store [tm].

  • lordgrenville 4 days ago

    > Found this link to the paper

    Hurts my eyes. SciHub URL + DOI (10.1177/0022243719867935) works for me.

carlmr 7 days ago

>They tend to make above-average use of coupons, and the coupons they use have above-average values.

Isn't this kind of expected? Companies will give out coupons for products that don't sell so well. The higher the coupon value, the more desperate the company to get rid of this stock.

So if these households like to coupon a lot, that means they accept less than ideal market fit for a price reduction.

  • Broken_Hippo 5 days ago

    Companies will give out coupons for products that don't sell so well.

    In my experience working retail, this just isn't the case, in general - unless it has changed in the last decade. Coupons have a couple of purposes: Loyalty and foot traffic, much like sales, and often on things they make a decent profit on. You wind up seeing Tide laundry soap, Gillette razor blades, and so on. CVS gives coupons on CVS brand items to promote their store brand... which keeps folks coming back to buy stuff they make a decent profit on.

    Coupons are very likely to happen on new products, too, as a way to entice folks to buy them.

    It also costs money to put out coupons, either physical or digital, in no small part because you have many retailers that need reimbursed and coupon fraud is definitely an issue as well.

    Simply put: Coupons are an advertising device.

    Often, products that aren't selling well are either taken back by the manufacturer (to be sold at places that sell discontinued stuff) or marked down by the retailer with absolutely no fanfare (like a coupon). Folks that coupon a lot (or extrememly) are often getting new or established products at a good price instead of things they won't find in 3 months.

    • bombcar 4 days ago

      Coupons also allow price segmentation - they can sell that Tide soap for $20 to those who will pay it (and not bother with the coupon) and then offer almost perpetual coupons to those who know (and will bother), selling it for two prices simultaneously.

      Things that aren't selling get discounted or clearanced, which can be fun when they overlap - you get the original coupons designed to promote the product, and the product flopped, so it's on discount, but the system still allows the coupon to apply to it - sometimes to nearly zero or even negative (most registers don't allow negative amounts anymore).

      • LorenPechtel 4 days ago

        I've broken a few systems with rebate on the packaging greater than the clearance price.

  • secretsatan 7 days ago

    That's what I thought, I'm wondering if they really predict failing products, or if it was rather, companies already knew products were failing, and offloading onto these people through coupons.

  • smoyer 4 days ago

    Exactly, often those who are are looking for value are finding it in products that aren't economically viable - it's no surprise when these products are discontinued.

  • yieldcrv 5 days ago

    I noticed this for black friday & prime day sales as well. If you want an overstocked android powered device that a street sweeper found in an alley in Shenzhen, it will be listed as heavily discounted (although you don't know if it is actually a lower price than before). The flagship device you actually wanted will not be discounted at all.

Cupertino95014 5 days ago

I remember reading, a long time ago, that some fashion trend-follower said that it was impossible to determine what was cool soon enough to profit from it. By the time you figure it out, it's gone.

But it IS possible to figure out who is cool: you can find the people who regularly jump on trends before anyone else, and see what they buy.

But this! This is almost as good: you can figure who is NOT cool.

  • dools 5 days ago

    I believe the term is cool hunting. I remember seeing a doco about it a while back

    • Cupertino95014 4 days ago

      I think what I saw was also a New Yorker article, but it's probably been well-circulated.

  • lupire 4 days ago

    That's because stuff isn't cool. Stuff becomes desirable when rich / beautiful people promote it. It's informal brand merch.

    • cortesoft 4 days ago

      I think rich/beautiful is an oversimplification of the types of people who are trendsetters. There may be a lot of overlap between the groups, but it is not a single group.

  • IIAOPSW 5 days ago

    I wonder if we can figure out who is consistently wrong, put them on juries, and then whoever they say is guilty gets acquitted and whoever they say is not guilty gets convicted.

    Finally, a system of perfect justice.

  • i_like_waiting 5 days ago

    It's nicely described in book Tipping point from Malcolm Gladwell. Good choice for audiobook to add in playlist

  • moffkalast 5 days ago

    And then you buy tons of what they're buying because it'll be discontinued and in high demand soon.

jjeaff 4 days ago

This seems to happen to me a lot, although I think for different reasons than this study found.

At times, I will spend an inordinate amount of time and brainpower researching products and comparing them for value. I will scour the Internet for the best price, research the maker, look for alternative brandings of the same thing and then look for additional discounts and deals and purchasing schemes.

