Personal electronics have long offered a future distant but near that promises the resolution of our greatest woes and predicaments. Yet underlying the messaging of technology products lay a number of misconceptions that ultimately fail to meet the needs of the consumers. The gospel offers alternatives to the current conventional technology marketing tackling head-on the limitations of technology while also recognizing its potential and ultimately pointing back to the ultimate source of innovations and creativity. Ready to take the lead in your industry's marketing strategy? Contact us today for a free consultation to become the market leader.

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Take one marketing initiative and analyze the longings and desires it's looking to serve in people. Marketers are challenged to address these needs and longings in a deeper way that speaks to these aspirations and goals.

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Executive Summary

  • Technology promises to solve almost all of our problems, this isn't true and is a misconception consumers hold
  • Smartphone phones offer the allure of personal branding and identification whereas the downside is that consumers become disenchanted and ultimately fall out of love with the brand
  • Smart phone marketing could benefit from identifying and pointing people back to relationships as a central theme of the gospel
  • Personal computers offer the latest and greatest yet fails to ultimately tell the story behind the technology, which is what marketers aren't doing to tell the story
  • Personal electronics marketers should cautiously analyze their products limitations and potential to better shape and define a gospel marketing message that lasts the test of time, or the next product launch

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Consumer Electronics Marketing Kind of like the Cereal Aisle

Consumer electronics is a part of every professional's life now and one of the most contested battlegrounds for consumer electronics is the smartphone market. With its ebbs and flows every year, billions of new devices reach new hands and attract the attention of an endless number of eyes and ears. In fact, the industry moves so quickly that there are often one or two new product introductions each year from smart phones to laptop computers. Here are some of the top 5 smart phone commercials to get us started on the topic.



Conventional Consumer Electronics  Marketing is about the Promise of A Better Future

Personal electronics offers the allure of the untapped efficiency and productivity of the future if you have the latest model or version. Marketing has also made impressive feats in articulating this feature in bringing out the best and brightest in people. At times the industry itself seemingly whispers the fact that advancement and technology should come first before people, communities, and relationships.

Theme: Your Choice of Smart Phone Influences who you are

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People are making assumptions about who we are based on what we drink, buy, wear, and sometimes where we app. Smart phones have begun to define people because it's the device that is the bridge to your personal network, online identity, and calendar. Marketers have begun to take note and a number of advertising campaigns now shape and enforce this image. The phone is so much more than an impersonal appliance. It's something that you carry with you and shapes your day. Cue the uncomfortable feeling when your phone runs out of battery and you feel disconnected from the world. This theme around a product as a factor in our identity isn't exclusive to the electronics or smartphone industry but has noticeable limitations.

The Dilemma with the "Define yourself with a Smart Phone" Marketing

Here are some common dilemmas when touting the themes of smart phones and self-definition:

  • You're only as good as your latest gadget: many people will inevitably fall behind from the latest technologies, it means that your consumers will feel some how less if they don't have your latest gadget. For business this is great but for consumers maybe this isn't the ideal messaging.
  • It causes smartphone snobbery: whether you're for Apple or pro Windows phone or a crusader for another electronics brand, individuals seem to be slightly antagonized towards one another. This is due to many of the camps subtly jabbing at each other in commercial and advertisements. 
  • It reinforces consumerism and seeps into our relationships: this tends to seep into other areas of life meaning customers are appraising every relationship they have from a utility perspective, if there isn't value or utility to me then like my phone I can cast it off. Yet some relationships aren't conditioned to be treating contractually and the challenge is that consumers will inevitably and sometimes unknowingly apply these conventions to their own lives.
  • A great phone means a great life: another genre of commercials is people who are enjoying life with their smartphone. The challenge with this is that people do practice this in real life and smart phones have gotten the way of personal relationships and life rather than add to it. One familiar scene is seeing a group of people at dinner and everyone is on their smart phone. That is because the smart phone has been marketed as where life happens but the true moments of life itself often times are being missed.

Consumer electronics marketing causes a great deal of buzz and is indicative of some of the underlying cultural norms and conventions we hold dear. In our technology enabled world, there are lingering traces of the industrial era where progress and advancement are paramount. Yet marketing in this as we've seen is detrimental to people and their social circles.

