A great man and an unrivaled brandologist, Steve Jobs, passed away. His death also caused intrigue: the public is worried, but what will happen next? Anxious brokers are painfully reacting to any news, the “scholars” again voiced their voice, looking for the religious background in the attributes of the Apple brand and recalling forgotten scripture quotes. However, during his lifetime, Jobs himself added fuel to the fire, suggesting to the public that Apple marketing is himself. Therefore, the audience, even far from marketing, is concerned about the question: Does the company understand the real reasons for the success of its own brand? Will Apple be able to continue the line of the founding father and support the cult of his name? This is what is behind all attempts to explain the popularity of the brand. Let’s try and we will voice our answer. Moreover, it is able to help our own business. Let’s check out Why is Apple such a strong brand?
Inexplicable and incredible successes of Apple
The fact that Apple produces and sells more than just devices has become a kind of commonplace in the marketing world. Apple allows itself a very high margin on products that many other manufacturers of the mass high-tech market have not dreamed of. At the same time, Apple’s market share remains the ultimate dream for everyone. iPod players dominate the North American market with a 75% share. The iPhone occupies about 20% of the smartphone market in the world (more than 20 million units were sold only in the 2nd quarter of 2011, in total – about 150 million). Apple computers occupy more than 90% of the computer market for more than $ 1,000. The iPad has spawned a new market and has taken an absolutely dominant position with a share of 70% to 90%. Is this not a phenomenal success?
Now let us take a look at the competitors. Many could not sleep because of the success of the iPod, and finally, Microsoft itself took up the “killing” of the iPod, on September 14, 2006, providing the Zune device, a media player with similar functionality, and in some cases, surpassing its potential “victim”. Even its own online content store zune.net was created (similar to itunes.com). A year later, the device from Microsoft was only in the 5th dozen of the ranking of Amazon.com. First on the list is the same iPod. Currently, the Zune project is closed.
How many iPhone “killers” were there? To begin with, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said sacramentally in 2007: “The iPhone has no chance of gaining a decent market share. Not a single chance. Palm Director Ed Colligan echoed him: “Apple will not succeed in entering the market.” We see the results: the Microsoft phone rested in a Bose, Palm has lost its independence and is struggling to survive. The iPhone is the market leader in smartphones.
On January 15, 2008, Steve Jobs introduced the Macbook Air, the thinnest laptop in the world. The main competitor – Sony Vaio TT was soon withdrawn from the market altogether – sales of Apple’s new products hit it so hard. Of course, there were followers – Dell soon provided its Dell Adamo. which turned out to be even thinner (16.4 mm versus 19.3 mm). Already at the end of January 2010, Dell lowered Adamo prices to a mid-range laptop ($ 999). Obviously not from a good life. Meanwhile, after the release of the Macbook Air, Apple’s US market share increased from 9% to 14%, thanks in large part to this product.
However, history only teaches a lesson that does not teach anything: a number of large manufacturers are still trying to “move” Apple by launching ultra-thin computers called “ultrabooks”. Many also decided to compete with the Apple iPad, but the result, as you can see, is similar to other attempts to “defeat” the competitor – all the cream was removed at Apple. The rest are satisfied with little from the grown-ups’ table.
The phenomenal success of the brand is associated with the fact that Jobs created a new religion, and with the innovativeness of the company, and even with black magic. However, we see only one adequate reason: a strong brand with a high degree of customer loyalty. This paragraph eliminates the search for religiosity (although a high degree of loyalty partly looks like a religious feeling – the psychic roots of the phenomenon are the same) and other absurd reasons. You can even say that even innovation is not the reason for success, since Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the company has not released a single (!) truly innovative product. The iPod was not the first MP3 player, the iPhone was certainly not the first touchscreen smartphone, and tablet computers existed years before the iPad came out. It’s just that Apple did everything right in terms of branding, while others did just devices.
Real Trends and Real Brands
Apple’s example gives us a better understanding of the real trends in the market. The consumer has become very picky. He is spoiled by a choice. And he is very reluctant to buy those products that do not bring him that premium, those benefits for which he is willing to pay more than the average for the market. At the same time, if the consumer is offered something that corresponds to his ideas about what “is worth paying for”, he gladly opens his wallet. The world has changed, business is changing, it’s time to change the paradigm of attitude towards brands.
It’s time to admit that not all well-known brands are brands (and a brand always implies high customer loyalty and willingness to pay more than for an average priced product). And if the name doesn’t help sell the product to the consumer, it’s not a brand, no matter how marketers want to think otherwise. So the consumer decided. And you can’t argue with him.
Apple succeeded to sell products at a fairly high price while selling in large quantities. This happened solely because the company understood the real motive for buying premium or massclusivity products. They understood the reasons that lie in the human psyche, and not in the dry characteristics of productivity.