I think that sometimes, I end up finding that product that companies lose money on and those products or services tend not to last. Or at least not in the form that I was previously purchasing them.

anigbrowl 7 days ago

I read the whole paper and the supplementary information, but nowhere could I find the list of zipcodes.

patwolf 4 days ago

A lot of the insight in this paper seems pretty obvious when given any thought.

> Households that leave harbinger zip codes tend to go to other harbinger zip codes.

Since they also claim that house prices in harbinger zip codes increase less than other areas, then this just sounds like people from poor areas moving to other poor areas.

> The findings indicate that harbinger zip codes are less likely than other zip codes to donate to the candidates who receive the most donations in their three-digit zip code.

There can be huge differences between two areas with the same three-digit zip codes. A rural or suburban area can easily have the same three-digits as a downtown urban area. It would make sense for a people in two starkly different areas to support different political candidates and for the candidate supported by the more populous urban area to win.

benj111 7 days ago

Considering the number of times they used the word Harbinger, you would have thought they'd learn to spell it correctly, or at least consistently.

  • doodlebugging 4 days ago

    I agree. The inconsistency is like a text-based speed bump slowing my progress thru the paragraph and, like a physical speed bump, forcing me to look around to try to determine why the bump was necessary.

  • oh_sigh 5 days ago

    Where is it spelled incorrectly or inconsistently? I hate how much they used it in the article (20 times), already a kind of a funny word set up for semantic satiation - but I didn't notice those errors.

    • lh7777 5 days ago

      Also, the slug is "harbringer-of-doom.html".

    • matthewsmith2 5 days ago

      There are multiple uses of Habringer as the spelling

      • jhugo 5 days ago

        All of the mistakes are in this paragraph:

        > The researchers also claim that harbinger households voluntarily cluster: that when a harbinger household moves, it is likely that it will move to another habringer ZIP code (and nonhabringers move to nonhabringer households). Moreover, harbingers don't appear to learn their preferences from one another — a nonhabringer household that locates in a harbinger ZIP code doesn't alter its purchasing and political contributions to "loser" products and candidates.

        • standardly 4 days ago

          Satiate me semantically please sir

      • mistersquid 5 days ago

        > There are multiple uses of Habringer as the spelling

        A “Habringer” is someone who brings the “Ha”.

      • oh_sigh 4 days ago

        lol, thank you. I will admit my logic for searching for errors was to ctrl-f for "harb" and then see how many matches had "r" vs "i" as the next letter. I never really contemplated that someone would misspell it in that manner.

coldtea 5 days ago

>The researchers don't claim a causal relationship between these different factors — donating to losing political candidates doesn't make you prefer Crystal Pepsi, for example — but rather speculate that there is an "unobserved intervening variable" that explains both factors.

Being older, poorer, and "out of touch" with what's fashionable, politically, culturally, and market wise -- because you have other problems and you're at the very far side demographically of anybody marketeers, press, etc. attempts to even influence...

  • bombcar 4 days ago

    It could also be that the very departments that put out Crystal Pepsi and bad political candidates are well-stocked with the same type of people who buy them - but it's just a small market.

    Or it could be that they tend to lean toward new stuff, and 80% of new stuff is crap, so 80% will be discontinued relatively quickly.

cat_plus_plus 5 days ago

In a real free market / local democracy, someone would cater to the niche and everyone can have their own thing. When it's not happening, it's a sign that the free market is being suppressed, culturally if not legally. Either Harbinger households are not willing to to pay extra 10% for what they really want, or market is controlled by trillion dollar companies with billion dollar CEOs who put their egos above extra profits that will not make a difference in their lives.

sp332 5 days ago

It's gotten to the point that I'll just wait for something I like to stop getting made and then buy it in bulk when it's on clearance. This habit helps in other cases too, like when I waited for blu-ray to win the format war, then bought an HD-DVD drive and literally every single interesting HD-DVD movie ever made for the price of one blu-ray drive.

JofArnold 5 days ago

This is me and my mum. To the point where if I find something I really like which might not last more than a few years, I buy two. This occurs in many domains from breakfast cereals to shirts to bicycle tyres!

  • afandian 5 days ago

    There’s a complex curve though. Clothes which you wear for a while, good idea. Cereal? If you stockpile medium term you’ll get more attached to it and fall harder when it’s withdrawn.

