We are Hook Media and we have done extensive research regarding
BOSE brand headphones to discover potential areas of improvement to
advance brand awareness and to ultimately contribute to the further growth
and success of the company. We have discovered strengths and weaknesses
associated with the brand through which we have developed a sub-brand,
Blu by BOSE, to address these areas for potential improvement. We do not
intend to cannibalize BOSE market share through the creation of this new
sub-brand, however, we do hope to establish a more dominant market
presence in the headphone industry.
We began our search for information by comparing the current market
standing of BOSE to other popular headphone brands, such as Beats by Dre,
Monster, and Skullcandy. We wanted to find what set BOSE apart from other
brands in the market. To further distinguish the differences between leading
headphone brands, we conducted primary research through the use of a
focus group and an online survey conducted in Qualtrics survey software. We
confirmed the negative and positive associations made with BOSE
headphone from active and inactive users of the product. This is where we
decided the direction in which to take to encourage future profitability of
Bose in its entirety, through the creation of Blu by BOSE.
From our findings, we have concluded that BOSE is a reliable company
with reliable products widely known to the public. The concern, however, is
that BOSE company’s value proposition is not strong enough to convince
consumers of the high price point. Blu by BOSE introduces a product that
adds value to the entirety of the BOSE brand. By evaluating the needs and
wants of consumers, we believe we have created an effective brand
extension that will build on the strengths of the original BOSE headphone
brand, while transforming negative associations into positive associations to
help position the new sub-brand in the current market. With this brand
extension, BOSE will gain greater product awareness among consumers
through the use of trendy color design, a more economically friendly price
point, and a socially responsible product.
BOSE PORTFOLIO *
* See References (Headphones)
SoundSport SoundLink SoundTrue FreeStyle Aviation
Price $300 - $400 $150 $250 $150 - $180 $130 $1,100
Retail Stores, BOSE Stores, Online, International Presence
Social Networks, Online Website, Advertising
BOSE Headphone Products & Positioning
SoundSport SoundLink SoundTrue FreeStyle Aviation
18-34, living in
in urban areas
to fuel other
music on the
BOSE BRAND HIERARCHY
Competitive positioning matrix
Bose* Beats by Dr.
Monster Inc.*** Skullcandy****
N/A Apple Monster Cable/
POP Advanced Audio
POD • Aviation
• Wide Variety
• DJ inspired
• Wide Variety
• Women's Line
• Less Diverse
• Not Gender
• Ages 20 - 70
• Not Gender
• Ages 13 - 35
• Ages 13-35
• Not Gender
• Ages 13-35
Ear / On-
VISUAL IDENTITY ANALYSIS
There is not a symbol that Bose Corporation specifically created to
include in the design of its headphones, instead, the full company logo
“BOSE” can be spotted on any company product. The company’s slogan is,
“Better sound through research.” It appears as though the chosen font style
(bold and masculine) and color (black and white) of the brand logo does
portray a brand that may specialize in equipment of some kind, specifically
audio equipment in this case. From first glance, the italicized slant of the
letters and extended edges indicates movement, for example, sound waves
flowing from sound equipment. When the target audience clicks on the Bose
main website, the primary background of the website is plain black with
splashes of little color cubes* to add some dimension. From a brand with an
especially vague company symbol, the black background reflects the
simplicity in the logo design taken from the advertising on the Bose Website
(See next page). Aside from the customizable design headphones seen
below, the color design of the headphones are predominantly black/grey,
and do not commonly extend beyond primary colors. These design choices
say that Bose is a company that specializes in delivering quality sound
through research, unlike Monster and Beats who specialize in creating flashy,
extravagant looking products to gain audience attention from their age
Bose brand lacks creative promotional material. When you click on the
headphone tab on the Bose website you receive a blank white/black page
with simple pictures of the different models available; the brand lacks
promotional campaign photos. Even when you search Bose headphones on
Google, there are very few promotional advertisement to be found. Below are
some that we discovered, however, we do not believe Bose brand created
The following was created by independent graphic designers (Alsum):
*See References (Bose Print)
To determine preliminary market level issues of Bose
Headphones, a focus group was conducted on April 23, 2015. A
convenience sample of five respondents was acquired. All attend
Western Washington University and are between the ages of 19-
23. Rachel, Jesse, McKinely, Sam, and Brandon sat down for one
hour to discuss their experience, feelings, and ideas of the
headphone industry in general, as well as, the Bose brand and
their competitors Beats, Skullcandy and Monster.
