To protect my hearing from the harmful windnoise on the motorcycle I decided to buy some proper earplugs, that reduce the noise, but still allow me to hear the world around. After a google search I come across Alpine a Dutch firm selling sets especially made for motorcyclists, the Alpine Motosafe. The professional look, detailed explanation of their product free shipping on orders above €20,- convinced me to pay 24,95 for the whole order.
With the arrival of my order I was surprised with the weight of the mailpackage. As I opened it, I was even more surprised to see how these little earplugs were presented to the customer, packed in a bright red coloured minigrip seal bag.
To keep the earplugs secure and together, Alpine provided a little pouch with a keycord attached, which is very handy. But after opening the pouch, my designer heart with a love for User Centered Design really started to beat faster.
The most frustrating thing to happen with a set is ofcourse that you lose one of them, in most cases rendering the other one useless for further use. Alpine has put interest in this fact and added an extra earplug with the set. Besides the extra plug, Alpine also provides 2 types of soundfilters, so the customer can change the noise-reduction needed for each particular situation. The soft material of the earplugs feels great, but the flexibility makes it difficult to insert the earplug. Realising this, the company took another step with adding a small helpful tool that can be used to insert the plugs.
What we have now is a good product, with the user held in mind. But apparently it isn’t enough for this brand. This is where the FRANTIC FREEBEE FEST really took off!
FREEBEE #1: With the MotoSafe set, Alpine provided a bandana, frequently used by motorcyclists to protect their neck and upperface from the elements. Ofcourse this freebee had to be fully printed with the brand name and the statement they are number 1!
FREEBEE #2: An Alpine pen, because you can never have enough right..
FREEBEE #3: A little card with the details and QR code to the Alpine MusicSafeCheck Application that can be downloaded for free.
FREEBEE #4: A coupon of 10% off on the order of another product from the brand: Alpine SleepingPlugs.
FREEBEE #5: A giftcard from the company Hello Fresh.
It can be said that the Dutch population has a FreeBee fetish. Couponclipping since coffee-supplier Douwe Egberts introduced it in 1924, now after each purchase in the groceries store we are still being asked; Spaart u zegeltjes? As a Dutch firm it might have led Alpine to believe that you can never give enough freebees.
Several things can be said about this matter, from which brand awareness would be the biggest argument. Put your brand name anywhere and it will be a good thing. Having your stamp on things has its benefits, but with Strategy and User Centered Design in mind, there should always be one question:
What creates value to the customer
Alpine has a great product here. Beside supplying the customer with there goods, they took a deep interest in the use of their product and that really shows. Providing a pouch to secure the goods, adding 2 types of noise-filters to suit the user’s specific needs. The best of all must be that they acknowledged the weakness of this product range and decided not to make the user suffer under it. With providing the extra earplug they give a real sense of value to the customers need. Its is like they say; ‘We know the agony of loosing one piece of a set, so here is an extra piece, just in case!’
A customers buying earplugs has a intrinsic motivation in protecting their hearing. The addition of the application is a smart move and is a great tool that provides value to this audience. A brand that provides the client with tools to manage their personal needs, is a brand emerging in a target group. Creating value and meaning to the life and interests of the brand. By engaging in the customers needs, the brand plays a roll in the daily life of the client, creating a tighter bond and a big chance of this individual becoming an ambassador of the brand.
As for the rest; the motorcycle bandana seems like a good choice as well, for this specific target audience. The pen and extra giftcard for a third party are nice to have, but they don’t add any meaning to the product. Despite that, they can actually create noise from the valuable items. Hence on a meta-level the value provided to customers is pushed back. ‘We have so much stuff, here just take some of this on some of these things as well, whatever’.
Like mentioned before, a lot can be said about brand-awareness, but it is much more efficient as a brand to focus on the aspects that truly create value to the customer. The Alpine company did a great job listening to the needs of their customers and adding value to their product, no argument there. But my advice would be to put more energy there in order to create more revenue. It will make the interactions with the customer sharper and therefor more valuable.
As a final comparison; Would you recommend a brand sooner if there product and provided services added meaning and value to you life, or when they supply extra gadgets with there brand-name printed on it?