    • JofArnold 4 days ago

      You're so right about the cereal as that has indeed happened! But then my outlook on life in general is "savor what you can, because tomorrow it could be gone". So while it's a pain when do stop making it, I do take time to enjoy especially delicious cereals so when they disappear for good I know I've not taken them for granted.

euroderf 5 days ago

Aura beer, Finland early 90s. They "brought it back" a few years ago but it just ain't the same. Le sigh.

  • the_imp 5 days ago

    Young's AAA, UK early 00s. They never brought it back. Ye olde sigh.

  • qwerty456127 5 days ago

    Every time I taste something I liked in the past and feel like it's not the same, I think if that's my perception which has changed more significantly than the product.

    • rvba 4 days ago

      Dont they usually change the recipes? Cheaper raw materials (e.g. high fructose corn syroup instead of sugar for soft drinks), different production methods (same line used for all products but different flavoring), various cost optimizations that compromise the quality..

      • krisoft 4 days ago

        > Dont they usually change the recipes?

        Sometimes. Sometimes it also might be a process change.

        There is a desert people in Hungary quite like. It's basically a bar of cottage cheese coated in chocolate. [1]

        One day the factory manufacturing it received a huge amount of inquires about a recipe change. The only problem was that they haven't changed anything. As far as they could tell everything was the same as it always used to be. But still there were a lot of very vocal costumers demanding the old taste so they went and investigated.

        According to the story what happened is that the logistic provider improved the refrigeration in the supply chain. Because of the cottage cheese these deserts require refrigeration. Of course they were already using refrigerated trucks, but there was some transshipment centre where the refrigeration was missing or not very effective. And what changed is that they fixed that.

        So basically the old taste, the one people demanded back, was the result of the cottage cheese just a tad bit bit ripe from the heat during transport.


        • clankyclanker 4 days ago

          That’s fascinating, and not in the article at all, that I saw.

      • bombcar 4 days ago

        Some companies spend an inordinate amount of money and time to preserve the taste (Budweiser apparently has tasters who travel the various plants making sure it all tastes the same, like water should), but many other things have had significant drifts over time (and it's hard to compare as you need actual double/triple blind tests to even begin to get accurate data).

      • qwerty456127 4 days ago

        They probably/usually do but I am not sure if this is the major reason behind the change in hod way I perceive the taste. I suspect the changes in myself may play a more definitive role in this.

nottorp 5 days ago

So ... the whole world is a harbinger household for Google products?

mhb 5 days ago

So everyone who lives in the vicinity of a Trader Joe's?

  • lotsofpulp 5 days ago

    I have a lot of choice words for whoever decided to discontinue the red TJ’s jalapeño hot sauce.

    • danuker 5 days ago

      Guess what I do: wash and slice up some peppers, stick them tightly in a jar, and fill with vinegar so that no air bubbles are left.

      Not quite a sauce, but it works for me.

      Stores for months in a fridge. Communist Romanian recipe.

      • andybak 5 days ago

        How does that not just store forever? I thought that was the point of pickling.

        • code_duck 5 days ago

          That isn’t “real” pickling. It’s a technique called refrigerator pickles. Longer shelf life techniques involve higher acidity and either fermentation or heating.

        • oasisbob 5 days ago

          Among other problems, Botulism takes all the fun out of traditional pickling recipes.

          • catchclose8919 5 days ago

            eh, if it's salty + sour it's probably ok ;) nothing acidic enough is hospitable for botulism, afaik most traditional pickling recipes involve quite high acidity from high levels of lactic acid induced fermentation...

            and in general, whatever bacteria can grow in a medum rich enough in salt + whatever acid (lactic if you're fermenting, citric or acetic otherwise) is probably not gonna hurt you too bad (salmonella and all the nasty stuff require protein + mostly towards neutral or alcaline environment).

            sure, if you're into pickled eggs or weird stuff like that, watch out, but any sour pickled vegetables are safe and even if they go off will not make you seriously ill, they'll just start tasting like s and mess your stomach a tid bit.

          • msandford 5 days ago

            Botulism is inhibited by acidity. Get the ph low enough, I want to say 4.6 or so, and it just can't live or grow.

            In grocery stores here in the US I can buy pickling vinegar which is 9% acetic acid versus 5% for the normal stuff. Regular old 5% vinegar is around 2.5ph.

