A few years ago, Apple redefined the parameters of advertising a product. Not only does a product need to be functional, but it also needs to be convenient, personal, and beautiful. Those are no longer added bonuses - they are defined as a necessity. After all, the products you use become part of your image; therefore, they should complement and compliment you. You don't want something perfectly functional that doesn't also look good sitting on your desk, do you?
Consumers no longer see a sign, make a phone call, and patronize a business that can serve their needs. In an oversimplified sense, this may still describe a small percentage of business activity. But years of thriving economic conditions have made changes to our perception of needs and wants. It's not unusual for consumers to browse shopping malls, online websites, and even Facebook with a subtle inclination to impulse buy. Looking for someone to tell them what they want (or better yet, what they need), consumers are open (and have become accustomed) to powerful marketing messages that suggest where that "extra" money should go. Apple was one of the first companies to capitalize on a changing consumer mindset, and gave it a boost to a new level when they rolled out all the "I"s. It's not a "youPad" or a "wePod." It's a fashionable, necessary accessory that links you to the top bracket of the consumer crowd. "iPhone" - do you? You must - it fits your needs. Whatever they are - it fits them. Functional? Of course, but that's not where the real value lies. Doesn't it look slick? You need one. You're slick, too. Everything about you should say "slick." Are you listening to me? You should. I'm slick. iPad.
Cue a new consumer reality. Suddenly needs and functionalities are on the same par as wants and extras. In fact, they sometimes fall behind. Don't waste your money on something that satisfies your needs. Spend it when you can have your cake, eat it, get the solid silver plate, and have your teeth (and your friend's teeth) cleaned afterward. Why settle for just cake? That doesn't do anything for you, does it? Peripheral advantages - that's what you really need. Cake is just cake. My cake will make you a star. Isn't that what is most important, after all?
It's a definitive shift in advertising structures and schemes. No longer can businesses expect that because they put up their shingle people will come running to buy their product or service. In fact, it can be detrimental to a business if this is the extent of their marketing. It's not about you providing a service or product - however good it is. It's about delivering it in a gold package, in a surprisingly good timeframe, with bells attached and ideally a self-softening ingredient that will automatically soothe the skin of the consumer when they open it. Value in your product? It's there - right under the big red bow.
Advertising - it's no longer just putting up a sign. It's not just the value of your product or service - it's how you deliver it. It's how you follow up with it. It's how well you center the consumer in your processes. Put an "I" in it, if you can.