Kindle Marketing Mix Fail

As a device, the Kindle is groundbreaking but as a product in the marketplace it is an ultimate fail.

Allow me to explain.

A good product only gets you so far in the marketplace.  There are countless examples of great products that ultimately failed to achieve critical mass and more often then not, it has to do with how the product was marketed.

For a product to be successful (regardless of its quality) it needs to have a strong Marketing Mix.

The Marketing Mix is comprised of four categories (product, price, place and promotion) and while it is undeniably “old school,” it still holds value and works to emphasize the strengths/weaknesses of delivering products to consumers.  Which is why according to the Marketing Mix,the Kindle is no better than McDonald’s hamburgers.

Here’s a Marketing Mix scoring for McDonald’s (done by me). Scoring is 1-5 (5 being the highest)

Product (3): while their french fries are top notch, McDonald’s hamburgers typically do not rank anywhere near local hamburger establishments on sites like Yelp.

Price (5): their business model is all about cheap and they have 99¢ items on their menu.

Place (5): according to, McDonald’s has over 30,000 restaurants worldwide.

Promotion (5): again, according to, “Advertising Age estimated global measured advertising expenditure of $1.7bn in 2007, making McDonald’s the world’s #17 advertiser.”

McDonald’s total is 18.

Now, let’s rate the Kindle (again, done by me).

Product (5): as said above. Clearly, the Kindle is the gold standard of book readers and provides any number of advantages over paper-based books. The negatives are, quite frankly, insignificant to mention.  I’ll go so far as to give the Kindle all points in this category.

Price (1): this is where Amazon’s marketing team fail. The Kindle is a single-purpose device. priced at $359 (6″) and $498 (DX).  Amazon is about $180 outside of where they need to be on price.  In contrast, not including service fees, $299 is the price for a two-year contract iPhone 16GB, which for all intents and purposes is a working computer with Internet access that is the size of a pack of cards and a telephone.

Place (4): even though the Internet is ubiquitous, and anyone can get to Amazon’s website, if we’re looking at this from the standpoint of “the letter of the law,” then we have to deduct points because the Kindle is exclusively available on Amazon.Com. Meaning, if I wanted to get one right now, I’d have to wait at least a day for shipping.

Promotion (4): the Kindle is all over Amazon.Com, but that’s about it in terms of media buys. Minimal investments in print, television, radio or banner ads might have put this rating at a “3” had it not been for Amazon’s word of mouth promotional tactics including the spot on Oprah. According to Wikipedia, her show averages 8.5 million viewers.

The Kindle’s total is 14.

So, even though the Kindle is a better product then the McDonald’s, it’s a marketplace fail until Amazon can adjust their pricing and bump their rating up into the “16 – 20” range.

(alternate title for this post: “Super Karate Monkey Death Car)


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