Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Smartphones, Hypercompetition and Integrated Marketing Communication

Executive Summary: You are a second ranked player in a hypercompetitive market. You learn, from an independent research house, that your customers are more likely to buy your products than your competitors customers are likely to repurchase theirs. What do you do? Do you utilize this in your marketing communication? From the Desk of A-Kick-in-the-Shins-Does-Not-Always-Save-Nine. :-)

The Statistics

While looking at statistics toward structuring a perspective on industry trends, I came across an interesting study on customer loyalty for smartphones, where, even though the iPhone outperformed Android phones in NPS (Net Promoter Score- a Bain methodology) metrics, (marginally) more Android users are likely to buy a similar device, compared to the number of iPhone users' likely to repurchase an iPhone.

Waiddaminute? Did you read that right?

The Communication Opportunity

Given the hypercompetitive smartphone market, you would think the Android marketer has hit the jackpot. You can imagine Google Android folks rushing to their agency with a new brief to launch the next multichannel campaign (broadcast, web, etc.) in no time.

You can even imagine a few briefs ("Android users keep coming back for more") and a few advertisements:
1. Android user sees a store sign, "New Android Phone" and buys one, while iPhone users are shown getting their grip right for the iPhone, or,
2. Android user gets another Android phone as a birthday or a Valentine's Day gift, "I always wanted another Android", or,
3. Voice over wraps up with "Even when independent researchers praise the iPhone, they can't help but admit that more Android users are likely to buy another Android phone, than there are iPhone users willing to buy another iPhone."

... and many more!

Some Structure and Strategic Thought

The standard approach may be pretty simple in the abstract: Corporate Strategy -> Market Strategy -> Communications Strategy -> Portfolio of Communications Tactics. However, things aren't as straightforward in the "real world", are they?

If you were an Android marketer who finds this statistic, you would consider a few things, not necessarily in a top down, structured manner:

1. Source and quality of information:
Is the source and quality of information firmly in your corner? Well, you'll take a firmly independent corner too, wouldn't you? It’s more than just checking if your competitor can throw a more effective/ damaging response with the same source of information.

2. Timeframe: Does this lead to a "multi-period game" over advertising where you do not win, or you have no first mover advantage, or both parties end up in an expensive stalemate with a negative outcome for you? Coke vs. Pepsi advertising is an example. Also, think about Pepsi stepping back from Superbowl advertising in 2010.

3. Communication Themes: What is Android's driving theme for the season or for the year? What is Android's multi-year communication and branding strategy? Does this drop in the ocean create ripples that turn in tsunamis, or should this drop be assimilated quietly using different tactics?

4. Portfolio of Tactics: Does the Android team have a portfolio of tactics aligned with its communication and branding strategy? Does the portfolio explicitly accept or reject this opportunity?

Digging into the Details
Let’s dig into a couple of the items listed above.


Lets take one question- Do you think there are season spanning advantages to pushing the message? Here are some hypothetical situations that elaborate upon this. Say, it's the holiday season, and Android launches the campaign based on this research. Does Android have time to make an impact on sales? Does Apple have time to respond right away and nullify the advantage? Can Apple hit back harder around the same theme at the next key sales period?

The Source and Quality of Information:

The study, using the Net Promoter Score methodology, declares that the iPhone outperforms others in user loyalty:


Given the number of iPhone users that have stuck through a lot of thin (network, antenna, cracked case, etc.) this should not be surprising. However, as you scroll past the Net Promoter Score based results of Mobile Platform Loyalty Ranking graph, and down to Repurchase Behavior graph, you would note an interesting result.

89% of Google Android customers would buy a similar device in the future. Compare this to 85% of iPhone customers being willing to by an iPhone in the future.


Now, there are various perspectives to this:
  1. The iPhone has set very high expectations and is doing a fantastic job keeping its user engaged.
  2. Android targets a different customer segment than the iPhone and phone’s pricing could be a factor. (Perhaps not for long-http://www.pcworld.com/article/219712/cheaper_iphones_why_apple_might_risk_its_brand_identity.html)
  3. Also, iPhone’s AT&T exclusivity (for this study period) could be a factor in Android's stats.
We can come up with a few more as we think through this. However, what do you think?

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