The first factor that determines whether a product can become costly or potentially costly is the demonstration factor. There are a huge number of goods, the consumption of which cannot be hidden – these are clothes, various accessories, cars, jewelry, and much more. The key concept here is precisely the inability to hide consumption or possession. Therefore, according to these details, others evaluate the person. And he, of course, evaluates those around him in response, and himself, developing his self-esteem and expecting an adequate assessment from those around him.
It is necessary to understand and accept that each person in essence is a herding animal. This “herd” has its own hierarchy, which is directly related to the principles of natural selection. And in accordance with these strategies of natural selection, a person is constantly busy striving to achieve the highest possible level in this hierarchy. For men and women, this need is different: men prefer to “compete” and “excel”, while women prefer “to belong to a group”, but consumer manifestations are identical. This is pure biology, therefore it often passes by the field of rational reflection.
At the same time, our life is fundamentally different from life in a primitive herd of closest relatives-primates, in which everything is straightforward and the hierarchy is intuitive. Therefore, in addition to achieving status, a person is busy with the question of what place in the imaginary herd hierarchy he takes. And, which logically follows from the described – a person is in constant interest to demonstrate the level of his status to others so that they also accept and appreciate this fact.
So there were status symbols, the niche of which is now occupied by brands. This is one of the most important instinctive behavioral programs of a person, and our voiced consent or disagreement with this does not change anything. There are too many animals in man…
At the same time, “status” is non-linear and has no relation only to power and welfare. Human society is multi-hierarchical (in other words, it involves a lot of options to stand out, show yourself, declare your special position). And when a brand gives itself up as an assistant to a person who allows himself to declare himself in a certain way in society, the consumer takes it for “arms”.
If the assessment of others is adequate to the expectations of the consumer, the brand becomes part of a person’s self-identification with all the ensuing consequences, love, reaching the loss of common sense, etc. But we must understand that the consumer does not like the brand or the product in itself, he loves only himself and what reinforces his ego, self-esteem.
Apple Owner Status
Let’s go back to the brand with a bitten apple in the logo, in which some see unhealthy analogies with the scene in the Garden of Eden. The most popular Apple products are just in the category of products on display – what is in sight, what they take with them: iPad, iPod, iPhone, MacBook. At the same time, the main advertising of these Apple products was “image-based,” that is, it conveyed not the technical characteristics but the image of the owner. “You have Apple – you are unhacked, you are stylish, you are cool, modern, fashionable, you are not like everyone else.”
Compared to competitors who did not offer anything other than owning a device, albeit aesthetically and technically advanced, Apple plays simply at a different level, inaccessible to competitors. That’s why all attempts to “kill” Apple mobile devices failed. Many want to be stylish and cool, and in the possession of the device, there are no special outstanding charms that you can love. Just look at the “Get a Mac” ad. Which human image is more positive? The answer is obvious. But this is the image of the consumer, who wants to show to others and to oneself.
However, the demonstration factor is not the only one that affects the fact that the product can be sold at a high price. There are many products whose consumption is not visible, but nevertheless they are luxury goods, are perceived as such and sometimes cost fantastic money. What else can affect whether a product becomes elitist or not? What is the most expensive in the world? Something that one can completely do without in life and that has nothing to do with the production of vital things: works of art, jewelry, collectible spirits, cars not intended for movement, and other, frankly “unnecessary” objects. That which brings pleasure.
A man loves to pamper himself, to give pleasure. This is also associated with self-esteem, but it’s like an inside look – “I deserve it.” And the more refined or saturated the hedonic aspect of the product relative to analogs, the higher the product’s ability to please the user, the more desirable the product, the more consumers are willing to pay for it. Of course, there are products that are intended only for pleasure (services of spa and places of relaxation, expensive alcohol, delicacies), but nowadays, when the consumer constantly wants something like that, the main trend of the last decade is to make the product more aesthetic, more pleasant, to instill in it hedonistic traits.
Looking from this perspective, the success of Apple products is not at all surprising. To begin with, we recall the rather old words of Steve Jobs that the keys of Apple computers should look like sweets that you want to lick. Judging by the fact that the majority of computer manufacturers, until recently, preferred to dejectedly jostle in the corporate market, promoting black boxes, not even trying to compete with the Macs, this idea was not understood by them for a long time. But it was understood by the consumer, which ensured Apple’s popularity.
Only in the last 3-5 years, the bulk of manufacturers began to make “pleasant” in appearance and touch devices in this product category. However, to say that this idea became clear is still premature. The same cell phones, even quite expensive, but pleasant to the touch, giving a sense of hedonism are still units. But with every Apple product, it feels like taking in the hand and not wanting to give back.
