Beats by Dr Dre was founded in 2006 by Dr Dre and Jimmy Lovine (Beats by Dre, 2019). They wanted to bring something new to headphone category by emotionally connect people with music (Bulik, 2013; Wassef and Pirrie, 2017).
The brand is currently the top brand for headphone category in the U.S. For their global market, Beats has sold roughly around 70% (Wassef and Pirrie, 2017). Later, in 2014, the company was acquired by Apple inc (Garrahan, 2013).
Back in 2012, Beats felt that headphones market are becoming more homogeneous and boring. Therefore, they wanted to help people to express themselves by creating a new product of colourful headphones (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015). To help promoted their new product, they launched a campaign, #ShowYourColor. This campaign will be further evaluated in this essay using Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott’s strategic planning process.
2. Strategic Planning Process
2.1 Selecting Target Audience
Beats has the goal to stay loyal to their purpose, therefore they never repositioned their brand (Wassef and Pirrie, 2017). This reflected in their campaign by always targeting the same general, domain specific, and brand specific levels for their target audience (Antonides and Van Raaj, 1999; Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016). Including their #ShowYourColor campaign.
For the general level, Omar Johnson, Beats’ CMO, stated that millennials are their target audience (particularly those who aged between 16 – 24 years old) (Whiteside, 2015). They managed to successfully achieved their target market as in 2013, millennials are the dominant customers for their 31.6% sales in their U.S. headphones market (Baron and Brands, 2015). Also, because Beats headphones are a premium-priced brand (typically sold around $300), the target audience is preferred to be those with middle to high income (Martin, 2011).
Additionally, Beats was always wanted to make headphones as a part of lifestyle that people considered as cool to just wear headphones around their neck (Greenburg, 2018). In fact, people were buying Beats not because of the quality but because it is cool (Kleinman, 2014). Therefore, it only makes sense if they targeted those who are fashionable; those who prefer style more than quality can be the domain specific level target of Beats.
Target Audience of Beats
General Level Male/Females
16 – 24 years old, Millennials
Middle to High Class
Domain Specific Listen to a lot of music
Prefer style over quality
Brand Specific ‘I will buy Beats because it is cooler than other brands’
‘I am the fan of Dr Dre’
Table 1. Own’s Adaptation of Target Audience Group of Beats (Antonides and Van Raaij, 1999; Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016; Whiteside, 2015; Baron and Brands, 2015).
Since influencers, athletes or celebrity endorsements are highly used by Beats in almost all of their campaign (‘#ShowYourColor’ campaign included), for their brand specific levels, if they are the fans of Dr Dre or are the followers of many athletes and celebrities who are the influencers of Beats, they will be more loyal to the brand (Influencers are Key for Beats by Dre, 2015; Antonides and Van Raaij, 1999; Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016). A fan, will more likely to follow what their ‘opinion leaders’ (e.g. the influencers or celebrities) do, including using products that they endorsed (Kwon and Song, 2015).
2.2 Understanding Target Audience Decision Making
For their #ShowYourColor campaign, not only they wanted to generate sales, but they also wanted to emotionally connect people with music and help them express themselves. Therefore, to do this and having a successful positioning and communication strategy, it is essential for Beats to understand the target audience—millennials—decision making (Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016).
Millennials are a whole different generation in the society. Their expectations are different from the older generations, hence, businesses must figure out a way to engage with these millennials’ consumers (Barton, Fromm, and Egan, 2012). The actual product is not the main point of consideration for millennials when deciding to buy a product, the modern packaging is (Power, 2019).
Millennials are digital natives due to the heavy exposure of digital media (Prensky, 2001; Simoes and Gouveia, 2008). Social media is important for them, evidenced by 34% of millennials choose social media as one of their decision-making factors (Patal, 2017; Kernan, 2018). Social media stars are more pertinent compare to famous celebrities or athletes and their friends’ opinion matters more before deciding to purchase the product (Nielsen.com, 2017; Barton, Fromm, and Egan, 2012).
Millennials are divided into two values, attitude, and lifestyle: experiencers and strivers (Valentine and Power, 2013; Johnson, 2014). The experiencers type is more likely to spend their money on fashion, entertainment, and socializing also, love to do something that involve sports, exercise, and social activities.
Millennials are considered vital in helping music industry revitalizations. Furthermore, R&B and Hip-Hop are the most consumed genre and the leader of music industry’s revival. Dr Dre, one of Beats’ founder, is a Hip-Hop artist (Hale, 2019; Wassef and Pirrie, 2017) thus allowing Beats in an advantage position because their brand relates to their target market. When the choice is driven by emotion, it can overcome objective evidence and consequently influencing their consumer behaviour (Percy, Rosenbaum-Elliott, and Pervan, 2015).
Millennials Need arousal Identify possible options Evaluate options Purchase decision Post purchase evaluation
WHO Initiators: Self, Peers, Opinion Leaders (Celebrities, Athletes)
Peers, Opinion Leaders (Celebrities, Athletes), Social Media, Advertising, Word-of-Mouth, Store, Magazine. Influencers:
Other headphones brands, Opinion Leaders (Celebrities, Athletes), Social Media, Advertising, Word-of-Mouth, Store. Decider:
Other headphones brands, Opinion Leaders (Celebrities, Athletes), Social Media. Purchaser:
Self, Parent User:
HOW See endorsements by celebrities / adverts in social media.
