Does marketing even matter to the general consumer anymore?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| July 18, 2011

Name brand goes a long way. For anything on this planet that’s sold, it’s about the brand behind the name. Whether you’re someone who likes small companies, or you prefer the name of a huge brand, that name goes a long way for someone looking to buy a new product. The companies know this, and that’s one of the reasons why they pump so much money and marketing into their brand, so that when someone thinks “phone,” that company’s name comes up in the conversation at some point or another. But, it seems to me more and more companies are letting their marketing work for nothing, as retailers (and subsequently, consumers) aren’t getting the full message.

Recently, I was going through a few electronics retailers in my local area, taking a look at the products they had on the shelves. While my eyes were looking at all the shiny things, I eventually made my way over to the tablet section (as I often do), and started messing around with the few they had on show. There were a few there, like the HTC Flyer, the BlackBerry PlayBook and one tablet from Huawei. Obviously Android is a big player in the tablet market, and while the Flyer is new enough that it warranted my attention for a short time, the PlayBook had most of my attention while I was in the section.

That is, until I looked down at the piece of paper sitting there, telling me all about the PlayBook. I read through the specifics, nodding along as I went. Until I came across “Featuring Blackberry Tablet OS.” And that’s where I stopped. It took me a moment to realize that Research In Motion isn’t actually promoting their QNX Software, which is the real source of that “tablet OS,” and that actually made me a little bit sad. That would be like Google promoting Honeycomb, but completely overlooking the fact that Android is the real power behind the system.

After I saw that, I looked over the piece of paper and I couldn’t actually find anywhere that said that the BlackBerry PlayBook was from RIM, and that just defeats the whole purpose, in my opinion. Research In Motion isn’t doing enough to make their name present here in the States. It’s BlackBerry, not RIM, and that’s not good.

But, that’s not it. I finally found an HP TouchPad, the company’s first webOS-based tablet. Now, this one isn’t really a big deal for the majority of consumers out there, but it’s a huge pet peeve of mine. On the paper telling me about the TouchPad, I was informed that it was powered by HP WebOS. The “w” is capitalized. This isn’t the case, because webOS has always featured a lowercase “w.” It’s never been capitalized. The brand of webOS is a lower-case “w,” like the “I” is lowercase in iPhone, or iPad. It’s part of the name, it’s part of the brand, and these companies spend a lot of money to make sure that people recognize it.

There wasn’t a single employee that could tell me the OS inside the BlackBerry PlayBook, and when I asked if they could tell me why “WebOS” was wrong, I was met with blank stares. This is unfortunate. When I look to see how hard Apple fights to have their brands recognized, established and repeated all over the mobile market, it begins to make sense. I’m sure that mistakes happen, but when I look through the Apple section in stores, I don’t see any signs telling me that IOS is great, or that the iPhone is still powered by iPhone OS. Everything is up to date, correct, and backed by Apple’s juggernaut marketing.

It makes me wonder if marketing matters to retailers, or customers. Does anyone really care that they are running BlackBerry Tablet OS, and not QNX Software? Or, if you see WebOS, does it matter that the “w” is capitalized? Does the marketing even matter anymore, as long as you get what you want? For me, it’s all about the details, because the details make the bigger picture. I hope that isn’t just me.