William Gibson, speculative fiction writer, has several times
is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.
The truth of this statement lies in the fact that trends are
formed by the adoption of something new that facilitates an unchanging human
motivation: a need, want or desire. For instance, the advent of Facebook and
other social media did not create the desire to share our lives with others,
but they have enabled the ability to share more easily, immediately and widely
than ever before.
So whatever the future holds, its roots are here with us in the
present. The real trick is to predict which thing is going to be the next big
thing, which is why Mark Twain was right when he said:
The art of
prophecy is very difficult, especially with respect to the future.
Here are three mini scenarios for 2020. My question for you is
what will really happen? Do these seem likely or do you envisage an alternative
Scarcity of Time
- People find themselves increasingly short of time, and can no
longer get by with less sleep.
- Lifestyles become less planned, more immediate and
- People become reliant on technology and brands to facilitate
- Consumers expect to be able to get what they want when they want
it, leading to a boom in on demand and delivery services. Product brands seek
to add levels of service and just in time accessibility to their offer.
- People expect
packaged goods, food and drink, to be resupplied automatically. As a result,
brand owners must focus on initial brand adoption rather than encouraging brand
2. Battle for Control
People who work in brand admire Apple for very good reasons. An
iconic brand that delivers revolutionary, beautifully designed and incredibly
In light of recent events we wonder if we are starting to see weakness in the Apple Brand. Recent
Wall Street iPhone 5 expectations were not met, brand
loyalty is diminishing while Samsung’s
popularity is increasing. The share price is suffering too. Is the brand struggling to retain its status as
the Apple of people’s eye? Consider these points:
▪ Leadership? Steve Jobs was a superb brand marketer, visionary and was core
to Apple’s brand story (starting off in the garage etc). Tim Cook has very big
shoes to step into. Can he really match up to Steve Jobs with regards to vision,
brand strategy and product innovation? A tough act to follow.
▪ Questionable brand personality? Apple was recently ordered to remove a banner
from its site that hid the court ordered apology to Samsung relating to the
recent IP case. Apple has also been in the press with regards to questionable working practices. Will consumers
identify with this type of brand?
▪ Stronger Competitors? Samsung is launching products people are buying.
Similarly, Samsung is starting to poke fun at Apple’s coolness in its recent
campaigns. This indicates growing confidence. More importantly, this
advertising strategy serves a deep psychological and emotional purpose – to get
Apple consumers to question their decision making motives and chip away
at emotions concerning conspicuous consumption.
Insidious? Maybe. Clever. Definitely. Similarly in brand hungry countries like
China Apple’s position is being challenged by increasingly
powerful incumbent brands. Apple’s iPhone 5 is also struggling to get traction in China’s mobile market through
up-channel relationships with key players like China Mobile. Apple needs a
piece of the Chinese mobile market pie but key channels are not playing ball.
This is the third of three
blog posts on the valuable marketing lessons to be learned from the recently-concluded
Presidential election. One and two can be found here and here.
the many lessons the successful Obama campaign taught brand marketers, one has
been largely overlooked. It is this: the
current Big Data ramp-up in marketing database infrastructure needs to be
focused on winning at the margins.
about the campaign’s voter database continue
to dominate post-election coverage of Obama’s victory. These stories are filled with fascinating details
about the fusion of disparate databases, the profiles constructed of individual
voters, the likelihood scores assigned to each individual, the targeted phone
calls made and the frequency of making them, and the experiments conducted to
optimize the framing of Obama’s message to voters. But few of these stories describe, or even
recognize, the most valuable purpose of these efforts, which was to sway and
motivate voters at the margins.
were two such marginal effects the Obama campaign needed to accomplish. The first was to get the Obama constituency
to the polls. Romney’s campaign made a
huge bet that Obama would fail to get the vote out among his strongest
constituencies, and thus the final distribution of actual voters would wind up
in Romney’s favor. As it turns out, this
was a very bad gamble. The Obama
campaign was able to use its data infrastructure to turn out likely Obama voters
at the margins who, otherwise, would probably have not gone to the polls.
second effect was to persuade many of those on the fence to vote for the
President. Again, this was a marginal
effect, one of winning over the next voter, and then the one after that and the
one after that, etc., with each successive voter a little harder to convince
than the one before.
is one of the most important marketing decisions. Here’s a little history on
how we thought about pricing in the early days of the Mac which may help
marketers understand how Apple might be thinking about pricing in the post-PC
The early Mac
had a higher COGS (cost-of-goods-sold) than the MS.DOS PC. This is because we
had to amortize all of our system software development and leading edge
proprietary graphics hardware technology across a much smaller number of
physical units than PCs. Microsoft could spread its R&D across 9 times more
computers and Bill Gates purposefully priced his operating system at a very low
price to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in order to hold off
competitors. Bill’s strategy was to charge a high price for application
software and in fact Microsoft’s profit on each Mac was about the same as
Apple’s because Microsoft’s MacOffice was premium priced.
Steve Jobs and I
disagreed over the introductory price for the original 128k Mac. Steve wanted
to sell it for $1999 and I wanted to sell it for $2499.
Here was why we
eventually settled on $2499. In 1993, all of Apple’s profits and cash flow came
from the 6 year old Apple II. We needed that Apple II cash flow to fund the Mac
development and marketing launch. If the Mac were introduced at $1999 there would be insufficient monies to
fund both the Mac launch and follow-on Macintosh R&D without systemically
reducing Apple’s traditional 40% gross margin. Neither I, nor the Apple board,
wanted to reduce our 40% gross margin and the facts were that Macintosh would
continue to be a more expensive R&D computer platform than the Apple II.
Even at 27, Steve Jobs was a very sharp business strategist and his defense of
the $1999 price point was largely out of loyalty to an expectation he had previously
set with his Mac team that he would price the Mac as a consumer appliance and
back in 1984, $1999 was actually thought of as a consumer price point for a