Tag Archives: marketing

iPads only selling to the Apple faithful? Only if you count anyone with an iPod as “the faithful”

In search of a headline, Marketing Magazine cites a YouGov survey as showing that the iPad is only “reaching out to the converted“:

“In the two months since the iPad launched in the UK, YouGov has found that 96% of the 713 iPad owners surveyed owned products such as an iPod, iPhone or Mac.”

Why would this be a surprise? Given that Apple utterly dominates the MP3 player category with over 70% market share, it would be a surprise if most people surveyed hadn’t owned an Apple product. When you’ve sold over 225 million music players alone, you’d be hard-pushed to find anyone likely to buy something like the iPad who hasn’t bought an Apple product.

Marketing Week Live goes all iPhone AR crazy

I’m pretty skeptical about augmented reality applications in general, but there are some occasions when I think they’re actually quite useful. Events, for example, are a particular case where AR makes sense. The location is relatively small, but there’s usually a large amount of information surrounding particular areas within the event – seminars, press releases, and so on.

Add in an audience which actually needs to get to grips with the technology of communications, and it’s obvious why next week’s Marketing Week Live 2010 has an AR iPhone app associated with it. And judging from the pictures I’ve seen of it, it looks pretty good.

There’s the usual AR features: hold the phone up, and the app layers useful information on top of it (I’m hoping this information includes the location of bars and toilets, which are the kinds of things that journalists are always after). Perhaps more useful, though, is the image recognition function: point the app at the logo of a company on a stand, and it will recognise the company and list information that’s relevant, including the option to book a meeting with them if they’re taking meetings.

The app was put together by Yuza Mobile, and it looks like a nice piece of work, balancing out the obvious need for an app that’s a bit of a showcase for marketers of what AR can do with stuff that’s useful for people attending the show.

I’m going to be along at the show at some point (and if you’re going to be there, give me a shout) so I’ll probably be running around taking pictures of people pointing their iPhones at logos and swearing about the data connections being swamped. But kudos to MWL2010 for creating something that looks both interesting from a technology perspective and actually useful to its audience.

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Why market research makes for bad products

Apple Store iPad Queue
Image by Softly, Softly via Flickr

Market research often falls down on one simple flaw: if you ask consumers what features they want before you show them a product, it’s almost never in line with what they end up buying:

“Consumers didn’t ask for tablets,” she points out in her summary. “In fact, Forrester’s data shows that the top features consumers say they want in a PC are a complete mismatch with the features of the iPad.”

If you give someone a feature list of the iPad, almost no one would buy it. Yet, give them the product, and they do. The “check list” approach to marketing fails – unless you’re marketing to someone who buys with a check list in hand. And who, other than IT managers, ever does that?

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Why are companies so afraid of “think(ing) different”?

You’d think that companies would want to make their products different from their competitors, wouldn’t you? ?After all, if there’s a difference, people might actually buy your product rather than someone else’s?

Not always the case, as Matthew Taylor notes:

“Then a few days later a friend was comparing prices from Virgin and BT to have a broadband package in the home. Leaflets came through the door with attractive and strikingly different all-in monthly prices on their cover. It took a couple of hours of ploughing through the small print to work out that the actual cost was two or three times as much and, if everything was included, the prices were virtually identical.”

(Caveat: BT are a client, so naturally I’d dispute part of this! :) )

In his fabulous list of “Top tips on how to get the worst out of your agency“, James Myers notes much the same thing from a marketing perspective:

“Under no circumstances provide information that suggests your product or service is different in any way shape or form.”

So why on earth does this happen? My guess is that there’s two reasons. First, when you’re supplying a commodity good or service, all companies are working with the same basic products and similar margins, which means you have to work very hard to do something different. 

The second – and I think what James is getting at – is that differentiation is risky and most corporations are notoriously risk-averse. If you’re doing something different to the competition and it fails, you – the middle-level manager with a budget – are going to get dumped on from a very great height. If, on the other hand, you’re doing the same thing as your competitors then it’s likely they’ll fail as badly as you – and then everything will be fine. 

Which leads me to a question which will form a decent book for someone: How does Apple manage to be a company which apparently doesn’t take too many risks, but which manages nonetheless to do marketing, product design and development so differently to everyone else? How, in a market which everyone is convinced is a commodity one, do they differentiate?

As I mentioned, I think there’s a serious book in that. One that, once he’s retired, I hope Steve Jobs will write. 

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Quote of the day

Rory Sutherland: Let’s put sales promotion at the heart of the agency:

"The second assumption is just as dangerous: it is the dangerously linear assumption that the best way to build a brand is to set out to build a brand. I really don’t believe this. I think if you set out to build a great business, you’ll stand a fair chance of building a great brand. I am not equally confident that someone aspiring to build a great brand will build a great business."