Taming demand

A few weeks ago, Snap Inc (Snapchat) released their flashy Google-glass-esque sunglasses: Spectacles.

Snap has chosen to distribute their glasses through a friendly-looking and very yellow vending machine called Snapbot. Every few days, a targeted Snapbot deployment stirs a frenzy among early-adopters to get in line for their chance in snagging a pair of Spectacles. Deployments show up sporadically like in the middle of Venice Beach, near the ocean cliffs of Big Sur, and even at a pop-up store in the heart of NYC.

Photo collage of Snapbots from Twitter

Many friends and colleagues have been hyped up on trying to get a pair, waking up in the early morning and checking the Spectacles map to see if a Snapbot would appear around their neighborhood.

Besides driving hype for this fun gadget, Snap has crafted a remarkable marketing and supply chain abstraction with Snapbot.

Snapbot is like middleware between demand and supply:

  1. Snapbot helps boost actual demand. Turning the purchasing experience into almost an adventure helps to generate interesting content. This unique experience coupled with the items’ scarcity drives, ultimately, a darn good story that easily garners “Likes” and clicks. It’s an organic and authentic advertising campaign that directly targets the millennial audience, who are constantly sharing their experiences on social media.

  2. Snapbot is the gatekeeper to actionable consumer demand. The controlled roll-out of a small batch of items every day keeps direct demand artificially low. Concerning supply chain constraints, this is a dream. Often, we see Kickstarter projects inundated with unhappy customer complaints regarding the delay of a product shipment. Securing the supply chain for a new product is challenging and often catches product launches by surprise. Suppliers and backup vendors can struggle to meet their obligations, production delays can push back shipment dates, and timely transportation can be costly to secure. Snapbot has effectively kept demand low, affording their supply chain processes to ramp up with ample time and to minimize the problems that plague many other hardware startups.

Props to the Snap team for a brilliant roll-out strategy.


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