Byravee Iyer
Jul 24, 2014

Sennheiser tries a new way to create noise

SINGAPORE - Sennheiser, the maker of premium headphones, is taking its product directly to the ears of its target consumers here by partnering with 24 cafés and bars to engage with “trendsetters” in the places they frequent.

Sennheiser creates café demo opportunities
Sennheiser creates café demo opportunities

The campaign for the Momentum line of headphones combines traditional and digital campaign branding with placement of demo units in the café locations, plus a loyalty-reward element and pop-up stores.

The ‘Places with Momentum’ campaign is said to have cost the company a six-figure sum (Singapore dollars) and runs parallel to a global initiative that features music artists sharing their unique stories.

Ng Chee Soon, president of Sennheiser Electronic Asia, highlighted four key elements to the six-month campaign. The first is to persuade the firm’s target audience—people from 18 to the mid-30s—to demo the product in these places. Customers are then encouraged to explore the network of cafés the company has tied up with to secure loyalty stamps and a chance to win Sennheiser goodies. The firm has also placed pop-up stores at some of the cafés (although it has yet to make a sale). Finally, the audio company has established activation centres across the city where people are encouraged to take part in a Momentum challenge to win prizes. Sennheiser is promoting the campaign via bus and cinema advertising.

Ng said the company opted for an unconventional approach to brand marketing in an attempt to be different. “There are over 100 brands in the headphones category today,” he said, noting that point-of-sales, traditional advertisements and programmes are quite common. “We wanted to rise above the noise and be different while engaging people within their lifestyles.”

Indeed, on the marketing front, a number of brands tend to collaborate with celebrities or fashion lines. The herd effect is especially evident when celebrities with mass appeal trigger the following of a particular brand, Campaign Asia-Pacific has previously reported on how Beats by Dre has embraced this tactic, linking with global sports and music stars such as Cesc Fabregas, LeBron James, Will.i.am and Nicole Scherzinger. That popular brand also associates with events such as the Mnet Asian Music Awards and with clothing labels popular among its target audience. 

Ng said the other reason to embark on the differentiated path is to be seen as a trendy brand that people want to be associated with. “It’s one of the best ways to reach out to these young hipsters and to be more synonymous with this group of people and hopefully over time build affinity with the brand itself.”

It is clear the market has moved on from when consumers were satisfied with the free earbuds that came with their latest phone or portable music player. According to GfK, this trend generated sales of more than US$77 million in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia in 2013. Recent figures also show that Hong Kong people spent more than $10 million on headphones, headsets and mini-speakers in the past 12 months. 

The explosion in smartphone usage across the region is fuelling growth. This area has become more specialised with distinct products now available to better serve consumers’ lifestyle activities such as sport, travel and entertainment.

Sennheiser sells products that range in price from $30 to $2000. Ng claims that latest industry estimates indicate that the total market size of the headphone category has shrunk, while Sennheiser’s share has grown. The brand ranks among the top three in brand affinity, according to its own research.

For Sennheiser, Singapore, although small, is a flagship market because it is a “trendsetter” for the region. So launching a campaign and spending significant marketing dollars was a no brainer. Korea and Indonesia are also attractive markets for the audio company.

The German company launched its first regional campaign targeting Southeast Asia, Korea and certain parts of the Indian subcontinent in 2012. Titled ‘Pursuit of perfect sound’, the campaign features DJs, rock bands and aspiring singers in a series of videos, striving for sound perfection. Both campaigns were handled by Singapore agency ed&c. 

 

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