M&Ms & Patek Philippe: How Chocolate Candy and Luxury Watches Showcase Marketing Brilliance
Learn what $100,000 watches and $1 chocolate candy have in common.
When it comes to incredible product marketing, two major (though otherwise unrelated) brands immediately come to mind: ubiquitous candy brand M&Ms and luxury watch brand Patek Philippe. Startups should take note: understanding and managing your customers’ mindset is imperative for achieving sustained growth and success, and these two brands have mastered this. Let’s dive in.
M&Ms: “Share Size”
M&Ms have been a beloved American treat ever since their invention in 1941 (they were even the first candy to be rocketed into space 40 years later!).
Marketed to children and adults alike, the brand has grown their revenue by increasing the size of their packaging over the years along with their prices. The package sizes peaked with the creation of “King Size”; but with a decrease in sales amid an increase in consumer health-consciousness, M&Ms made the brilliant decision to eliminate the use of this term in 2013. Instead, they switched to calling larger-sized packaging “Share Size.”
This was a genius move. M&Ms realized that their customers had become less inclined to buy larger-sized bags of the product for themselves alone, and by marketing them as “shareable” they made the idea of purchasing larger bags feel more palatable and less gluttonous for consumers. And it worked! Because M&Ms so deeply understood the changing mindsets of their customers and took action accordingly, in 2017 they were the top-ranked U.S. chocolate candy brand with almost $700M in sales.
Patek Philippe: “You merely look after it for the next generation.”
A few years back, I picked up watches as a new hobby, and I was surprised to learn that while a digital quartz watch (like the LCD ones you can buy for $10) will stay accurate to within 1 second per month, a fancier $100,000 watch like a Patek Philippe can have 3-5 seconds of inaccuracy each DAY (~100x worse timekeeping than a cheap quartz watch). So how does a brand continue to convince people to purchase a vastly more expensive and less accurate timekeeping device?
A company like Patek Philippe understands that even though their target audience has money, it can feel ridiculous to spend $50,000-100,000 on a watch for oneself. In 1997, they introduced this brilliant tagline: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation”. Patek Philippe ads across the world feature this phrase, typically on top of a picture of a father with ever-so-slightly graying hair and his young son.
They understood that while an affluent watch wearer might be more hesitant to spend large amounts of money on a watch for themselves, they’d be far more inclined to spend under the sentimental idea that they’ll one day be gifting that same watch to their child (whether or not that’s even true).
Both M&Ms and Patek Philippe have cleverly influenced their customers by enticing them to feel good about making the purchases that the brands want them to make. And it wasn’t about making their products better tasting or more accurate; by understanding their customers’ mindset (emotions, desires, and motivations), both brands have effectively increased their revenues and positioned themselves at the top of their respective industries.
What does this mean for your startup?
Do the work to truly understand all facets of your customers’ life and ecosystem so that you can gain a deeper understanding of both the external influences and the myriad psychological factors that influence their decision making. By astutely appealing to these sentiments and emotions, you can craft your messaging to influence and drive customer behavior, allowing you to increase pricing and achieve continuous growth.
We have a few more ideas in another UBQT post: “But Wait, There’s More!”: 3 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Infomercials
Ubiquity Ventures — led by Sunil Nagaraj — is a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on startups solving real-world physical problems with "software beyond the screen", often using smart hardware or machine learning.
If your startup fits this description, fill out the 60-second Ubiquity pitch form and you’ll hear back within 24 hours.
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