Bose’s Products are Undoubtedly its most Powerful Sales Team. But should The Company continue to let them alone do most of The Talking?

It’s most ardent fans say that Bose is to audio systems what Microsoft is to operating systems, Intel is to microprocessor chips and Google is to search engines. The reasons stem from the company’s genesis itself, based on its founder Dr. Amar G. Bose’s (former professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology) philosophy that “audio products exist to provide music for everyone, everywhere – music, not equipment, is the ultimate benefit.” His focus on user experience backed by top quality R&D ensured that Bose sound systems made their mark in most products that they have launched in the audio space.

With the Indian market for high-end products giving room for optimism across categories like apparel, cosmetics, home furnishings, cars, consumer electronics, et al, Bose has also been growing its presence at a brisk pace, and is well received by customers. But there is one aspect of the company’s growth that would keep marketing theorists aghast – their apparently high aversion to advertising and creating some sort of brand personality for Bose Systems.

Promotions are almost entirely restricted to the 33 retail points of presence it has established across major hubs in the country; including smaller towns like Pune, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. Here too, executives aren’t willing to talk much about the company and would only be happy telling you about products, as my personal experience suggests. Marketing has evolved from the school of thought that a great product just sells itself. Then why does a highly successful brand like Bose still follow the old school and rely on product brilliance, highly premium pricing, retail presence & word of mouth alone?

“(Consider how) a brand like Body Shop became a £2 billion brand without spending a shilling on advertising and entirely driven by word of mouth,” counters brand consultant Kiran Khalap. Of course, one advantage that comes out of this is the positioning of Bose as a very exclusive brand for a special set of people. For many years, Bose has been one of the world’s leading makers of speakers for home entertainment, automotive and pro-audio markets, and also manufactures a variety of consumer models for stereo systems and home theatres, including its compact Wave radio system. In fact, some aficionados are known to save for months, as the starting price of these speakers is around Rs.l lakh!

The company follows a ‘direct to customer’ approach; with no middlemen or resellers, by setting up exclusive stores for its products. But isn’t the company severely restricting itself by not investing in advertising? Bose officials refused to respond to 4Ps B&M, citing that being a private limited company, they do not divulge such information to media.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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