Case “Marketing Fluff” and Screen Protector Warranties

Case companies essentially only care about how many products they sell. If a company comes out with a case that is “drop rated” and “drop tested” then their cases will sell much better than other brands that do not have cases who can do this.  That is where the “marketing fluff” comes into play.

This term, “marketing fluff” is a term I got from a YouTuber, named Aaron Ho. His YouTube channel is called Mobile Reviews Eh and he bases everything he does on actual usage, and I highly recommend you check out his channel if you are interested in buying a new case or phone accessory.

What I am referring to as “marketing fluff” are the case companies who put things on the box like, “Drop Rated!” or “Best Drop Protection” even though the cases are not drop rated by the universal scale.

If a case is drop rated, this allows the price of the case to be increased highly because of the protection it will offer your phone. The niche market for this act of deception is people who are active and work outdoors where their phones can get hurt easily if dropped.

Aaron Ho actually proves the drop ability of the cases by conducting experiments and testing how durable the case is from different heights. This act of experimenting is essential to the entrepreneurial task of empathy. Aaron talks to the consumers and decides whether or not it is durable enough to buy.

Once the case is drop rated, or not, it is put into phone stores (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) and is sold to you, the consumer, after you purchase your phone. I mentioned in an earlier blog about how stores trap you into buying your overpriced case at the store immediately after purchasing your phone. When I bought my phone at the Verizon store, they offered me a screen protector to go along with the case, but this screen protector offer was different. They said it had a lifetime warranty.

The company offering this deal was Zagg and I honestly did not know whether it was a good or a bad thing that they were offering me this deal. Either they trust their product to not break, or they know that if I am able to buy the marked up price of this screen protector, I would sign up for the warranty (which ended up leading to hundreds of emails and promotional advertisements; not to mention the screen protector offers from Instagram and Facebook who are a part of the advertising market revenue business model).

As the consumer who felt as though they were being ripped off, I decided to go online to get the new screen protector I was promised if mine were to crack. As I got to the checkout, I was being charged $6.00 for shipping on a “free” warranty replacement. They marked up the initial price of the screen protector so that the next one I received would be free when in reality, it was $6.00 which is the same price as a brand new one from Amazon.

This category of revenue in the entrepreneurial world is known as Up-sell with High Margin Products. This type of revenue is achieved when the company takes a high margin item like a phone case, and they agree to bundle together or add-on low margin products like a screen protector.  The companies who make these products are purposely adding on low marginal products to the bundle to ensure that these items are being sold, and get a larger consumer base.

When you are asked to buy a case at the store, say no. When they ask you to bundle your items to “save some money”, say no. You are better off buying a new screen protector everytime yours breaks to be easier on your wallet and your phone.

The Beginning of The PopSockets and Creation Process

In addition to phone cases, phone accessories are just as prominent in the phone accessory market. When it comes to making your phone experience easier, there is one phone accessory in particular that gets the job done: PopSockets.

The brand, PopSockets, is a brand founded by David Barnett, “he was just a guy trying to keep his earbuds from tangling. A couple of buttons and some crazy glue later, he had the first PopSocket grip”(PopSockets.com). After David had his PopSocket prototype or MVP, he realized it could turn into something big. In Innovation and Entrepreneurship Class, we learned about the process of what needs to be done in order for a product to hit the open market. After 3 years of perfecting his idea, his product became what we see today on hundreds of thousands of phones across the United States.

There are certain people who go about life always looking to improve things around them; these people have an entrepreneurial mindset. David Barnett used creativity to come up with his idea of the PopSocket.  Creativity has many definitions, but the one used in Entrepreneurship is defined as the capacity to produce new ideas, insights, inventions, products, or artistic objects that are considered to be unique, useful, and of value to others (Entrepreneurship: The Practice and Mindset). Often, people come up with new inventions and ideas because they have faced that problem in their daily lives. Phones are becoming more and more necessary to social survival and since we are on our phone all day, making the experience more enjoyable and comfortable has potential to make big money and improve the lives of thousands. David saw a problem in his life, and instead of waiting for someone else to come up with a million dollar idea, he did it himself.

PopSockets are a brand that uses the highest quality material in order to ensure that consumers enjoy their experience with the products they purchase. But once a successful product hits the open market, there are many smaller organizations that recreate that product with very cheap materials. They then sell their product for less than the original business price in order to steal customers. The PopSocket Company went through a process known as the design thinking process. The first step in this process is the most important, in my opinion, and it is the step, empathy.  When the design team leaves their office to go out into the real world and ask consumers if they would use their product and what they would do to improve it, they are practicing empathy.

Empathy is composed of three steps: Observe, Engage, and Immerse. In order for a product to succeed, the consumer must want to purchase it. The company will go out of their office and observe the consumers using their product in their every day lives. They must interact with the consumer and interview them, asking what they would change, and if they would purchase one on their own. Immersing yourself into the situation your consumer underwent and experiencing what they experienced is one of the most important ways to figure out ways to improve your product going forward.

