What I’ve Got: Beats Headphones or How to Reverse-Engineer Desirability

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These are the Beats headphones that came “free” when I bought my new Mac laptop. I was excited about the laptop and asked to not have the headphones to pay less for the laptop. But the South African iStore had only this to offer: “Look sir, if you really don’t want the headphones, we’re not forcing you to take them. But you’ll still pay the same amount.”

My Beats never sounded that good to me but for some explicable reason I see them everywhere. And not just the ones that come with Macs, Beats that were bought with the consent of the buyer. 

They easily sell for $199+ but, according to this blog, the cost of the raw materials used is just shy of $17. And some of this cost goes towards nonfunctional pieces of metal to make the headphones feel heavier. 

Beats might not be a technological achievement but this should not detract from the marketing genius of Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre. They managed to put their product in the hands of the some of the world’s most visible athletes and with a partnership with Apple, put their products on shelves in hundreds of thousands of stores.

But more importantly, they hit on a truth that’s difficult to admit: all things being equal, people buy headphones as a fashion statement. They don’t care that it’s cheap to make and doesn’t sound good: what’s more important is who else wears Beats. They care about the image of Beats as brand that’s cool, edgy and in-your-face.

And with some of the sexiest and coolest ads out there, there is no wonder that Beats won the fashion game against manufacturers like Bose, Philips, Sony, etc. 

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Who wouldn’t want them?

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If it’s good enough for LeBron James, it’s good enough for you!

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