The Pricelessness of Quality in Marketing
There are two kinds of products, for the purpose of this discussion. 1) The first kind of product is the one that thrives on perceived market value. While it has innate worth, its value is vastly inflated by marketing, perceived eliteness, and cultural perception. Think Beats headphones. 2) The other kind of product is built on quality, with little to know marketing involved. These are often “professional” products that people in-the-know buy. They tell their friends and these businesses endure as cottage industries for long periods of time. They don’t have the soaring heights of Beats, but they may survive longer. Think professional grade headphones that only nerds know about. They may be more expensive to produce, but the company doesn’t have huge marketing budgets to recoup in their pricing structure.
In order to make it, you have to be sort of like one or the other. If you think Beats headphones are going to be on the market, in their present form, one decade from now, you are probably wrong. Of course, there will probably be a Beats space station by then, knowing the business acumen associated with the brand. But the headphones money was hot and fast, all things considered. It came and it went (or is going). Youth culture still embraces it, but will pick another conspicuous consumer status symbol whenever it wants.
Meanwhile, you’ve got dozens of better headphones being produced by companies you have never heard of. If you were an audio engineer or some kind of stereophile, you would know. These companies exist in their own sphere. They don’t have mainstream, crossover success. But they don’t need it. They have their dedicated following. They can employ a stable number of people in stable positions for years and decades, quietly doing what they do at a high level of excellence. This is your Aten USA, your Grado Labs.
So which one are you?
Both product styles take a different marketing strategy. While Beats aren’t bad headphones, they certainly aren’t the best produced. But when the average person thinks “headphones”, they think “Beats”. This level of synonymity is the result of millions and millions of marketing dollars. Grado’s products have much better specs and construction, but nobody on the street knows about them. Still, they possess a kind of radiant desirability in their very construction. Simply put, they’re so freaking good, they sell themselves, but in much smaller quantities.
Your approach to marketing depends entirely on which one you are. And you need to sort of pick a side. Are you a world-dominating Zeitgeist product or a slow burning quality brand. If you are caught in the middle, you’ll have a much harder time making it in the long run, and your marketing efforts will pay off not so much.