Marketing to the Mac Generation - It's all about Image

Thread Title:
The Mac Generation
Thread Description:

Jupiter Analyst Joe Wilcox posts some thoughts on marketing to todays younger audience. He argues that young adults in their teens and early twenties, often refered to as the NetGen or GenY, are less interested in features and functionality than they are image, coolness and simplicity of use.

He goes as far, in the context of recent masterful marketing moves from Apple with the iPod Shuffle launched alongside the Mac Mini to label them as The Mac Generation.

This younger, growing buying force appears to be more buzz oriented, more influenced by peer choices, more community-decision oriented. Apple has long positioned the Mac as a lifestyle choice, and its loyal customer base has created community. I believe belonging will be powerful marketing for the new boom, estimated at something like 80 million kids, and so far Apple is masterfully selling community and using community buzz to promote its products.

So, my points are two: That the new generation's sociological orientation and technology experience will greatly impact their buying habits. So far, Apple has courted both well with iPod, iTunes and the iTunes Music Store, by belonging and buzz marketing and providing functional products, which, by the way, tend to do what they're supposed to very well.

I would encourage other vendors to take a long hard look at who is buying iPods and Macs and why. Time is now to get a strong handle on the new boomers, many of which are old enough (early teens to early twenties) to have tremendous spending power. Then there are issues about what products that vendors should offer. Using computers as example, I'm convinced that consumers don't so much care about fastest as most useful, and that holds more true for younger buyers. JupiterResearch has lots of data and qualified analysts to help clients. Please, use the resources.

Where Joe gets it wrong, or at least doesn't clarify enough i think is in the "don't care about features" bit - They do care, instinctively that just rings wrong with me. The point is that in a product like iPod Shuffle then sure, you can throw a few features out the window and sell on coolness alone (at $99 it's not exactly expensive) but in terms of other products such as the Mac Mini, which actually comes with a whole bucketload of neat features, and products of a less wearable nature, you'd be a fool not to pack it with comparable features.

By Joe's way of thinking though, perhaps those features should not become a major selling point. Good sales people know that people almost never buy on features. Buying is about passion, desire, sex apeal and yeah, coolness. It's about "How do i see myself with this product?" and "How do others see me with this product?" not "what can i do with this product?".

You can argue the toss all day about that, but its true - regardless of how you might logically point out that better features make a better product, at the end of day, buying decisions just ain't made that way.

And Apple gets it.


On a related note...

Another smart move by Apple - "intel inside" like but smart nonetheless - Made for iPod labels to prefered vendors of accessories...

As engadget note, it could also be used to bully vendors that supply gear for rival systems...

It has to work well

To many marketing types forget that Apple negotiated a real breakthrough with the whole iTunes/iPod and the iTunes Store thing. Not only was the ease of use factor there but they made it elegant and ease for the masses to use. Moreover, they got the music industry to agree to a more relaxed DRM scheme than ever before. Those two factors, _plus_ the marketing of coolness for having an iPod made it take off.

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