Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Marketing challenge: What could be smarter than a Smartphone?

 Marc Sokol

Summer break is over, the kids are back in school, and it’s time to put your marketing brain back to work!

If you have teens, as we do in my family, everyone has some version of a smartphone, with multiple functions, capabilities, and in different colors.  Surely you have noticed that almost all teens use their smartphones in a vastly different way than do their parents.  Raised in a telephone and cellphone generation, for me it’s primarily a phone with the added value of email, texting, and all those wonderful apps, many of which I never seem to use.

For my teens, however, it’s not much of a cellphone at all; it’s a texting device.  My nephew even has a voice message that says, “Don’t leave me a voice message, because I don’t pick them up. If you want to reach me, send a text message.”  No apology, just a statement of fact.

Which brings me to the point of this post:  why still call it a smartphone when the phone is largely inconsequential to a growing generation of consumers?

Years back I had a Palm Pilot.  I liked the term, PDA, for Personal Digital Assistant, because that what it was for my different needs.  Droid, short for Android, a referral to having your own robot-like device, also seems an appealing label for a multifunction personal device: one syllable, implying ‘intelligent but at your service’, and not like other words we commonly use.

Remember how iPod replaced the label MP3?  Have you noticed how iPad, Zoom and other words are jockeying to capture colloquial mindshare in the category of Tablet devices?

Is it still a Smartphone if you don’t use the phone?

What would you prefer to call it?  A smarter label defines the category, goes on to shape our thinking and, in turn, our consumer behavior.
  • If just a cell phone or an enhanced cell phone (building off one primary function), then ‘Smartphone’ continues to win.
  • If you successfully brand the product by its look and feel, then ‘tablet’ should remain the defining label in the future.  But notice if people call your non-Apple tablet device an iPad or if they call your iPad a tablet PC
  • If you succeed in branding to inspire aspiration and emotional appeal, then you’ll see ‘Droid’ (my Android, my robot) and ‘iPad’ (or my pad) continue to battle for the language of consumer behavior. 

So what do you call a mobile phone that isn’t used for mobile phone calls?  Surely a creative mind like yours can do better than “mobile device”.

Put your thinking caps on. You could be shaping the future!

Marc Sokol is an organizational psychologist with an eye for how people and teams can be more effective, even in a dysfunctional company. He is part of M Squared Group, a data-driven marketing consultancy. 

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1 comment:

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