Modern technology is designed with user experience (UX) at the forefront. Customers want all the latest features, but they also want something that is easy and fun to use.
This is where Apple managed to revolutionise the technology marketplace in the early 2000s. By focusing on the UX of their mp3-player, the iPod, they created a device that was no more technologically advanced than its competitors, but was valued for its ease-of-use and fashionable design.
Apple capitalised on this with the launch of the iPhone – and to this day it remains one of the most anticipated technology launches.
So what was it that the company did to shift the paradigm so much in the early 2000s?
They created an end-to-end user experience.
Steve Jobs understood that the user experience of any technological product begins before the product is released. This focus on experience is the defining trait of Apple’s brand, design, and marketing.
Richard Edwards of experiential marketing company, Quatreus, breaks this process down to see what lessons we can all learn:
Before release – get buy-in to your brand
There are teasers, ‘leaked’ release dates, early photos and feature releases, a comprehensive overview at a keynote speech, a countdown, press coverage, and so on, until eventually the product is released.
Over many years Apple has convinced us that its products are markedly different from its competitors. The focus on user experience has proven this brand image true. Apple has shown the world that there’s a different way of presenting the same package; their way makes life easier and more fun.
This demonstrates how experience and branding go hand-in-hand to build a positive user experience before a product is even released.
At the launch – Turn your product launch into a media event
Product launches are increasingly becoming about the event itself rather than the product. This is, again, about creating an experience around the product in order to increase its perceived value.
Jaguar recently launched the Jaguar XE with an event on a floating stage in the Thames. Fireworks accompanied performances from the Kaiser Chiefs, The Royal Ballet, and Emeli Sandé. By creating an event around its launch, Jaguar got the media and punters talking, and suddenly there is a perception that this car is something extra special.
Apple always make a big song and dance about their new product launches, to the point that now the world’s major news agencies have journalists dedicated to covering the launch of any new iPhone. Just check out this “live stream” from The Telegraph to see how deeply Apple has permeated the media consciousness.
Marketing to the masses – Focus on benefits, not features
Creating an experience is central to enhancing the sense of value of a product. However, you must keep the focus on benefits, not features.
Many Apple adverts don’t even have a voiceover or text, they simply show how the technology transforms people’s everyday lives: A father who is able to see his child’s first steps despite working all over the world thanks to FaceTime; The sports enthusiast who can enhance their workout with an app; The students who can capture their nights out thanks to the improved camera flash.
None of these technologies is revolutionary, but the way they are presented, as benefits of owning an Apple product, help convince customers that they are buying that lifestyle.
After the dust has settled – keep customers engaged
Apple employs both digital and real life experiences in order to keep customers engaged. The digital side revolves around new exciting apps and music; that the new U2 album found its way onto almost everyone’s device demonstrates Apple to be the brand that keeps on giving.
The real-life component is reflected in the Apple stores. They have brightly lit glass walls, and employ ‘Geniuses’, not customer support staff.
Red Bull is another great example – they don’t just sell energy drinks, they sell a lifestyle reflected through thrill-seeking, fun experiences that hundreds of thousands of people enjoy every year. They have their own F1 team, they host an annual Flugtag, they run the X-Games – unique, high-octane experiences for their customer base, making them willing to pay a bit more for their brand. Classic experiential marketing.
The modern marketer, then, is not simply responsible for blasting out a list of features of your new technology. From your branding, to your pre-launch, to the launch, to the marketing messages, to how they continue that experience on after the launch – everything on a marketer’s to-do list should be focused on engaging the target market in a complete experience of brand and product.