You may notice that Apple does not enter the markets of high-tech devices with which the consumer does not have constant tactile and visual contact. The company tries to do only that with which you are in constant contact, which you get used to and do not want to wean because of this unobtrusive hedonism. Even Apple’s approach to creating software can be called hedonistic – use should be simple, clear, and enjoyable. The tactile-driven interface here is a brilliant find and good help in creating a gamut of pleasant sensations.
However, the other equipment of the company is not far behind in terms of the pleasure of owning it. Given that Apple has a significant portion of patents related to the design of devices and interfaces, the success of the products was clearly not an accident. The rest can only try to copy. At the same time, it is even somehow surprising that the competitors were short-sighted: after all, history has many examples of the success of the same phones that were deliberately aesthetically pleasing, pleasant, hedonistic – LG Choсolate or Motorola Razr. But apparently, competitors do not prioritize or are simply blind.
Why is Apple such a strong brand
The above 2 points, in our opinion, are the states that Why is Apple such a strong brand? (once again we repeat the banality: the brand is not a logo or name, but a complex of identifiers, a product portfolio, promotion strategy and other elements connected by a single ideology). Reasons that go into the sometimes unconscious motivation of a person. Other reasons can rarely be the basis of such a high loyalty (as a rule, this happens only under the condition of total helplessness of competitors), but added to a strong brand, of course, give it attractiveness in the eyes of the consumer.
In pursuit of performance and momentary profit, other manufacturers are missing out on what they are doing “for humans.” The convenience of Apple products, their ergonomics, both hardware, and software is beyond the competition. To expand the range of Apple products that are in the possession of a particular person, this may be the main reason – tried the iPhone – bought a Macbook, etc.
The simplicity of the line
You can recall Al Rice and Jack Trout, who spoke decades ago about the dangers of linear expansion. 4 iPod models, in fact, 1 iPad model and 1 iPhone model, are much easier to understand and “understand” than a line of 10 or more items with complex alphanumeric characters. Therefore, we still have not seen the expansion of tablets and Apple phones. The consumer creates stereotypes – primitive ideas about the benefits of certain brands. After all, a brand is a stereotype. And to create a stereotype in relation to a single product under a particular brand is much easier.
Having become an Apple consumer, a person becomes a member of a vast network of users and services. The advantages of this path are now understood by many companies, creating gaming communities, content sales services, etc. But the example of the same company Nokia, which failed to “spin up” its service similar to iTunes, is indicative: the brand is primary, and the network of loyal consumers is a consequence of a strong brand. And already the content sales service is a consequence of the presence of loyal brand consumers, and nothing else. However, the Apple network arose even before the company entered the mobile segment – creative people around the world preferred Apple products, creating something like a closed club.
A wide range of accessories
Apple products are the leader in the number of possible accessories. This is again a consequence of the refined product design, and the approach to working with “subcontractors”, and the “hedonism” of a device that you want to “pamper” and decorate. But this fact also gives attractiveness, although it is not the reason for the strength of the brand in itself.
Communication with a person-brand (brand personification)
Steve Jobs, an active PR himself, his products, and successes became a cult person during his lifetime. A product associated with a great person is always perceived as “closer” than an analog that a specific person does not stand behind. It is not surprising that Jobs’s imaginary or real “legacy” is being actively exploited.
Indeed, they understood in Cupertino what they did not understand in the rest of the world. The mass consumer does not need any abstract premium, special characteristics, and content. It is interested in social assessment and its own hedonism in the first place. On which all other pleasant things are superimposed. And the consumer pays those companies that give it to him. And he doesn’t pay others who are only shouting about what kind of “strong brands” they are with the leader’s “killer” products.
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Until recently, Apple was able to completely outplay its rivals, as if not suspecting the real reasons for the popularity of the brand. But the question remains open: who was the grandmaster who defeated everyone else as first-graders? Was Jobs personally willing or did we see the result of teamwork?
Apple’s closeness leaves plenty of room for hypotheses. It remains only to wait for the next steps of the company management. If the company understands the above, we will see the preservation of the approach when expanding the line in the direction of electronic accessories, which should also be visible to the surrounding public and / or give the owner a pleasant feeling of ownership. If you don’t understand, we’ll see a race of gigahertz and megapixels that will clearly tell all fans: “the brand has died”.
Undoubtedly, the idea to promote new products under the idea “Jobs himself invented them during his lifetime” is very correct (Steve Jobs did not leave a successor, and his followers clearly fade). The process, as they say, has already begun. You can exploit this idea for years, translating the person of Jobs into the status of Jobs deity, overgrown with legends. But the main thing is to preserve the brand’s ideology based on “self-expression” and pleasure. Otherwise, legends will remain only legends without market indicators.
About the author
Melisa Marzett works for essay rewriting service http://smartessayrewriter.com/ as a paper rewriter and a freelance writer with much experience. She is a former journalist and a translator just as well. She likes getting to know something new and is always looking for something new to find out, to learn, and to share.