Attraction and Swag
Stop for a moment and look around your house. Think of all the things you recently purchased and think of the reasons why you purchased it. For example, I needed something that would cook my steaks evenly so I purchased a cast iron pan. I wanted to give my girlfriend a nice gift so I purchased a PINK POCKET KNIFE
All of these things, pans and knives, are in a tight and competitive industry where people are always trying to get more of the market than the next guy. A producer must try really hard to win over consumers–several million in ads hard.
None of this should be new to anyone who has been around business for a minute but, if we step back for a second, we will noticed that Apple is a little different: it produces stuff that no one asked for, that solve no problems, and, at the same time, people love to these novelties.
10 years ago, if you asked anyone if they wanted a device that is not quite a laptop and not quite a cellphone, what would they say? You can’t type on it like a laptop and you can’t make calls on it. It really doesn’t fulfill a real need.
Now, if you go ahead and make a product that people said they didn’t want or need, the product will most likely fail… unless you are Apple.
Even if you found out that people wanted it (but don’t need it), the product can still fail. For example, consumers told industry experts that, yes, they wanted 3D televisions at home. That was a few years ago and 3D televisions sales right now are terrible.
Don’t believe me that there are no needs for iPods, iPhones, and iPads? Before the iPod, there were still other music players that were small and portable. Before the iPhone, there were still cellphones and smartphones. Before the iPad there were phones, laptops, and tablets.
The need were already being fulfilled but, somehow, Apple launches a product and people realized that their regular MP3 player, phone, and laptop are now all obsolete.
So, how does Apple do it? Keynesian economics would shudder when I say this but people are not rational. People do not maximize utility all the time and, if we were 100% rational, wouldn’t learning things like math or physics be much easier?
In the non-rational part of humans resides things like love, hate, and attraction. It is in my firm belief that Apple sells its products based upon attraction. The design is cool, the UI is cool, even the packaging is cool. Remember back in the day when all headphones were black? Remember how cool those white headphones that came with iPods were?
Big business is taught in schools were logic and the scientific method reigns supreme. Things like attraction and swag are hard to study scientifically because it is very subjective. Attraction and swag are not learned in a lab but by personal experience. Don’t expect an academic to produce the next big thing but do expect a smart person with swag to.