Apple is one of our reference companies for marketing excellence and they’re the only company we know, who can actually charge substantial sums of money for the privilege of being allowed to attend a sales event. Each of the attendees at the company’s 2016 World Wide Developers Conference paid $1600 for a ticket to what is essentially a showcase for Apple products (albeit one with great entertainment thrown in). In spite of the price, demand was so high that tickets had to be allocate by lottery. Now that is what you call being enthusiastic about a brand.
Given that most companies would love to be in that position, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at how Apple got there. The first point to understand is that Apple’s success is very much driven by marketing. The simple reality is that many technological innovations are quickly copied. Hence developments which are genuinely ground-breaking, like the original iPhone, are generally soon followed by similar devices. These days, for example, there are plenty of high-end Android phones, which offer very similar capabilities to the iPhone at much the same sort of price and Microsoft is working hard to carve out market share for Windows mobiles by offering high-end specs at relatively affordable prices. Notwithstanding this, neither Samsung, nor Microsoft nor any of the other mobile players are in a position to charge $1600 for people to attend an event which essentially keeps them up to date with their new product launches. The reason for this is that Apple’s success is based on its phenomenal branding and marketing ability rather than just its technical prowess.
So what exactly does Apple do to inspire such incredible loyalty?
1 - Apple innovates. They were first with the iPod, first with the iPhone, first with the iPad. As innovators, they set the standard and everyone else is compared to it. Apple keeps reworking its devices in line with new developments (look at the way the various iPods have changed over the years) and where they see a future market, they are prepared to be the earliest entrants to it and to play a long game (such as with the Apple Watch).
2 - Apple are masters of design. Their products invariably look good and are renowned for their ease of use. This combination of visual “wow factor” and day-to-day liveability is hugely compelling and encourages repeat custom from a happy, established user base. Take the latest MacBook for example. While numerous laptop manufacturers and vendors highlight impressive-sounding specifications, Apple understands that many people simply want a laptop which does what they need it to do and which is comfortable to use. Hence instead of raving about processors and memory (which mean nothing to a lot of people), Apple devotes a lot of space and time to showing how they have incorporated a superbly functional and comfortable keyboard and an outstanding display into an incredibly light and portable device. The technical specifications are still there for those who want them, but they are by no means the main feature of the communications.
3 - Apple highlights value over price. One of the key features of Apple’s marketing is that consumers are getting a top-quality device which will improve their lives and which is more than worth the headline price. Apple has long since grasped the idea that marketing and advertising are about the customer rather than the product or service. This approach is ideal for the affluent market, which forms Apple’s core user base.
4 - Apple is all about simplicity. Whether it’s Siri helping you to organize your life or being able to access content seamlessly from any Apple device, Apple is all about keeping it simple. For today’s time-poor customers, this may be the most appealing feature of all.