The Fruits of Apple’s Success

In this week’s Thursday Night Insight, Julia Cupman takes a brief look at Apple in an attempt to understand how the brand has become so successful.

The iPhone 4 is currently one of the newest and hottest gizmos around, and so in demand that, here in the suburbs of New York, incredibly no Apple store and no AT&T store has one stock.

Back in April this year, Apple announced that it had sold 50 million iPhones so far, 35 million iPod touches, 450,000 iPads, and hundreds of thousands of many of its other products, bringing the total number of devices running on the platform to a staggering 85 million. At the end of April this year, the brand was valued at $83.1 billion – one of the top 10 globally, and up 32% from 2009.

A brief Thursday Night Insight isn’t enough to explore how this global behemoth has risen, consumed, and manipulated the masses, and so I will draw on just three key critical factors that I believe are at the core of Apple’s success:

A strong brand portfolio. Apple has built its own distinct empire: the “i” family, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes, iMac, etc. Its brand portfolio covers products in 3 different markets: computers/laptops, mobile phones, and digital music. This means that Apple is protected should there be a downturn in any of these product segments.

In addition, these diverse products have created a platform for new product development, enabling Apple to enter new markets relatively easily (as was the case with the iPad), while also substantiating its leadership position in innovation.

The various products within the Apple family have attracted mass market appeal. Apple’s strong brand portfolio continually nourishes the corporate brand, stimulating and feeding ongoing demand for its offering. Apple and everything it embodies has become a global icon.

A focus on innovation. Apple has revolutionized the consumer electronics industry in bringing the digital world to one’s fingertips – changing communications, maximizing information retrieval, and introducing new forms of entertainment. The company has stood up to giants such as Microsoft, Google and Nokia. In constantly reinventing the wheel, Apple is undeniably a leader in innovation.

Selling an experience. Apple has created a differentiated customer experience model in reconstructing the accessibility and fulfillment of customer wants and needs. Virtually whatever the customer wants, the customer can get, easily and cost effectively. Apps for cooks, apps for traveling, apps for managing money, apps for working out, and hundreds of thousands more. There is even an app that locates public toilets. In short, Apple goes far beyond selling a product; Apple delivers an experience, transcending communications, entertainment, and the infinite world of information.

Furthermore, the Apple image plays a key role in seducing and engaging the consumer – from the appeal of the bright, ultra-modern and inviting Apple store; to its attractive products exhibiting elegant design and cutting-edge technologies; to simple yet enticing packaging.

Apple attracts consumers through innovation, and then engages with them by selling an experience, locking them in to the Apple brand. Apple is so in sync with the pulse of the market, that its followers become advocates of the brand.

We probably all want a bite of the Apple. Understandably, b2b marketers might claim they are disadvantaged compared to Apple, as the likes of industrial products are a far cry from sexy consumer gizmos. However, key to successful marketing is the ability to transfer ideas from successful companies, and to adapt and build on these ideas. With that in mind, I leave you with 3 questions as take-aways from this Apple insight:

  • What does your brand “look like” today, and what would you like it to “look like” in 5 years’ time?
  • Thinking outside the box, and imagining that anything at all could be possible, how would you meet the unmet needs in your market?
  • How can the customer’s interaction with your product or service be transformed into more of an experience, encouraging them to engage more with your offering?
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