The one liberal value blands tend to elide is inequality, because while blands are, by definition, not opulent, neither are they bargain-basement. For the rich, blands are an ironic normcore trifle; for the aspiring middle, blands offer a fleeting facsimile of prosperity; and for the poor, blands are either the products they make, or the services they provide.
— Ben Schott, Welcome to Your Bland New World
I both loathe and love Blands myself. I am the target market, of course, but often find them disappointing relative to the standard bearers.
What I find attractive about most direct to consumer companies is not discussed too much in this article, which rightly criticizes their faux ethics and VC-backed rise and fall. No, what I like about most blands is an uncomplicated, consistent buying experience. Blands and their marketing buzz means I can get access to sufficient reviews and testimonials to know if the product is good. I can rely on an easy online shopping experience. Shipping is consistent and tracked. Return policies are reasonable.
It wasn’t long ago that none of this was a given on the web, and therefore your choices were in person shopping or Amazon. Or at least it seemed that way to me.
In that sense, the really disruption to Blands has not been their proliferation beyond what the market can bear, nor has it been the Instagram dropshipping clones. The real change has been Shopify, and to a lesser degree Stripe and Square, which have made it easier for small businesses to have the same solid online shopping experience that Blands had.
Increasingly when I buy online, I recognize the same store design, the same email confirmation, and the same shipping tracking. Thi s is not bland— my experience in stores is consistent when buying in brick-and-mortar stores, and this consistency online is welcome. It increases my personal trust. It’s enabling small businesses with quality products to have presence.
Most of the Blands don’t have much to offer me anymore. They can’t differentiate amongst themselves, and they can’t compete with quality products from companies who sell great products for a profit instead of blitzscaling.