Online and Offline Store
Talking with peers. Talk with peers.
Visit the store online/offline. Talk with peers.
Read online reviews.
Online or offline store. Tell peers about the product.
Post it on social media.
Table 2. Behavioural Sequence Model of Beats’ Target Audience (Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016; Percy, Rosenbaum-Elliott, and Pervan, 2015; Nielsen.com, 2017; Barton, Fromm, and Egan, 2012; Power, 2019).
2.3 Determining the Best Positioning
Helping and inspiring people to express themselves were the objective of their #ShowYourColor campaign which explains that Beats asserting more on the brand ideals rather than the benefit-positioning strategies since they address the users as their focus (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015; Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016).
Additionally, Beats emphasized their positioning by bringing fashion marketing to headphones as well as supplying world-class athletes and musicians with Beats headphones (Baron and Brands, 2015). These were also reflected in this campaign where they provided numerous athletes with headphones (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015).
Unlike Beats, competitors such as Bose and Seinnheiser, determined their positioning using product-benefit-oriented as they stressed more on the quality and the functional aspect of their products (Baron and Brands, 2015; Bose: Get Closer; 2017; Wassef and Pirrie, 2017). Price-wise, both Bose and Beats Electronics are positioned as a premium audio companies (Bose: Get Closer, 2017; Sanburn, 2013; Fields, 2014).
Figure 1. Perception Map of Beats and Competitors.
2.4 Developing a Communication Strategy
The communication goals for Beats #ShowYourColor campaign were to create a culture in sound, attract people with Beats’ audio quality, set a position for Beats within popular culture, and changing perceptions of headphones from merely functional to style (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015). These objectives directed to brand awareness, brand attitude, and brand purchase intention as they were aiming commercially to achieve 30% of holiday sales, 40% of the premium category (Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016; Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015).
Looking at their objectives and ambitions, we can conclude that Beats was aiming for a positive motivation which is social approval (Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016). Although Beats is not that risky of a product, regarding its involvement, Beats can be considered as a high involvement product due to the price of Beats that are generally expensive, the frequency of purchasing the product is not as frequent as buying food, and also Beats are a product that people can use as a self-expression (Kotler and Armstrong, 2008; Percy, Rosenbaum-Elliott, and Pervan, 2015). Accordingly, Beats is a high-involvement transformational brand (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Brand Attitude Grid of Beats (Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016).
To achieve their objective, Beats encouraged people to express themselves through colour (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015). For a high-involvement transformational brand, it is suggested for the target audience to be personally identify with the brand (Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016). Beats did this by inviting people to join their movement in taking a photo with Beats’ headphone, type in the word that suits them best, and then pick the colour of their choice (See Picture 1) (Rga.com, 2019).
Beats wanted to move “at the speed of Culture”. Culture for them is sports, music, fashion, art, and entertainment, hence #ShowYourColor launched amidst London 2012 Summer Olympics (Influencers are Key For Beats by Dre, 2015; Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015).
Picture 1. Beats #ShowYourColor photo (Rga.com, 2019).
2.5 Setting a Media Strategy
For the media strategy, several media channels suitable to be used for brand awareness and brand attitude objectives are identified (Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016). However, for this campaign, Beats did a direct matching in selecting the media as they appeared to rely more on digital media which said to be the media that works well regardless the objectives (Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016). Besides, Beats target audiences are the generation that use internet and digital media the most; 97% of them use Facebook and 45% are on Twitter (Mitchell, 2012).
By using Facebook, Beats enables the user to generate their own iconography without having to visit the offline booths (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015).
Picture 2. #ShowYourColor Facebook (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015)
Furthermore, Beats set up a photobooth near the arena and invited athletes to take the photo and share it in their social media (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015). This method seemed to have worked as there were athletes who participated in their campaign (See Picture 3).
Picture 3. Nathan French’s tweet about Beats #ShowYourColor (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015).
Moreover, Beats sent their headphones to the athletes that participated in the 2012 Olympics and hoping that one of those athletes will wear it during their competition (Sweney, 2012; Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015). Despite the fact that this marketing technique caused controversy as it was breaking endorsements rules (Sandoval, 2012), there were still athletes that wore them during competitions (see picture 4).
Picture 4. Athletes who wear Beats During Their Competition (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors; 2015)
As the campaign getting bigger, they expanded it to New York and decided to take a different approach by using posters of fan-generated iconography in Times Square as their media vehicle which worked on high-involvement transformational brand (Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016; Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015).
Picture 4. #ShowYourColor Fan-Iconography posters in Times Square, New York (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015)
#ShowYourColor was successfully redefining headphones category into a piece of self-expression, growing their Facebook fans to 1.7 million, also their Instagram followers and YouTube subscribers increased by 76% and 57% respectively (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015; Rga.com, 2019). Sales-wise, they acquired 80% of the premium headphone sales in the U.S. during the holiday season in 2012 (Beats by Dre: Beats Colors, 2015; Rga.com, 2019). Consequently, in 2012, Beats’ revenue raised by $221 million (Garrahan, 2013).
This was not only because Beats followed the strategic planning process (Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2016), but also due to their ability to understand their target audiences well and conducted a relevant campaign that matches their goals and market. It is recommended for Beats to keep using influencers and viral marketing to execute their campaign, especially with the help of digital media, as it can help them emotionally connect with their audience and generate buzz for their brand (Eckler and Rogers, 2010; Olenski, 2015).