How Catching the Wave Saved Apple Airpods
If you spend any time around young people these days, you may hear them use the term “flexing.” If you’re lost, this means that a person can flaunt his/her skills and/or resources in the face of those without those means. Apple products have been a catalyst for “flexing” for a long time now. Loyal customers make sure to grab up the latest MacBook Pros/MacBook Airs, iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches as soon as they’re released. Many secure all of the coveted Apple gadgets to show that they are on the cutting edge of technology while shunning the thought of using other products. Most recently, Apple faithful have been presented with a new item to add to their collection: AirPods. Buyers of the white, wireless earbuds don’t necessarily demand them because they are a superior product (though many do claim the sound quality is optimal). Many are buying AirPods because of the influence of everyday social media users who have produced a wave of quasi-bourgeoisie posts that suggest that having AirPods means that you are a man or woman of means and the unfortunate souls without them are beneath you.
The future for AirPods wasn’t promising when they first came onto the scene back in 2016. By this time, “cool” headphones were highly sought after following the emergence of the Beats By Dre brand. When the AirPods dropped, influential figures in the tech space brushed them off, citing that there were better quality wireless and wired headphones available. Noise-canceling headphones, like the ones made by Beats and Bose, seemed like a more satisfactory choice for music lovers. AirPods also didn’t seem like a practical choice of headphones because they are so small and easy to lose. Due to the meager size and weight of AirPods, it appeared likely that many would drop one or both AirPods while out in the street, rendering them useless and forcing the owner to shell out another $150+ for a new pair.
Though the experts didn’t see it for AirPods, a surge in content on social media showed that the people wanted them. Thanks to a myriad of memes like one by Twitter user @VonDeNiro that featured a picture of disgruntled rapper Earl Sweatshirt with AirPods superimposed in his ears with the words, “It Smells Like Broke In Here” (which garnered over 80K retweets), AirPods became one of the most requested items on Christmas lists everywhere this past season. The prevalence of these types of posts quickly made AirPods synonymous with affluence and it jokingly became common knowledge that you’re a nobody if your headphones have wires. Perhaps the culmination of the “AirPods = wealth” trend occurred when a well-dressed young man filmed himself “proposing” to a girl with a pair instead of a diamond ring in front a large group of their peers.
Though the AirPod meme craze was kicked off by random social media users (a large segment coming from the group known as “Black Twitter”) and took on a life of its own, it is still a nod to the marketing behemoth that is Apple. AirPods fall right in line with the brand’s clean, futuristic designs and quality performance. As with all Apple products, the exclusivity of the pricing played a role in the product’s success. Though there are high-quality headphones on the market that cost twice as much as AirPods, that $150+ price tag is still inaccessible to many in our society. In the end, Apple maintained its status as the “cool” technology brand.
It’s not over for AirPods. In the near future, Apple will be releasing new AirPods and rumors in the air suggest that they will be an upgrade from the original model. Among many speculated updates is that the new AirPods will also be available in black instead of only white like the ones that are out now. If you know anything about how meme culture works, having black AirPods will probably be exalted above the traditional white pair simply because they’re new and different. Nevertheless, get ready to feel like a pauper in the presence of royalty should you not grab a pair.
Roger L. Roman II | Managing Partner
Roger Roman is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Push Consulting & Marketing. He is an entrepreneur, marketing consultant, and angel investor. He has also been recognized by The New York Times, Venture Beat, Black Enterprise, LinkedIn, and others as an authority in digital marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing.