Recent news articles and Vanguard's marketing efforts indicate that investors increasingly are focusing on investment costs.
This USA Today article discusses TD Ameritrade's decision to allow customers to trade -- commission-free -- more than 100 exchange traded funds, from several providers. The decision follows Schwab's announcement of commission-free trades for several Schwab in-house ETFs. Morningstar notes in this article that Vanguard has lowered the minimum initial investment for Admiral class shares, which have a very low expense ratio, of many of Vanguard's in-house funds. Vanguard also has lowered to $10,000 from $100,000 the minimum initial investment for Admiral class shares of Vanguard's broad equity market index fund. This Motley Fool article shares the news that Vanguard has overtaken Fidelity as America's largest mutual fund company and compliments Vanguard for having done so "the right way," with low fees. The Motley Fool article goes on to say that "fund fees matter ... ."
Recent Vanguard marketing campaigns have highlighted the Vanguard cost advantage ("... we offer our mutual funds at cost ..."). These campaigns act on the conclusion of this Vanguard research paper (Costs matter: Are investors voting with their feet?) that a fund's lower costs correlate with higher net cash inflows to the fund.