Focus Group Outline
*This list contains all possible questions that were prepared before the
focus group. Not all questions were used in the discussion. If the question is
highlighted, then it was used.
I. To identify common marketplace beliefs regarding all headphones
a. Do you own a pair of headphones?
b. When do you use them? (music, travel, studying, working out)
c. How much would you pay for an ordinary pair of headphones?
d. What is the maximum you would pay for headphones?
e. Is there a difference between headphones and ear buds?
f. How often do you replace your headphones?
g. Do you like the ones you own now? Why or why not?
h. Where did you go to purchase them?
i. What type of headphone would you be likely to use under the following
situations? (When you need to replace a pair of headphones, when
working out, when conscious of style and fashion)
j. What features are important in a pair of headphones?
II. Brand recognition
a. What brands of headphones have you experienced in the past?
b. Name all brands of headphones you can think of.
c. What brand of headphone do you think is the most popular?
d. Is there a brand of headphones you always go back to?
e. *Referring to the slideshow* Can you recognize these brand logos? (Skull
Candy, Beats, Monster, and Bose)
f. *Referring to the slideshow* Ranking these four headphones from most
expensive to least expensive what order would they be?
a. Are you familiar with Bose headphones?
b. Are you surprised with their price?
c. Have you ever used Bose headphones?
d. Where would you go to buy Bose headphones?
e. How do you think Bose compares to other brands?
f. What do you think Bose does well with their headphones?
g. Do you find them stylish? Is that important?
h. Do you know anyone who owns Bose headphones?
i. What words describe Bose headphones best?
j. Who do you think uses Bose headphones?
k. Who do you think uses their competitor’s headphones? (Beats, Skullcandy
l. Are you likely to recommend Bose headphones to others?
m. Do you ever talk about Bose headphones with others?
n. If you wanted to purchase Bose headphones where would you go?
Preliminary marketplace findings
After conducting a focus group, it is concluded that certain topics need
to be explored more in depth through survey analysis. Below are
commonalities uncovered about the marketplace in general, feelings of Bose
as a brand, and how their competitors stack up.
• Price is important
• The average price paid for a pair of headphones was concluded to be
between $15-$25 dollars. This price is far below the average price of
• The maximum price to be paid for a pair of headphones was the same as
the average price. Respondents could not imagine paying more.
• All respondents were amazed that people spend a lot of money on
headphones. They could not see themselves spending much more
than their agreed average price even if they had the money to do so.
• Respondents think of headphones as an everyday, disposable type of
• Respondents strongly prefer in-ear headphones compared to over the
o Respondents agreed that in-ear headphones were more
comfortable because they are less heavy.
o They also preferred in-ear headphones because they are less
conspicuous. One respondent stated, “The big ones are such a
statement, you have to be ready for that.”
o The stereotype created for over the head headphones were
described as: an arrogant male who never takes off his
headphones, and wears them around his neck just to make a
o Even when prompted what they would choose if they wanted to
be stylish, in- ear headphones still won. A respondent stated,
“headphones are just not something that I want to show off.”
• Comfort and Quality reign as the most important aspects of a pair of
o All respondents agreed that their headphones must be
comfortable. As one respondent put it, “If they are not
comfortable, you can’t really listen to your music because it's
o Quality was also important, but to respondents “quality” and
“high quality” differ. When prompted respondents described
quality headphones as a pair that did not break in a month or so.
Keep in mind the average price paid for headphones.
• Bose was in the recall set of headphones for one respondent: the male
• Headphones mentioned before Bose, in order were: Skull Candy, Apple,
Beats, and Gummies. Sony was mentioned as the last headphone
brand after Bose.
• Apple and Beats were listed as the most popular brands of those that
were recalled. Apple because they come with a purchase of an iPhone,
and Beats because of their advertisements and celebrity
endorsements. Respondents still would not consider buying Beats
even though they consider them popular; they are seen as too
• Nobody knew the Monster brand logo
• After respondents were told that it was Monster brand headphones,
some had heard of their headphones and some hadn’t.