        • krageon 5 days ago

          With stuff like this it depends on how you use it (f.e. it's possible they use it up over a few months, or that after that time there is not enough liquid left to cover the vegetable mass)

        • danuker 5 days ago

          It's not sterilized. There could be germs inside the peppers where there's just water, not vinegar.

    • simonh 5 days ago

      Apparently there’s a shortage of Jalapeños. Sriracha had to stop making their sauce for a while because of it, but apparently there’s a fair bit of Sriracha in the supply chain for a while.

    • tick_tock_tick 5 days ago

      Wait that's gone? Are you 100% sure? I literally just grabbed a bottle of it out of my fridge and I swear I bought only a few months ago; San Francisco TJs on 9th street.

      • lotsofpulp 4 days ago

        A couple weeks ago, the customer service reps in the store supposedly looked it up in their computer and told me it was discontinued.

        They have also told me when things are out of stock, rather than discontinued, so I assume it was actually discontinued.

  • AlbertCory 5 days ago

    Oh noes! I have two within a (longish) walk. Double-plus ungood.

notacoward 4 days ago

I'm a bit like this with restaurants. I know it's a super-tough business with high turnover already, but places I like have seemed especially prone to failure. Three in one location in my home town. At least three in Seattle (which residents will be pleased to know I no longer visit). Almost eerie.

When it comes to consumer products, I've just come to accept that my favorite beers or sodas or cheeses or candies will only be available for a short while, but I don't think that's anything to do with the harbinger phenomenon. I'm just a bit more willing than most to step away from my already-favorite brands and try something new, which means trying lots of things that have an inherently higher chance of not gaining traction in the market.

LorenPechtel 4 days ago

My wife is a harbinger of doom for restaurants.

If she really likes a place that guarantees it will either close or change so she no longer favors it.

I think it's that she's looking at value as well as the food, she's very good at finding places that aren't charging enough for good food.

foxes 5 days ago

Lmao from reading the replies here, and from how many the article seems to apply to, I’m glad the average hn user doesn’t get to decide what the market likes

>enormous laptops with hot swappable bezels and deprecated ports

>small phones

>other outdated dead technologies

  • bombcar 4 days ago

    It would be amusing to create a picture of the "stereotype" which would be a person with an absolutely massive laptop (nearly a luggable) and an itty bitty phone, among other things.

    • nominusllc 4 days ago

      phone-in-hand is starting to die out. nobody in my social circle really takes them off the desk anymore, and nobody installs new apps. a lot of us realized it's so cringe seeing people crawl into their phones at gatherings, after covid people just started making arrangements and then meeting up. the only time i see phones come out is to take a picture for your parents these days.

fallingfrog 4 days ago

I was hoping to see some red meat in the article in terms of who these harbinger households are, what kinds of products they are buying or politicians they support, so that I could either judge them for their poor taste or empathize with their misunderstood genius. Alas, the article seems to lack those kinds of details, except for the examples of Diet Crystal Pepsi and Colgate Kitchen Entrees. Both of those products sound baffling and horrible to me.

  • nominusllc 4 days ago

    Crystal pepsi was delicious. Clearly you have some parental neglect issues to work through, because most people know this.

    • fallingfrog 4 days ago


      I see your point but.. having "Crystal Pepsi" just seems weird from a branding point of view, why not just call it Sprite? Like, what's the expectation of what that would taste like? It's like saying "7-UP root beer", it's just really not clear what flavor I should expect upon drinking it.

      I have the same issues with other postmodern mashup fast foods, like, I've seen taco pizza and pizza flavored tacos. Make up your mind, are you a pizza or a taco? Such an abomination is a challenge to all existing categories of being.

    • StrictDabbler 4 days ago

      Crystal pepsi tasted like normal Pepsi but it didn't stain your teeth brown.

      We, as a society, drink intense dyes every day largely because of the legacy of prohibition... weirdly colored sodas were the social camouflage for "medicinal" liquor. Surely this brightly colored froth-tube can't be harmful!

      This rolled into the marketing illustrations of the mid-20th century.

      On a utilitarian level all sodas should be clear.

      • nominusllc 4 days ago

        This comment resonates with me. I want to have a soda, but without all the dyes. Or any drink, or even foods for that matter like salmon that is dyed pink.

fortran77 5 days ago
  • jrumbut 5 days ago

    Does it have the zip codes though? That's what we want (besides our continued condiments and shaving creams).

    • MrPoush 4 days ago

      There was some discussion on reddit about this last year, and the consensus is that the zip codes were not published and likely wouldn't be.

