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A new ad strategy and twice as much ad spending helped Hewlett-Packard Co. sell 5 million DeskJet printers last year-as many as it had sold since the line was launched in 1984.

HP didn't change DeskJet's positioning as a lower-price laser printer.

That was derived from focus groups and produced DeskJet's marketing identity-"Laser quality at half the price."

That also hammered home to Dick Snyder, DeskJet Group general manager, what he considers the key to the brand's success: Listen to customers.

HP's market research, particularly warranty cards from consumers, told Mr. Snyder and company that more people were buying inkjet printers to use at home.

So the new strategy was to pursue home computer users and small businesses.

In fall 1992, HP launched the new advertising via Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, San Francisco. The effort moved the line into consumer magazines-Time, Newsweek, People and Sports Illustrated-plus radio and TV, with spots on NFL football, prime time shows and local cable.

How'd it work?

In the U.S., the market for inkjet printers doubled from 1992-1993, to 3.4 million, as more people started buying them for home use. And HP snared 60% of the market, up from 54% in '92, according to market researcher International Data Corp.

HP also gained from changes in retail distri-bution.

"Consumer channels took off" last year, says Mr. Snyder, 48, with buyers picking up DeskJets at such chains as Wal-Mart, Office Depot and consumer electronics superstores.

The movement home is not only helping the brand grow, but enabling new consumers to get involved-children.

"Kids are a lot more willing to take risks with things they print than adults are," says Mr. Snyder.

While color might be too avant garde in the business world, "kids have nothing to lose."

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