When the Apple Store opened in Sydney recently, eager patrons queued in the cold to be among the first to claim this iconic brand experience. When Grand Theft Auto 4 was launched, Ebay demand was already at a record high before the first products were available for sale. When Radiohead released 'In Rainbows'; direct to market (and at a price aligned to individual demand), even Baby Boomers with no previous interest in the band found themselves compelled to download the album. Not to mention the rush of pre-adolescent Harry Potter fans literally mobbing bookstores around the globe like delirious Beatles fans did forty years earlier in the rush to buy the last instalment in the famous JK Rowling series. This paper examines the idea of 'Anticipation Marketing': the phenomenon in which demand for products and services is not only enabled, but often peaking prior to their availability in market. Whilst this phenomenon is hardly new, it is peculiar in many ways, including the extraordinary fervour that can be created, the immediacy of demand and the apparent lack of advertising or overt brand communications in many instances. In this paper, the authors begin by examining 'Anticipation Marketing' using case studies and semiotics to identify the key success conditions and principles that help us to understand these market experiences. We then look to understand it further through the application of traditional and emergent qualitative techniques (in-depth interviews, online blogging, online qual) across a number of consumers and category experiences. Finally, we use these insights about successful anticipation marketing to design an experimental piece of consumer co-creation to test whether anticipation marketing can extend beyond technology, fashion and creative realms into everyday product or services marketing. By reading the paper, readers will have gained fresh, empirical insight into how anticipation is created and, specifically, how modern online communities and forms of emergent consumer dialogue can (or can't) be used to generate stronger demand than ever for consumer products or services.
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