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Eight reasons why Apple Watch will be successful

In Apple, brand-building, Fashion, innovation, iPhone, mobile & tablets, retail, Technology on April 12, 2015 at 2:54 pm

How will fans love thee?  Let us count the ways.

by Robert Liljenwall

8 apple watches1.  Apple relies on its existing customer base to drive initial sales on all new products.  Apple has sold over 500 million iPhones.  Their customers have the highest upgrade % of any comparable smart phone. As they say, the existing customer is the easiest and ‘cheapest’ to sell. If you own an Apple product, you have already received many emails about the Watch.  Apple knows how to mine it’s customer base, and they are uniquely successful at extracting money from their customer’s wallets.
2.  Apple customers are “discreet adopters”.  Apple never introduces a new device (think iPod, iPhone, iPad) that isn’t tested and performs at the highest level.  Apple is not the first to jump into the new product space — they take a wait/see approach, figure out how to do it better, and then fill in all the gaps and produce exquisitely designed devices that are superior in execution in all areas.  Samsung has given them a ‘run for their money’ but they’re perceived as a lower-tier product — certainly not on the same prestigious level with Apple, regardless of their performance.
3.  Apple’s customers are brand loyal.  They ‘believe’ and ‘trust’ just about everything Apple says about its products.  But these customers don’t just take Apple’s word for this — they know first hand that Apple products perform as expected, and they learn that their customer service is superior.  Yes, they pay more and are eager to do so, but they honestly believe their products are worth it.  For example, they know from experience how polite, courteous, and knowledgeable the ‘geniuses’ at the Genius Bar are.  And they love how they can ‘experiment’ and access all Apple products in their store.  All this builds their brand — they know that every contact they have with their customer is a solid building block for selling future products.
4.  Apple’s snob appeal.  Make no mistake about it — Apple is a luxury product.  They  never discount.  They don’t put on “sales” in Apple stores.  That Apple logo that shines brightly from your laptop in a Starbucks says this about you:  I have an Apple laptop….I paid top dollar for it….I am the kind of person who wants and needs the best…I am proud to be an Apple user.  Being an Apple user also says that you appreciate quality products and services because that’s the kind of person you are.  You want the best.  And wearing the new Apple Watch on your wrist for everyone to see will just be another way to express your commitment to the highest quality, the best.  In many ways, Apple users are tech snobs.  And they’re proud of it.
5.  Apple’s frenzied cult.  This brings us to:  Is Apple a cult?  Of course, it is.  It was always Steve Job’s vision to create the best computer in the world, the MacIntosh.  Then the iMac….then the MacBook…..iPod….iPhone. And now, Tim’s Watch.  Apple customers have been enraptured by the company’s products, its culture and position as a truly luxury brand, they have almost a blind passion for any new product.  They will ‘blindly’ buy their next new thing because  even if they may not need it, they want it.  This is based on customers wanting to always be “cool”, “chic”, tech-savvy, smart.  Apple customers believe so strongly in the Apple methods of inventing new things, they want desperately to be the owner of their latest invention.  It’s a sign that “I am truly a member of the one of most exclusive clubs in the world.”  I may not be able to join the country club, but I can own an Apple Watch and enhance my own brand at the same time.
Passionate Apple users also believe they truly own and depend on the best products in the world that makes their life better.  Apple is not a commodity — it’s the #1 brand in the world today (and the most valuable) that stands for something truly great — Superior Invention.  Superior Design.  Superior Innovation.  These are the common themes in the reviews we have seen on previous Apple products, and the Watch is no different this time around.
6.  Apple takes advantage of its market position.  They are not fools ….they can be arrogant for sure, but for the most part, it’s deserved arrogance.  They have earned, time again and again, the loyalty of their customers because they have delivered in the past.  Consequently, they rely on an established and proven methodology for creating and marketing new products that limits (or eliminates) failure.  There have been glitches — the antennae on the early iPhone was one — and the Apple Map app was a disaster.  Since Jobs created the first new Macs after his return to the company in 1996, their development and marketing process has essentially remained the same.  The only difference Jobs made the second time around was to open up the source code so they could extend their programming and offerings to users without having to spend the $$ on them.  Hence, there are over 1.2 million apps today for the iPhone and developers are now pushing for new apps for the Watch, although we doubt it will handle that many apps.
7.  Apple is the World’s Biggest Tease.  Think about it:  We have been teased about the Apple Watch for over a year.  This teaser campaign is perhaps the best marketing strategy ever created in the history of new product launches.  Nobody does it better.  Not even James Bond.  And what this does is create a “feeding frenzy”.  I asked a gentleman last night in a restaurant who was dining with his wife….they were both looking down at their iPhones — he had a 6, she had a 6 Plus (and proud of it).  I asked him if they ever talk at dinner anymore….they laughed.  Of course we do.  Are you getting an Apple Watch…she emphatically said “no.”  He, on the other hand, nodded ‘yes’, with a huge grin.  “Have to.  It’s my destiny.”  Think about that….his “destiny”?  Every brand marketer in the world wants this kind of customer loyalty.
8.  Apple is the ultimate creative force.  There is an old marketing adage:  The Creative Plan is the Marketing Plan.  I learned this while at Disneyland years ago.  Disney’s creative plan — designing and operating the world’s best outdoor attraction — was the reason for its success.  Not its marketing.  And what makes Apple’s marketing so effective is that their products are so damn gorgeous and work flawlessly (most of the time), they require less marketing than what their competitors must spend.  The brand extensions from Apple II to the Watch have proven winners every time.  Steve Jobs is responsible for building this creative culture.  And yes, he was a meanie.  He wasn’t always the nicest guy.  They got rid of him once.  But it was his devotion to creating the world’s ultimate products that serves today as their foundation for being the world #1 brand and most valuable company.  
 
