“If the computer was invented today, what would it look like? It would be powerful enough for any task. So mobile you could take it everywhere. And so intuitive you could use it any way you wanted — with touch, a keyboard or even a pencil. In other words, it wouldn’t really be a ‘computer’. It would be the new iPad” (Apple, 2018). This is the first thing that comes up when you go looking for an Ipad on the Apple website. It is captivating, simple and doesn’t use any complicated terminology. It is technology like no other and reminds you at the end exactly what it is. “When iPad was first released in April 2010, there was no other product of its kind. Obtaining information from July 2010 would be incredibly valuable to companies who are trying to put forward competing products”(Heisler, 2012).
Apple was the first company to release a tablet computer with such an impressive consumer appeal. The company was very much ahead of its competitors in many areas but more importantly in understanding the category of mobile electronic devices. In an interview with ‘Fortune’ a few years ago Steve Jobs stated “We do no market research. We don’t hire consultants. The only consultants I’ve ever hired in my 10 years is one firm to analyze Gateway’s retail strategy so I would not make some of the same mistakes they made. But we never hire consultants, per se. We just want to make great products”. However, this is untrue. Every month apple surveys their Apple users. When co-founder, Steven Paul Jobs, was asked about the market research that went into creating the iPad, he once again said “None. It isn’t the consumers’ job to know what they want. It’s hard for to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it”.
Apple’s marketing strategy is based on the founder Steve Jobs’ philosophy that consumers do not always know what they want. So instead of creating heaps of surveys on what customers are looking for, they continue to innovate their products with new designs and features and show customers what they want. Even though the company does not collect information on what customers want from new products or manage any target market research about what customers are looking for, they sure do market research on what draws consumers to Apple products over other companies. Most of their marketing is about selling their brand image rather than their products. The company will survey customers, from all different countries about what is making them buy Apple products over Android products from Samsung for example. They will ask about what features they use most and about the satisfaction they have with different features of the devices. The company is very secretive about these, and takes extra precautions to keep these studies sealed. Joswiak (Apple’s Vice President) explains that if the documents and information get into the hands of their competitors they would find out what drives Apple’s success. Whether it be the colors, the apps or battery life etc. It would take their competitive edge and the company would suffer because of it. Joswiak stated “No iPhone-related surveys or iPad-related surveys are allowed to be distributed to anyone outside this group without my personal express permission, which I regularly refuse.” However, if he were to approve such distribution of information it would be on a survey type situation and only if they needed to know. “The company’s research data is only circulated to a small select group of Apple executives. If this information was made available to the public, the company would suffer significant competitive harm and that competitors would subsequently be able to focus on the features that primarily attract both iPhone and iPad customers”. However, Joswiak released that one big reason they found that consumers continued to buy Apple products was because they ‘trust the brand’, that being the first or second most popular response in most regions.
China and the U.S. were big factors in the survey with 54% of people saying that the trust was a factor. Apple has a huge amount of customer loyalty, mainly because they follow through with what they say. In China, 67% of people who answered the survey said they bought the iPhones because of the design and physical appearance. This being the highest percentage across the group including other countries such as France, Germany and the U.K. etc. One of the least important factors being the feature which allows you to transfer music and other media across multiple devices. However, I found that a lot of people chose to stay with Apple because of its ‘ecosystem’. Everything can be used together. One person said he started off with an iPhone and it did nothing new compared to any other phone but it was the experience that made it so different. He then decided to give the Mac a try and then the Apple TV and from then on everything that came out made it into his everyday use. Data can be seamlessly transferred from apple product to product. Everything can be stored on iCloud which can be seen and transferred through any Apple device. The new feature of airdrop makes it easy to share photos. These sorts of things that cannot be done unless both the products are Apple, it is a continuous loop that many people cannot break free from because they have so much stored on the iCloud. This is where Apple gets its extremely loyal customers from. Because everything is so easy to use together and everything is stored and shared through an Apple system, customers have to come back.
The core of Apple’s marketing efforts is segmentation, targeting and positioning. Segmentation involves splitting the population into specific groups according to particular characteristics. However, targeting is selecting specific groups as a result of the segmentation to sell their products. Some of the common characteristics Apple looks at include appreciating quality of technology and its performance, design and service over prices. Positioning just refers to selecting from the marketing mix, what is most suitable for the target customer segment. In other words, the company creates an image of what they want their customers to perceive their brand as. “Apple uses a mono-segment type of positioning. Apple has positioned itself as a multinational technology company offering premium brand products with advanced functions for further costs”. Apple selects a target customer segment which is willing to pay extra for advanced features, design and extra functions. Apple uses social media platforms to gain attention of customers and provide informational videos sites such as ‘YouTube’ to show the added features and specifications of the iPad, emphasizing on the uniqueness of the product. In a way, customers do a fair bit of Apple’s marketing for them. By showing off the products on social media and sharing videos of all the new features online just emphasizes how great the product is and in turn, people go out and have a look and buy it themselves. From instruction tutorials on how to set them up, to pranks and test, all these videos are promoting Apple.
With all this in mind, Apple is far ahead of its competition in marketing. They have managed to create all their products so that they seamlessly work together, hence creating a very loyal customer base. They do not use any fancy terminology in their advertising which can confuse customers, but still have it available so that people know what they are buying. Their sleek design and system features are all a big part of what makes Apple so successful, however, it is their marketing that puts them one step ahead of the rest of their competitors.