An Acer Visit: Qualitative Marketing

One of the obligations of my illustrious field marketing job, is that I occasionally have to attend training days at various company offices. Today was one such day, where I visited Acer HQ in London to learn about one of their new laptop ranges that I’m meant to be demonstrating soon. There were presentations by Acer, Microsoft, and Intel. Without divulging too much information (I don’t want to break some sort of non-disclosure agreement I’m sure I’m bound by) there was a very interesting section of the Intel presentation that got my attention.

We were all talked through the various models of Intel processor (Atom, Celeron, Pentium, Centrino) and then a chart was brought up, which showed all of the different processor types. However, they were all grouped according to a newly devised ‘five star’ rating, to explain how powerful each processor was. The ‘five star’ category was deemed as “Best”, with the one star rating being referred to as “Good”. The floor was then opened, and we were asked what we thought of this new rating system, which I’m sure Intel are eager to promote.

The point came up that customers always want to buy what’s best on the market, even if it exceeds their needs. This is very true. I don’t like this five star rating system, and completely discourage Intel from using it. Firstly, I don’t like the way they rank processors against one another. Sure, some processors are more powerful than others, but you can’t really compare an Atom, which is made for netbooks, with a Core 2 Quad, and I think it’d detract from sales (not to mention being bad for their Atom line which was ‘one starred’) to compare processors in such a quantitative way. People talk, and think in words, not numbers. By telling them that a processor is only one out of five stars, you’re clearly going to put anyone off from buying it. Indeed, I can see that Intel tried to get around this by labelling their one star selection as ‘Good’ and not ‘Basic’, but I think words like this need to be avoided in marketing at all costs. In these hard times, you can’t afford to alienate your customers who are searching for a bargain by telling them that your entry level products aren’t great. Certainly, I’m sure they are great, they’re just built for different things. Instead of this method of ranking, why don’t we draw on human nature and label our products qualitatively instead. That is, to label them with words, instead of numbers. Intel, instead of presenting a chart with horizontal bars, representing their different ranks of processor, should instead turn that into a chart which presents the different processor types in vertical groups, to quell all notions of any superiority between processors (unless, of course, you’re looking at it from a consumer psychology angle, in which case either the left or right will have precedence, depending on what country you’re in). Instead of the rather garish and offputting five-star rating, why not simply label, say, an Atom processor as ‘Efficient’ or for ‘On the move’, and a Core 2 Quad as a ‘Performance’ processor? It makes a lot more sense, I think. People think words, so why not present things to them in a format they can easily understand?

Just something to think about.