Alternative Marketing Messaging

These are the key alternatives to consumer electronics and how they can market to people in a more balanced and sustainable way.

  • Technology with balance: studies have shown that over use of smartphones have degraded individual's health. Technology with inherent features that help individuals curtail their use would be a defining moment in tech. Where we recognize that our lives, both physical and digital, are integrated and requires proper limits and boundaries. The implication of the gospel is that anything, even inherently good things like smartphones or electronics can and often consumes us.
  • Bringing People Along for the Ride: who you bring along for life and daily events matter. Relationships matter and electronics marketers should carefully consider how their product adds to the relationships and connections for their consumers. One messaging electronic consumers is to point people back to relationships be it friendship, marriage, or family. One of the themes of the gospel's implications is that relationships are being redeemed in the way that we are to care for one another even when it means tough love. Consumer electronics marketing may very well be vitalized by breathing new narratives on how phones can help you take care of those around you.
  • Keep us Accountable but be Gracious: fast food retailers should be accountable but can also serve consumers by not placing the same stress or relationships like marriage and friendships under the contractual lens. Relationships are organic and placing contractual restrictions takes away from the long-term well being of the people that restaurants serve.

Here is an example of Samsung taking the theme of bringing people along for the ride in helping to foster relationships in this commercial


Theme: Personal Computing and the Endless Pursuit for Thinner, Faster, and more Features

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Technological advancement is often hailed as the solution to many of our social and economic woes, some even go as far to say: technology as our planet's last best hope. Take the hope and allure of start ups: at its core, it is the dream of creating great technology that transforms how life and business is done. Marketing also points to this narrative that technology can get you closer to a certain unreachable utopia. Take for example the motif of great technology leads to better and more fulfilling lives. One of the best gifts technology has given cities around the world is advancement yet when progress is placed above all other things, it becomes a compromise to the right and well being of people. Technology holds much promise for the future but without direction and a narrative grounded in the gospel it remains, the implication unless that is the case is that technological advancement may supersede human well-being.

Drawbacks on Thinner, Faster, and more Bells and Whistles

Progress and advancement are widely accepted in many cultural circles, especially in the west. Yet there are some that are skeptical of the direction technology is heading to without the right purpose and drivers behind it. Vivek Sood, Managing Director from Global Supply Chain group likened to technology without purpose is like a missile without a guidance system. This will often trigger most people to define a meaningful and altruistic vision yet without recognizing the human factor there remains insufficient boundaries required to truly harness technology for its potential and reduce its capacity for harm. Here are the limitations to messaging technology as the ultimate ends rather than recognizing it as a means.

  • Computing advancement before people: industry marketers feature their technology as the latest and greatest not showcasing the sacrifices and people behind the technological feats. It misses out the story behind the great leap forward and simply focuses on the result. In which every year each company in the laptop or PC markets has new features to sell. This begins to crowd out brands leaving the experience akin to the cereal market aisle.
  • Productivity and creativity are in the technology not people: placing faith in technology is something we commonly do, often which without even considering it. A myriad of marketing goes towards computers to provide the next level of personal productivity or an unparalleled experience. Yet ultimately these things fall short because it's only a matter of time before a new model comes out. The messaging seems to convey that technology completes us rather than the other way around. The challenge here is that when the hype wears off will this create greater brand loyalty or disenchantment.
  • A new computer as a portal to a better life: personal computers often are marketed as a gateway to a better future. Yet some of the most challenging issues in people's on-going circumstances require more than just a new piece of technology but a hard look at life and the real root causes to these issues. People find it easier to place faith in things that aren't tangible and don't really solve their problems but to market this way creates a challenging hype cycle that eventually leaves people less enchanted about technology brands.

One of the major orthodoxies in technology is that it is the destination rather than the means. This is a difficult truth to accept even as a trained and practicing technologist. Yet the challenge is that at the end of every piece of technology be it computer, smart phone, or your gadget is a human. Technology was made for people, not the other way around. Nowhere more than within the narrative of the Bible show that good things, like technology, can distort and mar human thriving. The full unfettered embrace of technology ironically leads to less human flourishing. How then would a marketer position their product, recognizing that there are inherent limitations to technology no matter how far down Moore's curve we find ourselves.