With every new launch, Apple takes its brand equity for a spin.  They use this equity — tangible and intangible assets — to insure that their products are superior in every aspect of their design, function, and purpose, but more importantly, Apple hires the best “experts” in their field to guide the company down a new path — in this case, the watch business.  They recruit the best and brightest (“who can resist?”) from the world market and make sure that they pay attention to their cultural beliefs and practices at every turn.  They may, perhaps, stumble on the Watch launch, but for any company to take on such a mammoth undertaking in a whole new category — such as the tradition-bound watch business, there is no company better qualified to take this plunge than Apple.  They’re not betting their farm on this one product — but they are indeed dealing from a position of strength.  It’s a marvel to watch, pun intended.

Am I going to get the Watch?  Yes.  When?  Not sure.  I have gleaned myself from the frenzied rush to stand in line for hours or dial 17 times to reach an Apple order taker after the clock strikes Midnight.  I’m older now…and besides I have learned that, like with the Watch, I don’t really need it.  I want it.  And yes, it’s my destiny.

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The “Ultimate Selfie” — Hollywood’s Oscars at its best — Part 1

In Fashion, Video, Movies & Television on February 23, 2014 at 11:33 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

Hollywood is the best at self promotion — and the March 2 broadcast (NBC) will be one long “selfie” of how to create a major global event in honoring one’s self.  Make no mistake, the Academy Awards is an annual trek that all of Hollywood points to — sort of an Olympics held every year, not every four.

There are 25 Oscars being handed out during the three-hour broadcast and a new host this year — Ellen Degeneres, the popular day-time star on NBC.  In the audience will be all of the nominees, looking their finest after parading down the Red Carpet, which has now become a mini-show in itself — another “fashion selfie” where the emphasis is on “who” was the designer, plus who gets “best and worst dressed” awards from fashion “experts”.  Guys need not apply.

The Academy has nine movies up for Best Picture this year — American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street.  And of course, Meryl Streep (August: Orange County) is nominated, again, but Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) wasn’t.  Christian Bale and Amy Adams (American Hustle) are back again, as is Sandra Bullock (Gravity) and Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine).  The collective ‘wisdom’ is that 12 Years A Slave will be Best Picture, although Bruce Dern’s Nebraska gets a lot of support, too.  Gravity is also extremely popular with prognosticators, too. We shall see.

The “selfie” has now become a part of our daily lexicon — the ease of taking one’s picture and broadcasting it instantaneously across multiple platforms (Twitter, Facebook,YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.).  The only real challenge is to make sure your arms are long enough to do your “self” proud.  It does take some practice.

I’ll be watching.  Will you? – RJL

Part II — Post Selfie Awards coming Monday, March 3

3D Printing Poised to Reshape the Fashion Industry

In 3D Printing, brand-building, Fashion, New York Fashion Week on October 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Fashion Strategist Bob McKee Foresees 3D Fashion Flights of Fancy

by Jeff Sandgren

Melinda Looi design, realized by Belgium-based 3D Printer Materialise

Melinda Looi design, realized by Belgium-based
3D Printer Materialise

It’s easy to think of the fashion industry as innovative and agile, a perfect match for the rapidly-evolving world of 3D printing. All those ever-changing styles and designs – radical, elegant and everything in-between – surely these are the hallmarks of a culture that adapts to change at lightning speed. Fashion seems like a tailor-made 3D printing launchpad. To get the industry insider view, we checked in with Bob McKee, longtime fashion industry vet, currently Global Fashion Industry Strategy Director for Infor. We were in for some surprises.

