Apple Marketing Strategy: 8 Precious Lessons to Learn
Honestly, when it comes to building a successful brand, everyone may think of Apple instantly. Regardless of how much criticism the brand had encountered for the prices of its tech innovation, Apple still makes the world eager and longing for its newest product launches.
Apple has truly become the benchmark for product marketing from which other companies desire to learn. How can the company earn huge revenue and garner such an enviable reputation?
Today let us show you 8 efficient marketing strategies from Apple that you can apply to your own business.
Table of Contents
- A Brief Introduction to Apple
- Apple Marketing Mix
- Apple Marketing Strategy: 8 Precious Lessons to Learn
- 1. Keep marketing and products simple
- 2. Build an experience ecosystem
- 3. Talk to the audience in their language
- 4. Create a community of customers
- 5. Prevent price wars by highlighting your special value proposition
- 6. Organize sales and marketing by customers, not products
- 7. Utilize customer-based metrics
- 8. Think globally, act locally
- The Bottom Line
A Brief Introduction to Apple
- Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne together created Apple in 1976, releasing first the Apple I and then the Apple II.
- Apple went public in 1980, but Jobs finally left-only to return a few years later successfully.
- The Apple company’s success derives from a strategic vision that went beyond simple desktop computing to produce mobile devices and wearables.
- Performance and design are the main factors leading to its continued success.
The iMac was the start when Apple launched a set of hit items that reflected the new concentration on elegance and user experience. These covered the iPod, iPhone, iBook, the MacBook Air, and the iPad. The iPod became the most dominant one in MP3 players, and the iPhone got released and then took the lead in the smartphone market. The iPad then persuaded millions of customers that they needed another screen to absorb content.
All these devices were evaluated as being better in design and quality than competing items. Jobs conducted ongoing research on design and conveyed the whole culture of Apple into the art of design.
Another point he brought Apple is the ease of use. After several minutes of using the wheel on an iPod or tapping icons on an iPad, these fresh forms of controls became part of the simplicity that makes Apple attractive. Now each product update from Apple is expected by the media and general public, plus the fans that the brand had from the beginning.
More notably, all of these items converted Apple into a new business model of building a tight ecosystem of software, hardware, and content. Apple did not make iTunes a simple program for users to move MP3s onto iPods. Meanwhile, the company broke the concept of an album by dividing them into songs that would be sold individually at a fraction of the entire album’s price.
A similar process occurred with software. A lot of popular computer functions could be implemented on Apple’s mobile devices via stripped-down apps on the App store.
Being the first company to conquer many of these markets, Apple created the stadium and defined the rules for the game. As you pay for movies, books, apps, or music on an Apple device, Apple gets a cut. It’s clear that this business doesn’t drive as much revenue as selling iPhones and iPads, where the markup is far more lavish.
That indicates it is the content you purchase from Apple that keeps many people buying again when their devices get outdated. Therefore, the content part of the ecosystem benefits Apple both in the short and long term. If you choose to use Apple due to its design or performance, the integration with your content will keep you there.
Apple in the 20s
Apple’s market capitalization achieved new highs in 2020, as the company had some successes and defined new objectives for the future. The company’s revenue from its wearable technology, like the Apple Watch, reached a record high. Apple also earned higher revenue from services during the COVID-19 pandemic, as contactless payment options such as Apple Pay became more widespread.
Besides, Apple revealed two big changes to the Mac in 2020. Firstly, Apple is moving the Mac away from Intel processors to its own custom-tailored chips. The new processors are based on the ones used in iPads and iPhones, making them more energy-effective. The brand new chips are able to ensure Apple’s laptops have longer battery life and more processing-robust than PCs.
Secondly, Apple is transforming the macOS so that developers can run iOS and iPadOS apps on the Mac without doing any modifications. That will drastically increase the number of apps available on the Mac and make it more competitive with PCs.
Apple Marketing Mix
In growing its marketing mix, Apple follows an approach that concentrates on premium branding. This approach includes making use of the premium brand and guaranteeing that all of the 4P elements (Products, Price, Place, and Promotions) support the maintenance of a powerful brand image.
