The beat goes on
frog helped reinvigorate storied audio brands Polk Audio, Definitive, and Boom. We helped parent company DEI Holdings create a meaningful, differentiated, and profitable consumer offering in the personal audio market.
DEI Holdings, parent company of some of the most respected brands in consumer electronics, has shaped the premium home theater loudspeaker market for decades. For example, the DEI-owned Polk Audio and Definitive Technology brands are established market leaders in the loudspeaker and soundbar markets, each with a reputation for superior acoustics. DEI tapped frog to help develop a strong offering for the personal audio space, in which lifestyle brands currently lead an otherwise crowded market. The objective was to design products that uniquely combine function, performance, and audio quality with cultural resonance, desirable aesthetics, and emotional connection.
frog’s design and strategy teams saw a unique opportunity to apply ethnographic, quantitative, and qualitative research insights to help DEI make sense of changing customer priorities and create a global strategy for three of their brands – Polk Audio, Definitive Technology, and the newly founded Southern California brand Boom. We established target segments and brand positions, identified and evaluated opportunity areas, and refined 27 initial concepts into 11 final products to launch in 2012 – 2013. This case study highlights some of the insights and processes that shaped the new brand positioning and marketing strategy for each of the brands.
11 Stakeholder Interviews
13 Contextual Inquiries
15 Retailer Visit Inquiries
2 Web Surveys
200+ frogMOB™ Submissions
24 Product Unboxings
45 Brand Audits
4 Films Created
Making sense of the personal audio market
The three major brand types dominating the personal audio market are audio-centric (focused on sound quality), fashion (focused on lifestyle, youth culture, and trends), and mass-market (focused on the mass production of product). Taking DEI’s audio-centric brands into the future meant mapping out unique market spaces for all three of them, finding their centers of passion, and connecting them with their heritage.
The frog conducted both qualitative and quantitative research and immersed itself in the market to understand the landscape, define targets, identify unmet needs, and establish positions for the three DEI brands. Ethnographic research and a frogThink ideation session provided a better understanding of consumer preferences. Conjoint analysis with 1,000 consumers provided quantitative understanding of music consumption behaviors.
Reinvigorating storied brands
Each DEI brand was already steeped in history. Take for example Polk Audio: after graduating from Johns Hopkins University in the early 1970s with degrees in physics and engineering, the founders started making speakers in a ramshackle Victorian rooming house, hand-sanding the wooden cabinets themselves. The new challenge for Polk Audio was to peel away the layers of history and reintroduce an iconic American brand with a new generation of consumers. Meanwhile the BOOM brand has its own origin story: started by a small group of 20-something’s on the West Coast, it was deeply rooted in the Southern California skate, surf, and street art scene. Bringing this street credibility to the surface and connecting BOOM with the scattered youth market required a fundamental shift in positioning, defining BOOM as a youth brand.
Based on extensive immersive research, frog developed hypotheses for all three DEI brands, tested them, and then created authentic individual personas to act as gravitational centers for both product development and marketing efforts. Refining a brand requires amplification of key attributes. frog brought the new brand personas to life in carefully crafted videos, featuring three of our designers telling their own personal stories. The videos clarify the new brand positioning and also show how the three brands fit together.
Developing a go-to-market Strategy
A key outcome of the product and design strategy was a finely articulated business case for each of DEI’s three brands. frog developed a market model for each of the three brands to be unique, differentiated, and profitable. The market model combined inputs from competitive, segmentation and conjoint analyses, as well as price and cost assumptions defined collaboratively with DEI, to estimate the potential annual revenue and profit resulting from each product.
DEI’s new product portfolio, designed in collaboration with frog and dei’s global design center, will be unveiled over the next 12 months. the new brand positions, visual centers and marks went live this summer with the launch of new boom, polk, and definitive technology websites.
Our research yielded interesting insights about the personal audio market. For example, we discovered that audio quality played a varying role in purchasing decisions of each of the three personas. In addition, a single headphone or mobile connected speaker cannot do everything that a listener wants. The vast majority of consumers own more than one mobile connected speaker and headphones. Most importantly, the leading personal audio brands have strong brand identities and provide an emotional connection delivered through an authentic experience. A market-leading brand needs to clearly articulate what it stands for.