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Selasa, 05 Februari 2008

The Tipping Point 6

Chapter VI: Case Study – Rumors, Sneakers, and the Power of Translation

In the mid 1980’s, Airwalk started in San Diego making shoes for skateboarding, a.k.a. air walking. It had a niche market segment among cult skateboarders, worth 13 million revenue. In the early 1990’s, the owner changed course and wanted to broaden the products and the market, using active alternative life style concept. They hired a small ad agency, Lambesis. Its revenue surged from 1993’s 16 million to 1995’s 250 million revenue. In the mid 1990’s, Airwalk tipped.

Airwalk’s epidemic transmission cannot be separated from the role of Lambesis. A small ad agency, lambysis used an unusual kind of ads. The ads were always weird, funny, and inspiring. An example is that Airwalk shoes are used in head. Another is that an Airwalk shoe is used as a mirror by a girl to apply lipstick. The best one, often copied by other ads, is that an Airwalk shoe is used by a young boy to kill a spider, unsuccessfully in the ceiling up to a bed. In this last example, the camera movement is used to intrigue viewers with naughty perception.

The best way to explain how Airwalk tipped is by using the diffusion model, a model developed by Bruce Ryan and Neal Gross, 1930’s. They studied how a new superior corn seed was introduced in 1928, adopted by handful farmers in 1932-1933, and prevailing a few years later. The farmers were classified into innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Although the distance between early adopters and early majority seems to be little, there is actually a wide chasm between them. While early adopters tend to perceive risks in a positive way, early majority undoubtedly perceive risks as negative. To close the gap come the roles of connectors, mavens, and salesmen.

Connectors, mavens, and salesmen translate the language of innovators and early adopters into a common language that makes most emotional appeal to early majority. They tweak the innovation – the idea – a bit by changing the original idea into one more fit to the majority context. This kind of “distortion” is easily found in the spread of rumors that change along the way, becoming the “mainstream truth” however incorrect. The study of rumors shows that in the spread of rumors some translations typically happen. Usually some details are ignored or dropped, while other details are emphasized. The original story is distorted based on the gravity of the contextual social environment.

So, how did Airwalk specifically do? First, the company conducted a market research of what were the trends happening in the street. It then followed the suit and made ad campaigns in the context of pervasive trends. In other words, Airwalk piggybacked the already-happening trends. In order to do that, Airwalk’s market research focused on certain young cool kids, the trendsetters. Ms Gordon of Lambesis, an inspiring figure of Airwalk’s ad campaigns, was behind the epidemic. She took the role of a maven, a cool fashion maven. The ads as already mentioned above were then designed in such a way that they uniquely touched the market.

Finally, it should be mentioned also that to maintain an innovative epidemic, the innovation itself should be maintained so that the innovator and early adopter market always has something to diffuse to the mainstream market. Airwalk failed to do it. Consequently in 1999, Airwalk epidemic started to falter because it gave up all of its innovation to the mainstream without any new innovation being introduced.

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1 komentar:

Anonim mengatakan...

Браво, какие нужные слова..., отличная мысль


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