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Marketing is an art.  Some have a knack for it, marketing high-end Pampers to other kids on the playground as a baby, and some couldn’t market a cure for world hunger.  I belong in the second one.

    However, marketing differs from other art in that it’s required in our lives.  If you want a scholarship, you have to market yourself to the college in an intelligent, presentable fashion.  Looking at starting your career? You better be able to market your talents in a way that catches the company’s attention.  And don’t get me started on interviews.

Branding

    For the people who have a knack for marketing, they don’t have as much trouble in these areas, mostly.  And the people who go into marketing as their career can be extremely effective, introducing new practices and standards in multiple industries.  One practice that’s popped up is what I want to talk about now, which is the practice of mid-generation upgrading.

  1. The Prevalence of Mid-Generation Upgrading

Mid-generation upgrading is what I call the practice of releasing a product, and then sometime during it’s typical lifetime, releasing a product that is slightly better.  If you don’t know what I’m referring to, take a look at NVIDIA’s newest line of graphics cards, the SUPER series.

NVIDIA released the 2080 series of graphics cards last year, and this year decided to release a SUPER version of each one, promising a decent bump in performance.  And while, sure, the performance gain is decent, the decision to release a rebranded, slightly better version of an existing product is controversial.

Another example is Sony and Microsoft.  Sony somewhat popularized this trend by releasing a beefed-up version of the PS4, the PS4 Pro, a couple years after the release of the original PS4.  The Pro was marketed as a console aimed at 4K, but it required a hefty $400 purchase.  If you already spent money on buying an OG PS4, you still had to cough it up. Then Microsoft pulled the same stunt with the Xbox One X, same story and all, except it costed $500.

Companies have found out that instead of waiting out the typical lifetime of products that don’t require upgrading, they can easily create a beefed-up, slightly-to-decently better product and charge more.  It’s smart from a business perspective, as the money comes flowing in. I’m guilty of giving in to, just ask the PS4 Pro I impulsively bought!

There’s a reason that this lies mostly prevalent in the tech industry, and that’s because tech isn’t always improving at a fast pace.  As of now, video games have improved their graphics capabilities at a snail’s pace, so a console will take around 5-6 years to become outdated unless a major breakthrough happens.  

    Don’t even get me started on Nintendo, who has released 6 different versions of the Nintendo 3DS that were named by the worst marketing department:

  • 3DS
  • 2DS
  • New 3DS
  • New 2DS
  • New 3DS XL
  • New 2DS XL

The “new” versions promised the same thing the Pro and Xbox One X did: improving the capabilities of the device.  Is it necessary? No, but does it work? Absolutely!

I, for one, don’t view mid-generation upgrades as a practice that needs to stay.  At best, it creates a confusing landscape of products that are difficult to explain i.e. 2070 and 2070 SUPER.  At worst, it allows a company to price-gouge consumers for a slightly better product, even though the OG product performs 99% of what the new one does.

Ultimately, just like every other free market, the consumer decides what and what doesn’t sell.  As of now, companies are motivated to perform some rebranding and release the almost-identical product for a bit more money.

But as a consumer, what are some ways to steer yourself clear of this ‘marketing trap’? Trade-ins? Abstinence? No. Instead, when investing in a new piece of electronic, see if a software update instead of a hardware upgrade is possible with the piece. While this is the most prevalent with smartphone and computer OSs, certain manufacturers release new software for old devices on their product sites and online shops: Nintendo switch, routers firmware (even routers pre-configured with a VPN), smart devices OS and other internet-enabled products are amongst them. As long as the piece of tech can be connected to the internet, it’s likely that OS updates will be available.

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