For instance, Apple’s prices fit its premium brand, and consumers have the corresponding perception that the company’s products have high value and high quality.
This marketing mix element defines the outputs of the business organization. In this case, Apple’s product mix includes products and services or information technology. Nevertheless, the brand keeps expanding its product mix, generating the possibility of adding non-IT-relevant items in this marketing mix. The key product lines of Apple include:
- Apple TV
- Apple Watch
- Cloud services
- Digital content
These product lines go along with human resource utilization and business processes according to product-based divisions, which are a characteristic of the Apple corporate structure. The Mac product line consists of desktop and laptop computers of different sizes for various market segments. Meanwhile, the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple Watch are mobile devices with similar functions to those of Mac items.
This element of the marketing mix indicates that the brand operates in the customer electronics items. In the company’s existing strategic management approaches, the Digital Content product line consists of e-books, digital music, games, and videos. Apple operates in the digital content distribution industry via Digital Content, Apple TV, and Software (mobile apps).
This element determines prices, price points, and price ranges for the company’s goods. The brand follows the pricing strategies below:
- Premium pricing strategy
- Freemium pricing strategy
The premium pricing strategy refers to selling products at a premium price. Theoretically, a premium is an amount applied in addition to the typical or common price. Apple decides to set high prices for its products. For instance, iPhones are more expensive than Samsung smartphones. The brand uses premium pricing in consolidation with premium branding and creative innovation. Such consolidation ensures competitiveness. Creative innovation is reinforced via Apple’s organizational culture.
The company also applies the freemium pricing strategy, involving “free” and “premium” pricing combined in one strategy. Some Apple products are free, but consumers need to pay to unlock better features. For instance, the brand provides 5-gigabyte iCloud storage without any cost. However, if customers want to have more storage capacity, a recurring fee is required.
The Place element includes the selection of suitable places or venues through which the company allocates its goods. Apple’s business case includes company-owned locations and other parties that the company authorizes to allocate its goods. Here’re places included in Apple’s distribution strategy:
- Apple Store locations
- Company-owned website and online stores
- Authorized sellers
- Telecommunications companies
As a subsidiary of Apple Inc, Apple Store operates physical stores selling the company’s products with related items from other manufacturers. For instance, these stores sell MacBook units and peripheral devices from other suppliers. Plus, people can purchase products via Apple’s website and online stores for desktop and mobile devices. Apps, movies, music, and other forms of digital content are offered via online stores, such as the App Store and the iTunes Store. The addition of these online distribution channels helps maximum global market reach.
Moreover, authorized sellers open stores in different strategic locations, such as shopping malls in various markets across the globe. These sellers can be large retail firms like Best Buy and Walmart. Some sell via their own stores and seller accounts on Amazon.
Furthermore, the company does work with diverse telecommunication companies, like Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, which provide iPhone units integrated into their telecommunication server packers available to users in local or regional target markets. Hence, Apple’s marketing mix is thorough in making use of online and offline distribution channels.
The last element is Promotions. It defines the communication tactics that the company utilizes to access its target audience. Apple markets its products in multiple ways via numerous communication channels and parties. When it comes to addressing this 4P element, the company highlights the premium brand image and high quality of its goods. Here’re communication tactics in Apple’s promotional mix:
- Personal selling
- Sales promotion
- Public relations
Apple’s marketing mix involves advertising, such as on Google’s digital advertising network and on technology news websites. The company partners with different prominent websites to advertise and market Apple items. Plus, the company leverages personal selling in the form of Apple Store employees who offer product-specific information in the aim of encouraging store visitors to make a purchase.
Additionally, this marketing mix includes sales promotion, which usually occurs at the Apple Store locations and authorized reseller locations. For instance, several locations provide old models at discounted prices as bundled with more pricey items.
The company also uses public relations to optimize its corporate image. For example, Apple Events, leaks of brand-new product features, press releases, and exclusive interviews are carefully implemented to enhance positive publicity. Plus, the brand also has a number of initiatives like ConnectED, aiming to boost formal education outcomes while marketing the business and its products.
Apple Marketing Strategy: 8 Precious Lessons to Learn
1. Keep marketing and products simple
Technology customers are often overwhelmed. Overwhelming can lead to confusion in a marketing mix.