Alternative Marketing Messaging to Thinner, Faster, and More Powerful

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Electronics marketers can consider the following themes when marketing technology that better addresses the gaps recognized in this traditional theme of bigger and faster unceasingly.

  • Tell the Story and People Behind the Technology: marketers have an unprecedented opportunity to share the lore and wonder of the stories and people behind the product. It provides real tangible cases in which creativity, productivity, and grit created a machine. It recognizes the tandem in which technology and great people need to work together. People who purchase can be part of that story. The gospel points us to this narrative because humanity and progress itself is an implication of the biblical story line. That progress and innovation had an unfortunate hiccup but in the present and the future holds endless possibilities for discovery and advancement not marred by politics and resource depletion.
  • Showcase where creativity really comes from: the eureka moment sneaks up on us and to say we control the drop of innovation that shows up is often an assuming proposition. The Bible explains innovation and creativity itself, that out of nothing God created everything. Everything since then is inspired work from the inception in which God creates creativity. Can product makers showcase their heritage and lineage towards the source of creativity and ingenuity itself, most definitely and will help consumers have a more balanced view of creativity and productivity.
  • Show the nuances of life and why things aren't the way they should be - the gospel offers the most balanced perspective on life and why things aren't the way they ought to be. Even though they ought to have never been seen. A computer that is designed for the grit of life and the joys of life is probably a product that can surpass any one product that only encompasses one or the other. Marketers can offer a perspective to buyers that life is marred by disappointment but there are things they can do and that ultimately for those who recognize that they are part of the problem in the world, the healing and reversal of the woes of the world both personally and corporately can begin.

Personal computing has made leaps and bounds over the years and is considered a central personal item. Technology inherently offers a better future but without a worldview and marketing messaging that supports a balanced perspective of life, we've also seen technology do heinous things and decimate lives and communities. Marketers should be aware of the underlying issues their customers face, if they truly seek to better the well-being of the people they serve. Marketers do consumers a great favour by recognizing its role and also its limitations.


Gospel Implications Provides Abundant Possibilities into Marketing Personal Electronics

We've seen how technology in itself can be a consuming end rather than a means. For some, this is so second nature because of the field of work they come from or their academic and cultural posture. Yet we've also seen the harm technology can cause, from creating addictions to causing social fragmentation with peers and those around us. Marketing has considerable influence into a culture and these themes are also carried through even in everyday items like personal electronics.

The gospel provides an ability to recognize technology for it's potential and that inherently holds great potential for good. Yet it also recognizes the wielder of technology as both inevitably flawed but also has great potential because of their inherent status as an image bearer of God. The gospel resolves these tensions with the allure of technology and its flaws by addressing our deepest longings and desires. Take longings of people for affirmation and intimacy, the gospel narrative of Christ who loses his greatest source of affirmation and intimacy by being rejected by God on the cross. Christ loses the absolute affirmation and intimacy he had so that we could have it instead. This is the story of self-sacrifice and one that continues to rivet through some of the best stories we hold dear. Stories like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Yet the central figure of the gospel, Christ, doesn't just win one battle, as we've explored in other areas. He wins all the battles that matter for us despite seemingly losing on the cross. In that way, the gospel has helped unlock a new possibility in interacting with technology one which involves personal choice and freedom to inquire. 

Faith-based marketing is an approach to help companies reach audiences on a deeper level, helping to establish and position brands into a new stratosphere of recognition and appreciation for consumers and their humanity, including their strengths, limitations, and unseen potential. Here are steps to helping uncover alternative and disruptive marketing messaging that hits home:

  • Identify the values of current marketing efforts
  • Analyze these values and the aspirations that they are addressing
  • Go deeper and understand alternatives to meeting these expectations and desires
  • Provide alternative messaging to address these issues
  • Review messaging to see if it dehumanizes or celebrates a person and community's richness
  • Elaborate on messaging and further demonstrate how it addresses desires and aspirations for the demographic

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