• *Referring to the slideshow* Bose and Beats are thought of as the most
expensive headphones (compared to Monster and Skull Candy)
• Respondents were surprised to learn that Monster headphones are more
expensive than Bose headphones for the same type of over the ear
• When respondents think of Bose they think of airports and Dads
• Specifically, one respondent recalled seeing a Bose headphone
advertisement in a magazine on a flight.
o Others associate the brand with being in an airport.
o Most respondents said they know of the Bose brand because of
an older male in the family, either a father or a grandfather.
o They recognize Bose and a speaker, or surround sound
entertainment brand, before a headphone brand.
o Respondents knew the brand Bose, but admitted they could not
picture what their headphones look like.
• When respondents think of Beats they think of young, generational,
• All of the female respondents agreed that they did not care for Beats.
Flashy headphones were not preferred.
• When regarding technology, peer influence is more important than
• None of the respondents had purchased Bose headphones
o If given to them as a gift, respondents would be very happy
because they think of Bose headphones as very high quality.
• A few respondents had been to a Bose store
• When asked where they would look for Bose headphones, the Bose
store was brought up first. Of those that had visited they said that they
went with a father but would go there to look for headphones. Best Buy
was the only other answer. Interestingly no one mentioned online.
Trying them on before purchase to check for comfort was a big issue.
*It became clear, during the primary focus group that all of our
respondents knew about Bose headphones but had no experience using the
product. Therefore, we conducted a convenience sample of friends and
family who have used Bose headphones. We asked the same questions
except for in a one-on-one setting. We interviewed an additional five people
to obtain more research. Here is the information we obtained:
Each respondent agreed that Bose headphones were worth the price,
however only two of the five stated that they would spend that much money
on Bose headphones again. The other three agreed that they were a great
product but would not spend their own money on them again; they are just
too expensive. These three respondents agreed with the original study group
about opinions on excessive headphone expenditures.
Exhaustive Survey Summary and Primary Data Analysis
Hook media analyzed survey data from 33 respondents to determine market
place associations regarding BOSE headphones and their competitors: Beats,
Skullcandy, and Monster. Below is a detailed report gathered from SPSS data
• The average number of brands considered before making a headphone
purchase is 3. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being the minimum number of
headphones considered and 5 being the maximum, an average of 3
headphones is considered before making a purchase. Based upon
personal experience this seems normal, but given the current
competitive market (4 major competitors) one brand is not being
• Approximately 46% of survey respondents said Beats by Dre is the
headphone market leader. Followed by BOSE, approximately 36% of
respondents stated they thought BOSE was the market leader in
• Approximately 49% of respondents answered that they have used BOSE
headphones within the last two years.
• Approximately 39% of respondents stated that BOSE headphones would
be their first purchase choice.
• Approximately 27% of respondents would consider BOSE their second or
third choice for headphones. (27% for each category).
We must be weary of this answer because respondents knew the
survey was being conducted about BOSE headphones. It's possible that
respondents could have been tailoring their answers to what they thought
Hook Media wanted to hear. After All, respondents concluded that Beats by
Dre were the headphone market leaders. There could be many contributing
factors to this answer.
• BOSE brand knowledge structure.
The BOSE brand association structure was created running frequency
outputs on the survey data.
After reviewing the entirety of the BOSE brand through the identity,
exploratory, and descriptive analysis, Hook Media has come to the
recommendation that BOSE should introduce a new sub-branded line of
headphones, Blu by BOSE. It is believed that the launch of Blu by BOSE will
create enough cognitive dissonance away from the negative associations of
BOSE such as no "cool factor", while still capturing the strong positive brand
associations such as the importance of research, comfort, and brand
reputation that BOSE still holds. Creating earth-friendly, minimalistic
designed, better sounding headphones, fills a perceptual hole within the
headphone industry. Blu by BOSE will hook additional customer segments,
without ignoring the needs of the existing customer base. Blu by BOSE will
be created with the intentions of targeting younger generations, a segment
BOSE has struggled resonating with. Targeting all genders from ages 13 to 30
who are somewhat price-sensitive, yet still care about their planets health and
quality sound. This sub brand will help refresh the BOSE brand by capturing a
new customer segment, while avoiding product cannibalization.