Apple decreases that customer confusion by streamlining their web and sales copy. They entirely avoid jargon or industry terms. They choose to use simple, clear words, and they continually emphasize the benefits that customers really need and will be interested in. This is part of their excellence in content marketing: using high-tech without high-tech terms.
Apple keeps it simple, and their consumers would give them loyalty with a market share that is unpredictable.
In addition, Apple also applies this principle in the ads. Do you remember classic Mac vs PC?
What Apply tries to impart is not specifications and features but how the product can transform your life and make it easier.
They also bring this philosophy of “simple is better” via their product lines. They don’t overwhelm potential consumers with numerous options. An Apple retail store is tailored for test driving items, not taking boxes.
Even the products themselves are kept smooth and minimal, with simple color schemes and uncluttered design. The names are brief and easy to remember, covering the “app store” that has contributed to giant successes for third-party partners.
2. Build an experience ecosystem
Apple has maintained a significant focus on the customer experience. Each customer touchpoint (items, the site, ads, app store, and retail store) brings a consistent Apple experience.
Over the last decade, Apple has dramatically developed the areas where the Apple experience belongs to daily life. By motivating app builders but enforcing standards, Apple guarantees that the universe of Apple-mediated behaviors constantly grows.
By changing product form factor and faction from computing in your pocket or on your wrist, to paying for all your spendings, unlocking your hotel room, managing all of your household electronics, reminding you of your calorie consumption, … all of these experiences are integrated and included in an accessible ecosystem of complementary items.
Moreover, Apple has specialized in innovation beyond the core by establishing infrastructure to run this ecosystem in a secure and smooth fashion. The most tangible example is in Apple stores. The company flipped over traditional retailing wisdom when it launched its store, putting experience before selling. It’s continually building on that success by further eliminating “store” from its retail branding.
3. Talk to the audience in their language
It’s not true that Apple doesn’t talk about product specifications and technical information. In fact, each product page on the Apple site does include these things.
However, they place it below-the-fold. Customers visiting Apple’s site first need to scroll past stunning product photos and large-font simple copy that demonstrate the products’ benefits. Apple customers will not find complicated words like gigahertz or megabytes. They find simple and understandable words, such as “LED backlighting”, “retina display”, and “edge to edge glass”.
The company comprehends its customers deeply and has increased loyalty in their market share. They know how to communicate with them in a language that makes them feel comfortable, not bewildered or overwhelmed.
The products themselves express their relevance to the customers’ lives. For example:
- The iPhone is not just a smartphone - it helps you transfer the power of an Apple computer to your phone.
- The iMac is not just a computer - it lets you make your computing experience interesting and convenient.
- The iPod is not just a music player and storage device - it allows you to keep hours of music in your pocket.
4. Create a community of customers
Apple has been building one of the most diehard fan bases for any brand anywhere worldwide.
The fans who camp out for the latest product releases may take up a small percentage of Apply customers overalls, but the type of fanaticism and enthusiasm are scarce.
Apple has constructed a brand personality and culture that’s fun, cool, and friendly. Apple’s marketing strategies also make customers want to belong to that community. Do you remember an Apple ad campaign - Think different?
The ad began with a voiceover narration that said, “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.” Have we had these feelings in our lives, haven’t we?
Apple cleverly availed of the university of that self-perception, which made its customer assume that the brand knows them well.
Even small brands can create a community of committed users or customers. You can begin establishing a community before you even sell your first product.
5. Prevent price wars by highlighting your special value proposition
Some businesses believe that they need to compete on price. However, in fact, competing on price can harm your business. Apple understands this and has never wavered on its pricing strategy.
Reducing prices and competing on price may result in a race to the bottom. For instance, if you’ve ever seen job boards for freelancers, you might find some strange things. For some websites, the going rate for a blog post is $10 or less!
This might seem to be a good idea, but it’s really short-sighted when growing the marketing share. The saying “You get what you pay for” has never been more true than when entrepreneurs and freelancers struggle to underbid each other. Content marketing needs quality, and it will be challenging to get that for such low rates.
