from “the Tipping Point, How little things can make a big difference”- Malcolm Gladwell
The word ‘Maven’ comes from the Yiddish, and it means one who accumulates knowledge. In recent years, economists have spent a great deal of time studying Mavens, for the obvious reason that if marketplaces depend on information, the people with the most information must be the most important. For example, sometimes when a supermarket wants to increase sales of a given product, they’ll put a promotion sticker in front of it, saying something like “Everyday Low Price!” The price will stay the same. The product will just be featured more prominently. When they do that, supermarkets find that invariably the sales of the product will go through the roof, the same way they would if the product had actually been put on sale.
This is, when you think about it, a potentially disturbing piece of information. The whole premise behind sales, or supermarket specials, is that we, as consumers, are very aware of the prices of things and will react accordingly: we buy more in response to lower prices and less in response to higher prices. But if we’ll buy more of something even if the price hasn’t been lowered, then what’s to stop supermarkets from never lowering their prices? What’s to stop them from cheating us with meaningless “everyday low price” signs every time we walk in? The answer is that although most of us don’t look at prices, every retailer knows that a very small number of people do, and if they find something amiss — a promotion that’s not really a promotion — they’ll do something about it. If a store tried to pull the sales stunt too often, these are the people who would figure it out and complain to management and tell their friends and acquaintances to avoid the store. These are the people who keep the marketplace honest. In the ten years or so since this group was first identified, economists have gone to great lengths to understand them. They have found them in every walk of like and in every socioeconomic group. One name for them is “price vigilantes.” The other, more common, name for them is “Market Mavens.” (pg. 60-61)