First, Hook Media plans to boost the "cool factor" of BOSE. "Cool factor"
had a strong negative association with BOSE, discovered through primary
research via a survey conducted in the brand descriptive. BOSE has
perfected the production of comfortable, reliable products; however, it has
struggled with product aesthetics and design. Focusing on an aesthetically
pleasing, sleek, minimalistic design for both in-ear and over-the-ear
headphones within the Blu by BOSE brand, will help make the brand become
more appealing to younger crowds whom seem to be much more self-
conscious and aware of appearances. By launching a sub brand, factors like
quality and comfort will still be represented as a strong positive association,
while making the brand appear much more fashionable and modern at the
same time. In addition, Hook Media suggests BOSE should offer a wider
variety of colors exclusive to the Blu by BOSE brand. According to a survey
conducted by Hook Media, 57.6% of respondents noted they would buy BOSE
if they offered a new line of colorful headphones. Not only do consumers
agree, but also more colors will say BOSE can be both fashionable and
functional. Adding more options of colored in-ear and over-the-ear
headphones will help decrease the strong negative association of low
Another important strong negative association with BOSE that Hook
Media found crucial to eliminate was the expensive price tag. Traditionally,
BOSE produces high quality products accompanied with higher prices. Hook
Media suggests that Blu by BOSE should be more affordable than any of its
existing headphones. For the in-ear, it was decided the price point should
start at $49.95 . For the over-the-ear, two different types of headphones
should be offered a regular and a premium option. The regular over-the-ear
headphones should be priced at $89.95. The premium over-the-ear should
be priced at $159.95. As noted, all options should be made available in any
color, excluding the premium over-the-ear style, which may have a few extra
colors exclusive to that style.
Now, in addition to adding life to BOSE with the new sub-brand, it
should also shine some light on the consumers' overall increasing value on
sustainable products. This is why Hook Media suggests some, if not all of the
headphones under the Blu by BOSE brand should be made solely from
recyclable materials. On top of making sustainable headphones, BOSE
should become more heavily associated and involved with being socially
responsible. To do this, Blu by BOSE should donate to organizations that
promote clean air and water conservation. Now, on to how the sub-brand will
Distribution will be carried out through multiple channels, none of
which will be in the BOSE brick and mortar stores. This was decided, because
BOSE stores are for everything else BOSE offers. Blu by BOSE is not like
every other product BOSE produces; they are special, hence why they will be
sold elsewhere. Stores like Best Buy, Target, and Evo will all carry Blu by
BOSE. Despite Blu by BOSE not being sold in BOSE stores it will; however, be
made available for purchase on the online e-commerce BOSE site.
The above recommendations will be advertised mainly through
nontraditional marketing methods. Sending Blu by BOSE to main influencers,
such as video bloggers "vloggers", will help increase brand awareness. Use of
native advertising on podcasts will also help propel buying behavior toward
Blu by BOSE for the older half of the targeted market. All relevant social
media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, YouTube, and
Vine should be utilized, as it will at minimum help increase brand awareness.
Paid advertising such as use of targeted ads on Facebook, along with
Instagram promos and contests, along with paying SnapChat influencers will
all be valuable methods for targeting the younger generation.
By focusing on strengthening the positive associations consumers have
with the BOSE headphone brand currently, and by improving on the
associations once considered to be negative, the Blu by BOSE will be a strong
sub-brand that will attract the market segment (the younger generation) that
we feel has been neglected under the father brand. The Blu by BOSE brand
responds predominantly to the wants and needs of the younger consumers
(age range 13-30 years old) who crave a greater acceptance from peers
through the use and wear of fashionable, as well as socially responsible,
headphones. And because the younger generation is technologically savvy,
we have decided to distribute the product through online promotion, personal
and professional, using social media outlets where this target market can be
best reached. BOSE headphones are recognized for sound quality, durability,
and brand loyalty, however, the Blu by BOSE sub-brand will be recognizable
for trendy color design, reasonable pricing, and environmentally friendly
production. Hook Media’s aim is to increase BOSE brand loyalty in every age
bracket to gain larger market share in the headphone industry.
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