      One person worked the paper's methodology backwards and came up with a list of potential candidate cities:

      Kind of shocked me that I'm nowhere near any of those, as I feel like one of those harbingers (and I feel no desire to move to any of those places).

hyperpallium2 4 days ago

Very early adopters (innovators/enthusiasts) like to try new stuff. Most new stuff doesn't work out.

kloch 4 days ago

I should contract myself out to shopping malls.

- Any store I notice as I walk by might be gone in 2 years

- Any store I walk into is likely to be gone in 1 year

- Any store I actually buy something from has about 6 months left...

(this only applies to small stores. The anchors can live on in zombie mode for decades)

mkl95 5 days ago

> donate to losing political candidates

Is donating to political candidates that common? It sounds pretty odd.

  • 130e13a 5 days ago

    i could be completely wrong here, but the concept of donating money to politicians or political parties seems to me (as a european) to be mainly an american thing.

    though i guess even there it's probably a rather small percentage of the population that actually cares enough about individual candidates to donate money to them.

  • naturalauction 5 days ago

    I don’t think it’s particularly uncommon in the US and the donation data is public. This is just the first thing I found on Google, Bernie Sanders had over 5 million individual contributions like halfway through his last campaign [0]. Not to mention that campaign donations can also be for local elections.


designium 4 days ago

It would be interesting to see the relationship of this type of cohort with income level.

jimnotgym 5 days ago

>under performing real estate

There are clearly no harbingers in my county then!

  • bombcar 4 days ago

    "underperforming" could be "went up 100% whilst other places tripled".

zogomoox 5 days ago

In the movie 'the cooler' (2003) people like this are given jobs in casinos to attenuate the luck of the gamblers.

ravenstine 4 days ago

This happens to me any time something is either mango or watermelon flavored.

iancmceachern 5 days ago

Anyone else want brooks to bring back their LSD jacket in bright yellow?

yieldcrv 5 days ago

the flip side of this is if losers latch on to your product, just discontinue the product or your campaign immediately, which is possibly what happens

quickthrower2 4 days ago

Got my “is this data mining” sceptical hat on.

Terry_Roll 5 days ago

In "Harbinger Households" are called Laggards in scholarly circles.

So to use the word "Harbinger" which for most people will have greater negative connotations by virtue of the common phrase "harbinger of doom" in most English speaking people's lexicon, would suggest an element of psychological profiling is being carried out in plain site on ycombinator, although it can be played down as just a clickbait headline, no different to the techniques used by journalists and editors of "reputable" news outlets.

Either way, its getting even easier to identify the people who are worth manipulating to win elections in a country, rendering the election process not "free and fair process" so easily trumpeted out by Western democracies.

I might just place a bet on Trump winning the next US Presidential election because there are more Republicans owning and running a business than Democrats!

  • cma 5 days ago

    The article is using the term companies use, because: customers buying their products are harbingers of doom for the product (unless they got causation wrong on the coupon use for heavily discoubted possibly discontinued goods...)

    The last half of you comment seems completely unrelated to the article?

    • Terry_Roll 5 days ago

      Actually these 3 are the one's who started to coin the phrase.

      This is another attempt to run with the idea with some variation.

      Harbinger Customers is also a phrase coined.

      Its out there, its just a question of time before someone picks up the ball and runs with it. You can track idea's snowballing online, like this one.

      Research papers like this tend to have more gravity if they are focused at those with money to spend, so this latest twist will certainly get some attention from businesses.

      Savvy Political Campaign organisers will also be aware of this development when targeting their efforts for future upcoming US Presidential elections with current legislation in place.

      The Surveillance Capitalism that exists for businesses to identify and target individuals can equally be applied to political campaigns, helped along with favourable media coverage from political donors product or service advertising budget to sever the direct link to comply with legislation.

      Its not a cynical take on the world, its the nuanced way the world works, something even the press dont like drawing attention to, so you dont ever see any decent investigative journalism now a days.

      The world is all bought and paid for, as some would say!

    • nerdponx 5 days ago

      > The last half of you comment seems completely unrelated to the article?

      Their comment is implying that this research is part of a larger academic bias against and attempt to publicly disparage political conservatives, Republicans, and/or rural people.

  • anonymoushn 4 days ago

    TFA seems to be about Innovators who turn out to be wrong a lot. I don't think Laggards are the same thing.