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The Truffle Hunter's Paradox

I2m_blacktruffles Before making their way into dishes served by 5 star restaurants around the world, black truffles start their journey to the plate by being discovered and licked by a dog (or pig).  Is that the kind of delicacy you are interested in?  When you think about it, a lot of what we strive for or appreciate has questionable beginnings.  The history of blood diamonds is another such example where for many years most people did not know the truth behind their selling.  Throughout our world are delicacies, luxuries, status symbols and just plain products for which we are ignorant or would prefer to not know about the beginnings.  Yet in an increasingly transparent world where the "backstories" of products and entire industries are now being exposed intentionally and unintentionally – the time of this happy ignorance seems destined to end.  For some organizations, that brings another marketing opportunity and story to tell.  For others, it’s a PR fiasco requiring a full crisis management plan and (hopefully) a change in process.

As information continues to flow more and more freely about the process behind the products we purchase, it is already bringing an age of the "easily enlightened consumer."  That is, consumers who may not actively be seeking information about the origins of a product, but learn about them through easily accessible information online or word of mouth from credible sources they trust.  When consumers are easily enlightened, secrets are hard to keep.  And this turns out to be the true paradox for truffle hunters or sellers or any kind of highly sought after products or experiences.  The end product is no longer the only thing that matters.  How you get there makes a big difference, and may even be the difference between making a sale or losing it.

NOTE: This image of black truffles was purchased to use in this post from istockphoto.

4 thoughts on “The Truffle Hunter's Paradox”

  1. Is the emphasis on ‘easily’ or ‘enlightened’ Rohit? There’s a whole world of difference between the ability to discover ‘the truth’ and ‘truthiness’ online when it comes to the backstory. Credible sources they trust still may utilise the little known fact that 97.3 per cent of statistics are made up on the spot (fact!)

    I definitely agree that the journey is one of the most interesting and enlightening stories consumers and customers can look at to see whether they want to adopt the brand, and that no longer is it the case that ‘history is written by the victor’ – all sorts of histories can be constructed and be completely independent of each other. So enlightenment can still be a challenge, as much as assessing which religion is ‘the best’, as values are individual.

  2. Hi Justin,
    You’re right – “enlightenment” is probably a loaded word. What I meant was probably something a bit less ambitious, simply thinking that people could be more easily informed and knowledgeable about the things that they buy. Enlightenment, as you rightly point out, is probably too meaningful of a word to describe what is usually happening. By the way, I think I recently read the actual number for statistics that are made up is closer to 93.7 percent … 🙂

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Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

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