“The fashion industry is historically slow to adopt new technologies,” said McKee. “We have changed very little since the industrialization of fabric manufacturing.”

McKee offered performance fabrics as a good example. These stretchy materials that practically define athletic fashion today are not a recent invention. They were created back in the 1940s; but it took the industry more than 30 years to adopt them at scale. Today stretch fabrics incorporate features that help them wick away moisture and provide anti-microbial surfaces. “Cotton apparel in workouts is history,” McKee noted. Some of the more forward-thinking adopters have chalked up significant successes. In the area of stretch fabrics, McKee cites Under Armour as an example. The company, formed relatively recently in 2006, just reported quarterly revenues of $455 million, a 23 percent increase over the same period in the prior year.

So how will 3D printing fare? The pace of adoption seems to be accelerating. Consumer-friendly design applications like AutoDesk have helped democratize graphic design by tapping into a far broader base of talent outside the traditional big-name design houses. And now 3D printing may be poised to be the next big thing in reshaping how clothes and accessories come to market – and the variety of forms they take once they get there. Examples were evident at the recent New York Fashion Week, where London-based designer Catherine Wales showed off her 3D printed ‘Project DNA’ collection of masks, futuristic corsets and helmets, and Kimberly Ovitz’s 3D printed jewelry commanded audience attention … and headlines.

3D printed Catherine Wales design

3D printed Catherine Wales design

Online design communities are going to play a key role, McKee pointed out. “Threadless.com is a great example in the 2D printing world. It’s a wonderful venue for frustrated graphic designers. But it still took time.”

Threadless was founded in 2000, as a hybrid design community and e-commerce site focused on tee shirts, where artists submitted designs, community members voted on their favorites, and the most popular were printed for sale. By 2004 it was printing new shirt designs every week; in 2008, Inc. magazine declared them the most innovative small company in America, with an estimated $30 million in sales. At last count the Threadless community included more than 2.4 million designers. “It’s not hard to imagine the same evolution with 3D fashion accessories and jewelry,” said McKee.

Indeed, such communities for 3D printing are already expanding, led by Shapeways (which earlier this year closed a $30 million Series C round of financing, led by Andreessen Horowitz), i.Materialize, Ponoko and Styleshapes. Like their graphic tees counterparts, these sites allow designers to upload their creations, and consumers to buy the material realizations. An added twist in this case, given the already proliferating population of consumer-grade 3D printers for home enthusiasts, is that the designs themselves are often the commodity. The trendy/techy consumer can get custom-made bangles without ever going to the store, or even the mailbox, as long as there’s enough thermoplastic in the print tank.

BrandTech News believes that co-creation and co-branding are fertile fields to till for innovative fashion brands in apparel, accessories and footwear. As McKee notes, “fashion is all about making a statement that differentiates us from the masses … even if we look like everyone else we like.” So will we see consumer goods bearing both a name brand look and logo and the personal emblems of hipsters and fashionistas?

“Brands are cautious,” noted McKee, “so I think it will come about, but slowly. It’s not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when.’ Consumers are driving the retail business, and they increasingly turn to brands and retailers who are creative and innovative. But brands have to figure out the right way to do it, preserving the brand essence while designing in personalization elements. You have to design the mold before you pour the gold.”

Fashion visionary Bob McKee

Fashion visionary Bob McKee

McKee even foresees a hybrid of graphic design and 3D printing in the development of the actual fabrics. He predicts that printing of synthetic fabrics on consumer-friendly (and relatively affordable) 3D printers is on the horizon. “You’ll see it within five years. Ten years from now it will be common to wear articles that we don’t even think twice about printing ourselves.”

Designers will continue to play a role. McKee posits that Vera Wang, Jimmy Choo and other edgy designers willing to experiment could well be early brand adopters. “Vera’s always a half step ahead,” said McKee. And celebrity emulation will be another powerful driver that leverages the agility of 3D printing. For consumers who want what their favorite celebs are wearing, 3D printing promises nearly instant gratification.

“We’re near the point,” said McKee “where you’ll see celebrities step onto the red carpet for the Emmy Awards and, before the ceremony is over, consumers will be ordering the apparel and accessories of their favorites.” – JTS

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