Tuesday, February 27, 2017
Raspberry Pi is a non-profit organization based in the UK that produces inexpensive computer components for students and hobbyists worldwide. Their (awesome) mission statement reads as follows:
The Raspberry Pi Foundation works to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world, so they are capable of understanding and shaping our increasingly digital world, able to solve the problems that matter to them, and equipped for the jobs of the future.
We provide low-cost, high-performance computers that people use to learn, solve problems and have fun. We provide outreach and education to help more people access computing and digital making. We develop free resources to help people learn about computing and how to make things with computers, and train educators who can guide other people to learn.
When I first heard about the DIY Raspberry Pi computer modules, I had no idea that it was a non-profit dedicated to educating individuals about computer technology. In fact, I’m not entirely sure exactly how I found out about Raspberry Pi in the first place, but I’ve known about them for a few years now and have toyed with the idea of buying one of their kits to tinker around with. Possibly my Facebook news feed showed an article referencing the device? Or maybe Facebook’s (not creepy at all) algorithm targeted my profile with an ad based on my social media activities and stated interest in computers, video games, and robots. My own experience in discovering Raspberry Pi is an example of how broad data in digital marketing can help spread a brand beyond the initial core set of user segments identified by the company’s marketing team. This is sort of like traveling back up the “Long Tail” of digital marketing theory, where, in addition to reaching their precisely targeted market of educators and students inside the UK, Raspberry Pi products made it to someone like me who is interested in computers as a hobby. While Raspberry Pi’s prime marketing focus is educational organizations within the United Kingdom, as a side effect of incorporating more broadly based data culled from social media with their already defined user audience, their products are reaching more generally identified consumers worldwide.
Regarding the target education market, the low cost of Raspberry Pi products is especially attractive to underfunded schools with limited or no access to computer technology seeking to incorporate computers into their curriculum, or set up after school programs like Code Club. The international community of Raspberry Pi users that has developed as a result of Code Club acts as an advocate for the brand and helps generate greater spread of their products and mission worldwide – both to other educational organizations as well as to individuals interested in coding or computer technology.
From general to specific, Raspberry Pi’s marketing user segmentation includes members from the following groups:
- individuals worldwide who are interested in computers
- individuals with limited or no access to computers worldwide
- educational organizations worldwide
- teachers and students worldwide
- teachers and students within the UK
- Code Club members
These groups can be split into two main groups, which together have created a vibrant community surrounding Raspberry Pi products:
Interestingly enough, computer colossus, Asus, is planning to release Tinker Board this year – their own no-frills computer kit similar to Raspberry Pi, albeit with a faster processor and 4K video support. Unlike Raspberry Pi, however, Asus’s business model is profit-based. With a higher price tag, marketing for Tinker Board will likely aim at hobbyists, eschewing the educational or coding club demographic entirely. Asus also faces a large challenge as they lack any sort of dedicated community surrounding their product, an area in which Raspberry Pi excels on a global level. I’m curious to discover what impact Asus as a competitor will or won’t have on Raspberry Pi, as their marketing strategies and company missions are so different from one another. Can Asus build their own Tinker Board following by carving out a niche in the hobbyist market, or will Raspberry Pi remain the dominant low-cost option for both hobbyist and student alike?