Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Marketing Imitating Art

Just as life imitates art so does marketing. AdAge reports on this growing trend with different products, most popularly sneakers and cars. In fact, something like sneakers is such a popular art that social networks such as SneakerPlay have popped up around one's sneaker collection. (For the record, I am also a sneaker addict with about a dozen different pairs of sneakers.) Similarly the Toyota Scion has done a great job at being customized and thus a work of art in itself. To some degree, cell phones have also become a work of art (fashion) as well.

This being said, how can we capitalize on this as marketers? I think the first thing that we have to think of is WHY people do this? WHY do you want those shiny metallic purple sneakers? WHY do you want that lime green striped Scion? People want to be different, they want to be unique, they want to be recognized as individuals in this age of targeted marketing; the Long Tail. The more you allow someone to play with and customize the more control they want. We could go into a long discussion about iPods but I think that if Apple opened up not only the Apple architecture but also allowed for an infinite color palate of colors people would have multiple iPods for different occasions (my work out iPod, my going out iPod, etc).

Keep in mind that Products as Art only goes so far. Technical gadgets are the best candidate for this (laptops, cars), along with anything that you wear (cell phones, iPods, clothes (obviously)), and anything that you use that defines you (pens, tools, etc). Nike Plus created the wearable iPod with sleeves, sneakers and a whole line of clothing and sneakers that integrated the iPod with the rest of your running outfit. Putting gemstones on your phone was popularized by Paris Hilton but now its tough not to see at least a few people with these "pimped out" phones. Alienware took a commodity and made your desktop PC into your own. With technology we can create customized products for each individual and I think that soon people will expect this.

I think that the takeaway is that if you can customize your product with colors, designs or patterns (cosmetic changes), you should allow your consumers to do so via your website. Not only will they feel that this pattern is unique to them, they will become your brand advocate by integrating it into themselves as ART.

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