Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Sony’s Music Unlimited vs Spotify: the Battle for Streaming takes off

Sony’s release of its Apple (iOS) compatible Music Unlimited streaming service, intended to challenge Spotify’s iPhone app, is a natural and welcome step in line with changing customer music needs and behaviours. Streaming is the future for all forms of digital entertainment, and music is leading the charge.

But I think Sony is missing a trick here. They offer two subscription packages: $3.99/month for listening to pre-determined channels (radio-style?) and $9.99 for access to Sony’s music library consisting of 15 million songs. Spotify’s catalogue has long surpassed 15 million, but more importantly, there is no clear incentive for any one customer group to switch to Music Unlimited.

As I have argued before, Spotify’s finest trick was to get people hooked in the first place by offering free music access. Consumers do not appreciate the value of technological innovation until they’ve tried it themselves. There are high barriers to adoption in place, and only a truly motivating and appealing incentive will push people to give new technology a go – and therefore fully experience the benefits that innovation offers.

Sony is not offering any such incentive. There is no free service to get customers to buy in, so Music Unlimited will struggle to convert iTunes/CD people to streaming. And for those of us who are with Spotify – well, there are no clear benefits to switching. And switching is a pain in itself.

One thing’s for sure: the Battle of Streaming has only just begun.
Sony's Music Unlimited

Monday, 21 May 2012

Gaymers’ New Look: of Cider, Festivals and Branding Different

I love Gaymers. It transcends my two great passions in life – cider and festivals. It's synonymous with brilliant music, muddy wellies and frolicking in the sunshine. In the competitive cider market where virtually identical brands vie for the attention of young urban professionals their strategy of branding around music and bringing it to life through festivals is a stroke of genius.

Their packaging re-launch is yet one more step in that direction. It's a clear move away from the visual cues associated with ‘standard’ ciders such as Magners and Bulmers (see below) such as the bottle shape, gold label, focus on provenance and ‘originality.’ (N.B. Can anyone actually tell them apart?) 
Gaymers’ new look is clearly influenced by visual styles and emerging cultural codes associated with festivals. The bright block colours and playful retro typography come up time and again in the likes of Bestival and Lovebox and thus help position Gaymers as an affiliate of the liberal outdoor music culture. By comparison, the ‘standard’ cider look begins to feel formal and stuffy with their carefully crafted ‘signed’ labels.
When everyone talks about originality, it stops being original. The introduction of Stella’s Cidre brought a welcome shake-up to the category and drove many estbalished cider brands (including Magners) towards premiumisation. Gaymers have recently been hit by this trend as they were stuck in the middle, but the current move is a clever competitive response which should hopefully grow not just their sales but the cider category in general. I, for one, am really excited.