My 1977 ABBA ticket stub holds the answer.


At 6pm on 10 March 1977, I was lucky enough to witness ABBA live in concert. Just 12 years of age, hopelessly cheeky and recalcitrant, but then again, a seriously lucky duck to be one of 8,000 fans at ABBA’s first ever concert in Perth.

What a blast – and not just because of the excitement of the short-lived bomb hoax, nor those animal motif costumes (well, err...) - but because there was nothing else like the spandex phenomenon that was ABBA. Back in the day, they were without argument the most unique and popular music group on the planet. Talent, plus a sensational ‘must have’ product, packaged, managed and shipped to perfection. Two couples with funny accents, looks and a rags-to-riches story that was acceptable to parents, also fuelled the phenomenon.

So now to the ticket stub. Printed with runny ink on cheap printer's board for a few cents and with zero intrinsic value, the complete ticket cost to the consumer was pumped up to around $9. This entitled the bearer to enter the concert. At the time, such a price was considered (by parents) to be daylight robbery and of course caused an outrage. In today's dollars, it equates to roughly $48 and is a price point I would gladly pay to see a performance of equal standing in today's terms.

As usual, one half of the ticket was retained at the entry door and I retained the other half. So, for $9, I received value of at least that $9 (but way more due to the enduring memories), plus I got to keep the stub half for free.

Today, my stub (in mint condition I might add....) can be sold for at least USD100 based on recent evidence from a less than mint condition stub sale. Converting to AUD, let's call that $125 in today's dollars. Effectively, an additional $77 of extrinsic value captured, if I were to realise it. Small beer, but an impressive return over 40 years (and even better as I did not pay for the ticket) in contrast to stubs for other brands that came to Perth in 1977 which I have seen sell for $5 and $10 apiece.

ABBA’s brand value is enduring. Memorabilia, breakaway rights (like Mamma Mia) and other ‘assets’ will no doubt continue to increase in value due to the undisputed rarity and quality of the underlying asset, even despite printer’s ink and board having no discernible value in their own right.

Yep; there is only one ABBA, but the story is analogous to businesses that differentiate themselves with the best talent, a killer product and/or service, immaculate execution and a culture of over-delivering into the customer’s expectation - even in the face of a bomb threat.

High impact differentiation, enduring quality and consistency and an unrivalled customer experience must be our goal. Transform your business/platform into an ABBA and you will enjoy enduring growth and dividends over the long term.


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PS: there has been way too much written about today's upcoming FOMC meeting address by Janet Yellen, but if you need a refresher, click onto your favourite media service.