Feeding the Need of Your Consumer – A Marketing Case Study

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Yesterday, I was chatting with my brother-in-law about some things and noticed his iPhone 3G screen was still cracked.  I say, “still”, because it has been that way for the better part of the year.  I asked him when he was going to get it fixed, and since his contract was already up, why he wouldn’t just go get a new one.  His response was, “I’m waiting for the iPhone 5 to come out.”

“So what features will the new phone have?”

I asked this sincerely, because I too was curious.  Generally, if I’m waiting for a new product I’ll go to the rumor mill websites and find out all the new great things people know, or assume, or hope the next version will have.

He told me, “I don’t know, I just want it.”

“What do you mean?  What’s it going to do differently that will change your life?”  I said it somewhat facetiously, but I thought this was a pretty natural thing for him to want to know.

“I don’t know bro, it’s the iPhone 5!”

He said this as if it should be obvious to me and everyone else in the world.  If Apple is going to make a new phone, we should get it, no questions asked.  In a way, that simple statement was very profound.

What do the best brands do well?  They feed a need you might have never known you had. 

Let’s break that down.  First they create a need or desire.  Secondly, they constantly feed it.

In the case of Apple, and really the smartphone industry as a whole, it was very easy to create a need.  They offered something that was new, that no one else had previously come close to.  They combined a phone with GPS technology, bigger cameras (including video), a real web browser and paved the way for the huge app industry that is now upon us.  In essence they combined about a million different technologies and placed it all in your pocket! They took away the need to own a separate GPS & mp3 player, carry another camera in your pocket,  and the need to stop into your local internet cafe to check your mail.  They made life simpler. 

That’s what all good brands do in the modern world.  They make life simpler.  Netflix made video rentals simpler, and they crushed Blockbuster.  Target and other big box stores made retail shopping simpler by saving customers trips to multiple stores, and they have thrived.  Facebook made connecting to friends and family simpler and they have become an internet giant.  The list could go on and on.

Once good brands create the appetite, they want to make it as insatiable as possible.  In the technology industry, and specifically in Apple’s case, the way they feed that appetite is by designing it faster, more feature packed, & more user friendly.  Who wants a 5 mega pixel camera when you could have 8?  Who wouldn’t want a faster processor, a bigger or clearer screen, more durable construction, front facing camera, another color option, etc.?

Good brands like Apple constantly learn, and innovate.  People like my brother-in-law think they will have something so much more useful and life changing in the next release that the specifics don’t matter. Just like a successful fashion designer’s new line, consumers want the newest and the best from a name they trust.

If you want your brand to be successful, take the approach Apple has, and I guarantee you will succeed.  First make someone’s life simpler, innovate and repeat.

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