Under last year’s Christmas tree, there were several items that would have made Doc Brown green with envy. A pair of sunglasses that record videos and shares them wirelessly on Snapchat, a wifi-connected plastic button that lets you reorder household items by ecommerce giant Amazon, and Bluetooth-enabled parkas from PepsiCo, parent company of Pepsi, Frito-Lay and Tropicana.
So, is this the coming of a gadget apocalypse, as recently predicted in the The New York Times by Farhad Manjoo? Or will gadgets live on, as proposed by The Verge’s Ashley Carman? It seems to us that the latter will prevail and more and more of these gadgets, with high-visibility value, will enter the market. And here is why …
It is not so much that consumers will buy them, rather that the innovative gadgets’ value resides in the fact that consumers talk about them, a lot, in real life and on social media. Snap Inc. announced that it will release new gadgets and insists on being referred to as a camera company.
This does not change the fact that most of their revenue stream comes from advertising on Snapchat, not from the sale of their hardware products. The hype around Spectacles certainly contributed to increasing the interest of advertisers for the social media platform. Such gadgets are, in fact, designed and developed for brand promotion.
As marketers, we see great value in these brand promotions, in terms of brand image and reputability scores. They reflect the rat race for innovation that constantly pressures marketers and pushes us to cross a new frontier and step outside the boundaries of marketing territory into the zone of product development.
It seems to us that the boundary between marketing and product development will become increasingly permeable and require marketers to develop new skill sets and adjust processes within a company. Marketing is no longer at the end of the product development chain but has become inextricably wired into it from the start.