September 18 | 2019

OVERHEARD: If the category is a kingdom, then who is the king?

Curated by: Niels Straatsma

“Sell more products.” When asking a client what the objective of their campaign brief is, there’s a good chance this will be the answer.

Big data can tell us a lot about who is likely and ready to buy the product, and by presenting them with the right proposition at the right time, it’s done!

But sometimes data doesn’t show us everything. Let’s pretend it’s 2001 and we’re selling iPods. Hardly anyone knows what an mp3 player is, let alone an iPod. Apple’s answer: “1000 songs in your pocket.” Who doesn’t want that? Remember, this is 2001. It’s not that Apple invented the mp3 player, or that there were no other mp3 players in the market. But it was Apple that took the effort to explain what an mp3 player is. And this is where it becomes interesting.

If today someone presented Nike+, it might never see the light of day. Data doesn’t support the hypothesis that if more people run more often, they will buy more Nike. Just more shoes, but the point is not to help competitors like Adidas. Yet, those campaigns made Apple and Nike, king of their category. And you bet they sold product.

This is not something only big brands can pull off. Before writing this blurp, I stumbled upon a podcast. It’s about a stay-at-home-mom, building an empire by owning her category. Patchwork in this case. It’s refreshing to hear her story of a small business, completely free of marketing lingo.

Listen to the podcast here.

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