Your $10 post will be poorly written, without any thorough research or persuasive data to support opinions. Even Copyscape cannot save you from junk content. The basis of content marketing is quality content as part of a marketing mix.
Hence, let’s do what Apple does. Apple specializes in its UVP (unique value proposition). That means fantastic design works out of the box with ever-smaller packaging. It’s an excellent marketing strategy acquiring juice across social media and is a competitive benefit for Apple and its market share.
For example, there are two similar laptops with i5 core processors and a 13.3’’ display. The PC version - a Dell Inspiron is priced at $750. Meanwhile, Apple’s Macbook Pro costs more than $1000.
So how can Apple retain its fans with such a high pricing strategy like that?
It’s because the company doesn’t think of PCs as competition. While others concentrate on a single killer feature via a tremendous amount of content marketing, Apple specializes in the whole product.
6. Organize sales and marketing by customers, not products
Apple focuses on four key B2B customers - government, education, SME, and enterprise. For the various SME and enterprise segments, the company manages its sales teams according to the industry served, not products sold.
Salespeople will work on teams that concentrate on multiple types of customers. For example, a former biomedical engineer who has worked in hospitals might be appointed to small-to-medium-sized accounts in healthcare. In the meantime, a sales rep with experience doing financial services might be appointed to work on a team selling thorough solutions to banks and credit unions.
This approach’s advantage is that it guarantees the salesperson really comprehends the customer and can provide solutions from the Apple portfolio to best satisfy customer requirements.
Similarly, Apple hires sales reps for its retail stores from all classes of society. This way, the company can represent every type of person that enters an Apple store and thereby connect more closely.
7. Utilize customer-based metrics
In most stores, the salesperson works intensely to up-sell or cross-sell, leaving customers bewildered and annoyed. Since 2007, Apple has applied the Net Promoter Score (NPS) - an index that assesses the willingness of customers to suggest a company’s products to others - as an important indicator of success and of a customer’s brand loyalty.
Apple takes control over nearly all 500 retail locations and its staff using NPS scores. NPS feedback is accumulated and shared with store teams every day. All negative feedback is responded within 24 hours with a personal call from a store manager. Moreover, NPS is applied to direct decisions ranging from employee promotions to long-term strategy.
Apple’s success with NPS doesn’t show that the metric addresses all issues. Every company needs to be watchful about sales and marketing staff “managing to the metric”. Moreover, the simplest way for sales and marketing to enhance NPS scores is to drop effective prices, destroying the company’s bottom line. Apple has never become a victim to this practice and instead keeps on building value from quality rather than from price.
8. Think globally, act locally
Suppose you’re in Milan or Macao, Brussels or Beijing. In that case, You’ll find the iPhone’s standard appealing design, minimalism, and ease of use that attract the world while introducing the Apple experience with local features vital to customers.
For instance, one Apple store in Paris is located in a Haussmann-style building to demonstrate Parisian’s architectural preferences. Even though the red core does not belong to Apple, the company in China has created red packaging promotions during Chinese New Year to better interact with the market.
Such marketing and product activities have helped Apple preserve its brand identity while strikingly rocketing sales to more than 100 countries. In the same vein, whereas Apple guarantees its e-commerce website has a uniform look and branding no matter what country, it has worked with translators and copyrights to ensure local ease of understanding.
Apple can triumphantly create exceptions to the brand rules because it has made enormous efforts to establish the brand ethos and experience into everything. The brand is strictly conformed to during the organization that local decisions can be reliable.
Toyota is also another example of a company that can manage to “think globally, act locally”. The brand works tirelessly to make sure that the brand and culture has been internalized by every individual within the firm. If there isn’t that baseline, local actions corrode global consistency, and the brand starts to splinter.
The Bottom Line
One of the quickest ways to reach any goal is to learn from those who’ve successfully attained that same objective before. The app store and their retail stores of Apple become a gold standard for any modern business that desires to build an avid fan base and super-loyal consumers who will refer their friends.
The key is to learn from Apple, not mimic it. Every company is a separate entity. You learn from Apple marketing strategies and build your own campaign to scale up your business.
Wish you all the best of luck!