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Iconic analog brands capture millennials with digital experiences

by Werner Goertz  |  January 25, 2019  |  Submit a Comment

When Leo Fender started his musical instruments company, the only digital thing was the ten fingers of players like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or Mark Knopfler. But today’s millennial buyers have difficulty relating to the twang of a Telecaster or the crunch of a Marshall stack. Even the most iconic of brands must evolve and provide experiences relevant to the digital age.

Fender Digital is an example of a company that reaches out to 21st century buyers through digital brand extensions: products, channels, and business models. All are designed to not only generate new revenue streams but also to perpetuate and validate the core business of its iconic brand. According to Fender Digital(1), although 45% of players each year are novices, 90% of these new players will lose interest within the first six months.

– Digital products such as online lessons, music creation tools and loops/backing tracks introduce new buyers to the Fender brand, even though they may not own a Stratocaster or a Fender amp.

– Influencer marketing (arguably invented by artist signature models in the analog world , e.g. the Fender Artist Series Eric Clapton Stratocaster) is now brought to digital marketing through artist and instructors offering lessons through Fender Play. This motivates and lowers the barriers to entry to new buyers and draws them to the brand ecosystem, even without an instrument purchase. Additionally, immersive, influencer ecosystems increase retention and positively impact the 90% dropout rate.

– A cloud and SaaS backend infrastructure that scales with demand spikes and moves CAPEX into OPEX is a crucial infrastructure requirement for digital brand extensions.

Regardless of whether your analog brand is in apparel, motorcycles, or dog food, you are not immune to your competition and your customers moving into the digital realm. Taking a look at Fender Digital’s best practices would be a good first step.

(1) “Fender turns cloud adoption up to 11”

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Werner Goertz
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
21 years IT Industry

Werner Goertz is a Research Director within Gartner's Personal Technnologies team, where he covers personal devices (smartphones, PCs/Ultrabooks, tablets/ultramobiles and wearables) and IoT. A special emphasis of his research lies in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and multimodal I/O technologies: voice/speech processing and recognition, facial recognition and eye tracking, biometrics and motion/gesture control. Read Full Bio

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