I am an engineer.. I realised from somewhere around the middle of high school that I wanted to be an engineer. It is something about the way I think and the way I look at the world that makes me an engineer. Which is different from a physicist, a computer scientist an arts major, and most importantly a marketer.
Aaay yes. The bane of engineers lives are marketing. We build. We design. We create. Marketing sells. Marketing decides what people want. Marketing tells people what they want. Marketing creates desire where there is none. Although it is kind of a symbiotic relationship (they need to sell what we build) there is a tendency for the relationship to be that of an old married couple who never really liked each other all that much to begin with.
I however find marketing amusing. It fascinating to watch and makes for an interesting anthropological study of the human condition. Take fashion for example. It is almost the ultimate in marketing. It adds little value, it sells a product (us), creates a desire where their shouldnâ€™t be one. It is a case of the marketing becoming the product itself. As a result we have had some truly atrocious fashions (the 80â€™s, the skirts and trousers thing, big gold hoop earrings, Speedos) where you wonder if the industry is just having a laugh.
The music industry, especially in the â€ślets sell happy pop or depression to teenagersâ€ť variety is another one where the marketing has become the product almost. Anyone remember Tiffany?
So it with much amusement that I find a new Microsoft mouse available yesterday when I went to their website to download drivers. Except its not really a new mouse. Itâ€™s really the same old mouse. But blue. I can see the board meet now.
guy 1We are not selling enough mice
guy 2How can we sell more mice
guy 1Why donâ€™t we try selling the same mouse to people who already have one
guy 2Who is going to buy the same mouse twice? No one is that stupid. How would we do that?
guy 1I know, lets make it blue
guy 2You are a marketing genius. Let me worship you
It is an old marketing trick. When a product is not selling that well, change the colour and resell it. Worked for imac. People like the illusion of choice (only two imac colours where actually popular but they sold more due to the illusion of choice). People like the illusion that they have a newer (and therefore better) model than other people. If you really want to make money, then you need to be able to sell the same product to the same people over and over again. The football teams do it here really well. Each season they bring out a new kit that is generally marginally different from the old one. In fact they bring out four new kits (2 home, 2 away) and sell them to the same people who bought them year before. And the year before that.
As much as I hate marketing, I have to admire their brilliance sometimes. Or recognise that they are probably responsibly for the decay of society as we know and will be first against the wall come the revolution. If only â€¦.