Super X-Fi is cool! But What’s Next For Creative?

This is the follow-up post on the article I have written in March (If you have yet to read the article, you could access it from here). The Creative stock (stock quote: C71.SI) has sky-rocketed since then. In Oct 2018, the first Super X-Fi Amp launches exclusively in Singapore. The market response is overwhelming. 600 units sold within the first 20 minutes. This is a huge success for Creative considering this is only the sales number from the small Singapore market. Given the amount of press coverage on this product, I believe this product could also sell well in the region. Now, the next multi-billion-dollar question is,” How is Creative going to unlock the value of Super X-Fi technology?”

Super X-Fi AMP — A Good Head Start

3D immersive sound is not something new in the headphones market. In fact, a lot of brands has jumped into the bandwagon but after so many years, we didn’t see a clear market leader in this space. Creative manages to rejuvenate the market interest with their Super X-Fi technology. Tapping on the success of the Super X-Fi Amp, I believe the upcoming Super X-Fi Air wireless headphone which is targeting at the Apple users will be doing well too. In the short term, I am rather confident to see a minor positive impact on the Creative’s financial.

That’s the juicy business story of Creative in the short term. On the flip side, the big boys are not going to sit there and do nothing. They are going to response as well. Selling a Super X-Fi branded headphones is the way to go? Personally, I don’t think so.

Audio is not a product. It is an experience!

Most consumers won’t have any idea of what a good sound is, and they are largely dependent on what has been marketed to them by the brands. That’s the reality of mass production. What sets Super X-Fi apart from others? It is giving control to user to do personalization for their headphones. At present, none in the market could personalize sound profile like Creative. The Super X-Fi App maps the structure of the user’s ears and head and the information is then transmitted to the Super X-Fi Chip that is embedded in the product (Headphone or Amp). In another words, the product is personalized to you and to you only. That’s the kind of experience other brands cannot offer but on the flip side, how does Creative going to stay ahead before other brands do the same?

Mapping on Super X-Fi App

Focus A Specific Group of Users and Build a Community

Super X-Fi has aroused the market and the media coverage has brought Creative stock back into the radar of the investors. It is a good start but here comes the real challenge for Creative. Once the product is out, it is as good as opening door to your competitors to see what’s inside your house. This is unavoidable and now, the best thing Creative could do is to place focus on specific group of customers — the early adopters.

The early adopters are usually the one who are technically inclined and to some extent, they are what the market called “audiophile”. These are also advance users who demanded the most and because of that very reason, they are also very willing to provide feedbacks on how the product could be further improved. Engaging these users and keeping them interested in the community will help to build a strong brand attachment towards Super X-Fi. These are also influencers that could help to sell the products. It may not come as the surprise that the most powerful salesperson comes from this community.

I am pretty sure Creative has thought this before. The launch of Super X-Fi Amp is well-planned with meeting sessions to educate the consumers who have just brought the product. That level of engagement should continue.

Super X-Fi App is More Than Just An App

The core of Super X-Fi lies on the data and that’s the only barrier Creative has against their competitors. The strategy that Creative has adopted is to make the Super X-Fi App available to all; that helps Creative gather a wider spectrum of database which could further enhance Super X-Fi experience in the future update. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any benefits of keeping the app installed in my phone after I have set up my Super X-Fi Amp.

It is a pity. I believe the Super X-Fi App could do much than just setting up my device. First, it could be a way for community to discuss about their experience with the products. Second, the app could equip with advance features that targets specifically at audiophile. Back to the earlier part of the article, I have mentioned that those early adopters are probably audiophile. They would love to explore more about the product and Super X-Fi App could be the channel for them to do so. For instance, Super X-Fi app could also be a tool to fine-tune their sound profile after the mapping process. Giving the control back to user may not be necessary a bad thing. These data could be valuable and form an important customers’ insights that could further be used in future product development.

Build a Brand Around Super X-Fi

During my interview with Nikkei Asian Review, I said, “Creative as a brand is not selling very well. It is seen as value for money rather than a name for high tech equipment”. Although the Super X-Fi Amp is selling well, my view on Creative’s branding strategy remains unchanged since then. I believe it is important to run SXFI Pte Ltd like a startup and dissociate it from any Creative’s branding strategies.

Things look positive for Super X-Fi. There is no need to tag along Creative’s brand and worse, it might backfire Super X-Fi’s branding strategies in the future.

Making Frienemy is the Way to Go

The goal is to make Super X-Fi a standard in the headphone market. In general, consumers switch brands because they just love to have choices. Keeping Super X-Fi proprietary to only Creative’s products won’t stop consumers from switching; instead, forming partnership with other headphone makers to bring Super X-Fi’s experience to the mass makes make more commercial sense for Creative.

The idea is to establish new standard in the audio product market. Once that is established, Creative can spread its tentacles to even wider spectrum of industries be it music, movie or gaming.

Key Takeaway — Users’ Experience and Data

Data is the only way for Creative to fend off competition in the headphone market. Imagine a use case of an XXX brand headphone that is Super X-Fi certified and it must be activated by Super X-Fi app on the phone.

Community-based marketing builds brand value through interaction with the users. This interaction provides data of what customer wants. Engage, Entice & Empower users in the community is the only long-term branding strategies for Super X-Fi.


Originally published at The Neo Dimension.