In my own personal experience, I heard about PopSockets from a friend in my economics class. Before class, he was reading an electronic news article on his phone while his phone was propped up in front of him, with nothing for it to rest against. After class, I immediately went back to my dorm, did some research on the product, and purchased a PopSocket online.  If one were to buy a PopSocket, I would recommend buying a PopSocket from the original website. In order to do see the difference between a real PopSocket and a fake PopSocket, I purchased a fake one for $4, and it was even much lower quality than the original brand. I have purchased one PopSocket phone mount from the real website and it has lasted me one year and counting. The quality is present in the build and will not be a waste of your money. The design thinking process that the PopSocket team went through to create their product was worth the extra money spent.

If anyone is looking to enter the phone accessory market whether they have already come up with their idea or not, remember that if you follow the steps provided in the post like the PopSocket Design Team did, you have a much greater chance to succeed in the phone accessory market. There is always room in this market for another creative product, and I would love to see what people will come up with in the future.

Sources:

In class textbook. Entrepreneurship: The Practice and Mindset by Heidi M. Neck, Christopher P. Neck, and Emma L. Murray.

https://www.popsockets.com/pages/promotional

https://www.popsockets.com/pages/about-us

The Best Ways for Case Brands to Be Succeed in the Phone Accessory Market

In this blog post, I will not be reviewing individual cases, but I will be reviewing the different partnerships made and actions taken by individual companies in order to enter and thrive in the phone accessory market.  While phone sales have been increasing decade after decade, so has the market for phone cases to protect those phones being sold.  “Mobile phone accessories revenues are expected to total US $66 billion in 2016, up from US $62 billion in 2015. Surging smartphone sales, especially in developing economies, coupled with the launch of new, technologically advanced accessories is driving the global market”(Future Market Insights). This market has been expanding and not just in the United States.  The prices charged in the US are far too high for everyone in the world to pay, so Asia, a developing country, jumped on the opportunity to use their low production costs to their advantage.

To consumers in the United States, these low prices are very appealing. For example, a standard case sold from China can be purchased on Amazon for about $5. A name brand case sold in the United States from the Verizon store costs anywhere from $30 to as much as $50 (excluding charging and waterproof cases). As you can see, these cases are highly overpriced but people still buy them.

When companies enter the phone accessory market, in order to be able to sell the cases at the marked up price, they partner with wireless phone companies to put sell them out of their stores. For example, Apple stores have a wall of phone cases in the back of case brands that have partnered with Apple for advertising.  This is the process people go through when buying a new phone and why this business tactic works so well:

You purchase the phone and if you just purchased it, that means that you do not have a case to protect it and since people’s lives revolve around their phone, they think that they must buy a case then and there in that moment. So, they decide to buy a case from the oh so convenient 7 story shelf of $40 cases right next to them.

The convenience this wall of cases provides masks the price of the case that is being bought by the consumer.  Even though these cases are marked up so high, they are being made for much cheaper in China. It seems as though in order for a case company to thrive, they must get their products in phone stores for the convenience of buyers that need them. Simple supply and demand.

This process increases the competition because a phone store can only hold so many brands on their shelves. I believe that the top rated case brands get priority over less popular brands but they just came out with Under Armour phone cases. Under Armour uses their target audience of athletes to sell their line of phone cases, “exclusively available at Verizon, the Under Armour Protect Series is the only case and mount collection built for the athlete and up to the challenge of the toughest workouts”(PopSugar). Under Armour has entered the phone accessory market because they know that if their apparel sells to athletes, they would want a phone case to be able to be alongside them in their fitness driven lifestyles.

With all of the marketing fluff that is presented to the consumer, it is hard to block out the temptation to purchase these overpriced cases for our phones.

Although the big companies are taking advantage of us and it would be amazing if we could put a dampener on their success, but the cases they make are much higher quality than the ones that are imported from China.

If you know you are going to buy a new phone, do a little research on what case you would like to have on it beforehand in order to keep your wallet from crying.  The case can still be a big name brand case, but I recommend not buying it at the store you purchase your phone because those prices are marked up from the already marked up price based on convenience.  I know there is an aspect of status quo for this process because everyone wants the new hottest case for their phone, but in reality, that doesn’t matter. The phone accessory market will always be growing as long as technological advancements are still being made, so there is no need to succumb to the temptation; In the end, just buy smarter.

Starting your own business would be easy if you import your products from China because the profit margin would be substantial. The tough route would be trying to create a partnership because that is where the safe and long-term money lies. A partnership with a large company gets your company name known by consumers who want to buy and provides income to your company. Although importing cheap cases from China and selling them in the United States would be easier, in the long run, your company will not last in the phone accessory market. Unless your product is unique and different, a partnership is the best way to get your business rolling.

Sources:

http://www.mynewsdesk.com/us/future-market-insights/pressreleases/5-key-trends-in-the-mobile-phone-accessories-market-1292553

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Under-Armour-Phone-Cases-43753767