Are shoes a commodity?
Depends on your point of view.
If you’re the average American they certainly are and shoes are bought by the vast majority on a sliding scale that leads with price while also incorporating fit, comfort, style, color and convenience among other things.
However if you’re a member of the 1%, as most orthodontists are, shoes are quite often NOT a commodity. One percenters often shop for shoes primarily based on the brand, status and style of the shoes as well as the sense of accomplishment one feels when one is able to afford and own such luxury items. This is a wholly different process for selecting and purchasing an item and the mindsets between the groups are at odds. Because of this it’s very difficult for a member of one group to understand or even comprehend the actions of members of the other group.
I hadn’t realized any of this until today when Bridget pointed it out and I’m optimistic that perhaps this explanation will help orthodontists understand the fact that orthodontics is a commodity to the majority of Americans. The point being that if you want to serve only the upper echelon of society as we orthodontists have traditionally done then keep doing what you’re doing. If you want to expand your patient base and address the busyness problem ubiquitous in our profession then perhaps it’s time to consider the possibility that orthodontics IS a commodity.

One thought on “Orthodontics IS a Commodity… Just Not To Orthodontists

  1. I would contend that orthodontics is in transition from a medical service enjoyed by the higher economic groups (pre-1990) to a commoditized necessity. At this point in the evolution, differentiation is key in making any provider more attractive to our target markets. When multiple competitors produce similar products, we need to use branding strategies and make greater attempts to appeal directly to the needs and desires of the consumers we are targeting.

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