business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

As much time as I've spent here on MNB talking sports over the past few weeks, especially during what was a thrilling World Series, I'm not sure I spent enough time drawing business lessons from the experience.

And so, this morning, I'd like to use this space to offer an Eye-Opening perspective from MNB reader Ryan Murphy ... which, I think, speaks for itself:

As I lifelong Cubs fan, the last week has been euphoric for me.  Having never experienced a World Series championship, I had no idea that it would feel this thrilling!  I hope you had the same feeling back in 1986 with your beloved Mets.

My grandmother is 94 years old and is one of the many elderly Cub fans that you've probably seen celebrating the last few days.  She fondly tells stories of her grandfather listening to the Cubs on the radio and taking her to Wrigley in the early 1930's as a little girl.  They were very close.

My 19-month old daughter stayed up with me to watch game seven (not quite the whole game, like Chapman she faded in the eighth inning).   As the game came to a close I thought about my grandmother as a little girl with her grandfather sharing moments just like me and my daughter were.  Someday I'll tell my daughter that her great great great grandfather would be proud.

Now, there's quite a bit that her great great great grandfather would not recognize about today's game.  I wasn't listening to the radio. I was streaming the game on my smart TV.  When she needed a diaper change I simply switched over to my phone with the MLB app and didn’t miss a pitch.  And I don’t live anywhere near Chicago – I’m in Florida.  I won’t even mention what he probably would have thought about the DH and replay review.

Despite all the changes, the experience of sharing the game with my daughter is essentially unchanged from the same experience my grandmother had with her grandfather.  As the game concluded, I thought about how the Cubs connect six generations of my family.  Many people don’t even know who their great great great grandparents are.  I’m fortunate enough not only to know, but to share their passion with the next generation.

That kind of nostalgia is powerful and rare.  This is where the business lesson lies.  A company can’t acquire or copy 108 years of history.  Way back when, you were either around or you weren’t.  Besides the Cubs, my grandmother’s other frequent topic of discussion is shopping at the nearby Jewel.  She’s shopped there since my mother was young.  She likes Jewel and they’ve kept her business for all these years.  When I’m back in Illinois and see a Jewel, I immediately think of her and fond memories of my childhood.

Companies that can create that kind of nostalgia have a competitive advantage that the Amazon’s of the world cannot usurp.  Of course, nostalgia cannot replace good operations (see A&P).  And like MLB, you must use technology to enhance but not overwhelm the experience.  It is a differentiator and a powerful one if you can tap into it.

Just ask any of the five million people who went to the parade.


As I said. An Eye-Opener.
KC's View: