The Ultimate Mass Market: Makers

The Makers movement is increasingly making the headlines with record attendance of participants and visitors at the various Maker Faires around the world (35 major events in 2016 based on the official Maker Faire organiser) and 150+ events globally if you include the mini Maker Faires. Not only those events are becoming huge (New York 2016 estimations are in the 65,000 attendees), they are a good example the evolution in the marketing practices of many companies to leverage the visibility to their products and brand (1M combined attendees expected for 2015 after 10 years of existence). For comparison, CES, the largest Consumer Technology show attracted 177,393 attendees in 2016, Embedded World Nuremberg reached a record of 30,000 visitors.
This just shows that the flagship Maker Faires like New York, Bay Area or Rome are important for technology positioning and branding but it also entails that one understands the Maker movement to appropriately target this customer base.
Why is the Maker Movement important?
Makers comes in all shapes and sizes, originating in schools, STEM groups, garage-bound inventors and seasoned engineers, all looking for cool ideas, improvement and creativity. There are no rules in the Maker World as it is all based on discovery of what one or something can do. Spin-offs and incubators are a direct result of the Maker movement as one is not bound to conformity during the creation time of a product. Makers have the opportunity to try, improve, connect and network before demonstrating the result of their creativity. This movement fits the prime definition of mass-market. The Maker Movement is the place where your technology or product is put to the test beyond what it has been designed for: it is the place where technology gets into the applications that expand your revenue beyond your forecast.
Tracking the Makers
Marketing campaigns require ROI measurements and tracking methodologies to ensure that the time and funding invested bring the expected results. Yet, with Makers, it is more complex as they are not bound to the traditional values of marketing tracking. Makers might not be attending seminars or follow a specific technology purchasing behaviour as they are opportunistic and use their network to get the supplies they require. As Makers comes in all shapes and sizes, a variety of measurement tools must be deployed to keep track of their progress, promoting new technologies/services as they go along their path. Social Media, online shopping and services, blogs and attendance at the Maker events are the combined signals for following and turning Makers into brand followers.
From Makers to Incubators and start-ups
A small but important number of makers eventually end up in incubators and start-up farms, leveraging the creativity and innovation of their ideas to catch the entrepreneur dream. The branding imprint becomes the potential for revenue for companies willing to change their level of support from mass-market to target business opportunity. Makers that decide to make the step to commercialise their invention require a different level of service, support and marketing to bring them to the top of the food-chain. This is where distribution channels, manufacturing support and marketing for their end product become the key of success. The transition from Maker to Professional is tricky and can result in many failures, yet, branding opportunities continue to grow and ROI becomes more palpable.
Link into the University Programs
It is important to consider the fact that having a foot into Technical High Schools and Universities brings companies a step closer to the Maker Movement. The logical link of STEM, Makers and Education increases the trust into the brand and the technology, thus reinforcing the allegiance to the mass market. Fostering technology power users from a younger age provides advantages on the infrastructure for technical support by promoting self-help, communities and decentralised technical information via workshops at maker faire events.
The Ultimate Mass Market
The Maker world increases every day more as STEM and Maker movement interest our youth, retirees and hobbyists in discovering technology, applying it to their own creativity. Many large OEMs are sponsors of Maker Faire events as they embark on migrating their brand acceptance from professionals to the world. There is room for many in the mass market but only the ones that address the Makers will really have a chance to compete.
Set your mind, shape your marketing strategy to address the Marketing evolution for the Makers, and once acquired, following the Makers into their quest for driving the next products to the market.
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© STIFFAN Consulting November 2016