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Allen Adamson


Bose Frames Are A Smart Example Of How Savvy Marketers Zoom Out To Stay Ahead

Bose knows ears. The brand’s pedigree in creating high-end audio equipment is well-known and well-respected. It’s made them leaders in the audio category. Be it broadcasting sound, or canceling sound, their products are top class, examples of ingenuity and innovation.


Based on a recent product launch – Bose Frames - it’s clear that Bose also knows that maintaining brand leadership sometimes requires that you shift from the game you’ve been playing - and winning – to a totally new game. To do this requires the ability to zoom out – to look at your category and your consumers from a totally different perspective. Zooming out helps you establish whether you’re still even asking the right questions about what consumers want and need (which is, after all, the name of the ultimate game).

Good brands solve problems. The problem Bose and competitors in the audio category have been occupied with for the past few years is how to make the sound that comes from earbuds and headphones crisper or richer or deeper, and the design of the these ear-related products sleeker or smaller or more stylish.

Metaphorically speaking, these brands have been taking incremental steps in their efforts to make a better mousetrap. Bose, in its efforts to shift ahead of the pack, zoomed out of its traditional scope of expertise to determine if there was another, different problem it could and should be solving for consumers relative to how they use their smartphones and audio devices.  Was the answer even a mousetrap?

The question was a smart one and the answer equally so. There are times when people do not want to be totally isolated from the world around them as they tune into their tunes or podcasts or get information from Siri. In fact, to do so can be dangerous. There are times when it’s more than just the quality of the audio, itself, that is important.

What’s more, there are times when people do not want to have something stuck in their ears, no matter how sleek in design it may be. They want to be both ear-free and hands-free. They want to be able to stay connected to the digital world and stay engaged in the physical world at the same time.

Zooming out to gain more insight about how consumers interacted with their audio devices, and what would optimize the experience, enabled Bose to develop Bose Frames, wearable smart sunglasses engineered with miniaturized Bose electronics hidden in the temples.


They are state-of-the-art personal listening devices embedded in cool and classically designed eyewear. Audio and optical technology in one. Bose Frames allow you to stream music, take phone calls, respond to voice assistants, or get directions while you are walking, driving, or working, without cutting you off from what’s going on around you. Combining eye protection, wireless headphones, noise cancelling technology, Bose Frames are all about dual functionality, performance, and style. You hear rich, immersive sounds while those around you hear practically nothing, without the annoyance of typical earbuds. Just as critical, you can hear the kid on the Bird scooter coming up from behind you on the sidewalk, or the wail of the police car as it approaches the intersection you’re about to cross.


Bose knows ears, for sure. But it also knows that for brands to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive and fast-accelerating marketplace, you can’t be myopic. You can’t be hemmed in by what you currently do.


Rather, you’ve got to zoom out and get a broader perspective of how consumers are living their lives, keeping your eyes open for a new set of problems to solve.  Instead of asking, “How do we make the headphone better?” Bose asked “Is a headphone always the right answer?” Thanks to its inventiveness and ingenuity in technology and in branding, Bose zoomed out and zoomed in on a totally new category to shift itself ahead.

This article originally appeared in Forbes.

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