Beats by Dre: A case study for modern marketers

Seldom does a sporting occasion pass that you don’t see them in all their glory. Broadcasters love to film the ‘warm-up’ and stars love to listen to music, meaning golden coverage for Beats by Dre each and every time.

The headphone brand, fronted by ageing rapper and producer Dr. Dre, essentially created its own product category, the premium headphone market, when it burst onto the. Just a few years ago, spending $300 on headphones was something only a handful of artists and music producers would even consider. Nowadays though, buoyed by savvy marketing, an influencer/sponsorship strategy matched only by the likes of Nike, and usage of digital tools in an authentic way, Beats heads up the industry.

Owning over 64% of the million dollar industry is no mean feat, but don’t think they dominate based on sound. Many audiophiles consider the Beats over ear headphone to be of inferior quality to many cheaper alternatives. So how has Beats continued to grow? Simple. Great marketing.

Prior to last year’s London Olympics, Beats held an exclusive pre games event in a hip Shoreditch venue. Invited were hundreds of the world’s best athlethes and musicians, with gift sets handed out on arrival. Of course, weeks later, these headphones would turn up on the biggest stage of the all. Swimmers waiting to be called for their heat, athletes warming up, football players entering the stadium, Beats got millions of dollars worth of media for the price of a few sets, and managed to ambush the games in a really savvy way.

Beats also puts huge emphasis into placing the headphones into authentic places like music videos, while part of the influencer strategy is identifying and supporting young music acts destined for stardom.


At the core of all marketing and advertising is weaving a story tapestry about your product, and, following in the footsteps of illustrious predecessors like Apple (does the above ad remind you of anything?), Beats are masters at this, and of placing their product in the right hands at the right time.

Music and marketing is an obvious relationship explored by most brands. Facilitating and growing with a particular music scene or act is a cost effective way to market to the masses (Carling’s growth with the UK indie/uni scene of the early ’00s is a great example), and this is something Beats’ marketing understands better than anyone. Product placement sells, and that’s not just arbitrarily putting your product into a movie, placing it into real, credible scenarios is a much more influential strategy.

The brand has already expanded into docking station market, with the well received Beats Pill, and has struck a deal with  HP to tune its new line of premium computers with the same Beats sound.

Beats is a company that’s fast becoming ingrained into music culture, and when that happens, you’ve got a ‘super brand’ on your hands. Take a look at their Facebook page for an example of a brand that really knows how to engage its audience and create evangelists. My inclination is that Beats could go on to become an important media company in the next decade and just imagine what partnerships with the likes of Spotify or another tech brand could mean.

Keep an eye out for the shocking red heaphones and the smart, influence led marketing.

[Coincidentally, Niall also posted on this subject on the SZ blog over the weekend, which you can see here]