It is about understanding trends, experimenting and knowing how to go against conventions
Cool. This word is being used so often we can’t seem to wrap our heads around its definition anymore. So, what is the secret sauce to making your marketplace cool?
Let’s look at how Airbnb nailed it. Marketplaces are “cool” when they allow you to do something not commonly expected. Airbnb did just that as it normalised living in a stranger’s home, which was previously uncommon. Airbnb also minimised any potential safety hazard for its renters and tenants with a screening process to verify its users, alongside a ratings and reviews system for reputation management.
By making living in a complete stranger’s home more socially acceptable, using Airbnb becomes cooler than booking hotels. As we uncover the winning formulae, we’ve have culled 5 pertinent pointers to make your marketplace as cool as a cucumber.
Half the battle is won when customers know the unique proposition of your marketplace. While breaking out of the common mould is bound to grab your marketplace some attention, be careful in overdoing it.
If your marketplace is presented in a concept so unconventional it is radical, it can do more harm than good. The tech titan Apple has demonstrated their apt use of unconventionality in the widely acclaimed 2006 campaign Get A Mac. It sold the idea of owning a Macintosh so well many of the legions of loyal Microsoft users switched to using Macintosh products.
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In Get A Mac campaign, Apple projected a cool image of its brand as they injected unconventionality into a series of ads. While personification could be the last thing a computer user would relate to using Microsoft or Macintosh, this unusual method of persuading customers to use Apple’s operating software made them nonetheless cool.
Imagine Apple employed another advertising strategy where they used animals to portray the comparison, it would have proven to be too unconventional for consumers’ liking. When you tip the scales over too much to one side, consumers may not favour it let alone find it cool. The next point will bring more salience to striking a balance between unconventionality and radicality.
Be autonomous in an appropriate way
Knowing what’s cool will help you in branding an edgy image for your marketplace. In a prominent paper by the Journal of Consumer Research on how consumers perceive coolness, coolness is defined as being “autonomous in an appropriate way”. As such, one needs to deviate from the usual standards and societal expectations while acting in a socially acceptable and appropriate manner.
If Apple were to take on Microsoft head-to-head in an explicit and direct comparison, whatever marketing efforts expended previously would have come to nought. In their famous Get A Mac campaign, Apple did the comparison in a light-hearted, implicit and relatable manner, which was socially acceptable.
It was an exemplary example of Apple being autonomous as it went against the norms when it personified computers. They also made the comparison relatable and tactful such that no uproar will ensue after the commercials.
Contrary to conventional beliefs, extreme unconventionally would not necessarily gain the favour of individuals even with those usually more open to it. Despite the usual inclinations of innovators and early adopters who would accept radical concepts more so than the average person, that isn’t the case when concepts are too unorthodox. When your marketplace borders on the line of being radical, you may need to dial back on your efforts to make it cool.
Going against the norms will likely be in your favour
Not all norms are meant to be broken. The more appropriate rules to bend or break often come down to those that make more sense. Going against norms, just for the sake of looking cool, may spell disastrous results. Although doing what everyone else isn’t doing makes your marketplace more exclusive and more likely to be cool, the type of norm opposed can make or break the outcome.
As mentioned in the paper by the Journal of Consumer Research, subverting counterintuitive norms may engender the opposite results. Between breaking a dress code to honour war veterans and a dictator, participants in the social experiment conducted in the paper, determined the latter was cooler.
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It shed light on the importance of breaking a norm that seems more intuitive to do so, according to the societal rules we have assimilated since young.
Since the former dress code was to applaud the bravery and altruism of the well-known figures during the war, most, if not all would follow it as there is little reason to oppose that. On the contrary, aligning one’s dress code with one imposed by an oppressive dictator seems far more ridiculous.
Be subjective and timely
The idea of coolness itself is already an abstract complex, which further boggles us when subjectivity comes in. As the old maxim goes, “different strokes for different folks”.
Every day, our perception of coolness is constantly evolving. Remember how sporting bell-bottom pants was trendy in the ‘80s and ‘90s before becoming old-fashioned as the millennium approached. Before we knew it, these previously “uncool” bell-bottoms brought retro-fashion back into style as high fashion models strided in them on the runways in glamorous fashion shows.
Hence, staying abreast of the current fads and knowing what your target audience perceives as cool allows you to execute your branding strategies in the nick of time.
If taking a leaf out of Apple’s book is anything to go by, simplicity is one way to be cool. Based on the 7 concepts of cool by Ebsco, nailing the “hassle” factor can pretty much do the trick. Simply put, there needs to be minimal friction in your marketplace, making it a breeze for users.
Steve Jobs lived by a philosophy where simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, where he demonstrated this widely-known ideology in his prized projects, such as the iPhone and the Macintosh operating software. His designs are so intuitive that they are dummy-proof and simple to use, thus rendering the sophistication and cool factor associated with the Apple brand.
Often times, we become too fixated in doing everything to make something cool and lose sight that simplicity is the way to go. Granted that simple here isn’t just another euphemism for rudimentary, being simple can add to the cool element in your marketplace.
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The late founder of Apple, Steve Jobs set us thinking with this famous quote of his:
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
If you can move mountains with your marketplace, you can most certainly be cool. Being cool is not that remote of an idea anymore.
Carrie Er is a Marketing Communications Specialist at Arcadier, a SaaS company that powers next generation marketplace ideas. You can follow Arcadier on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for the latest insights on the Sharing Economy.
The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here .
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