Apple: Integrated Marketing Communications Plan
Apple has been described as the genius of geniuses in the marketing world. Its founder Steve Jobs has been mythologized as a marketing wizard who somehow causes his business to flourish despite apparent setbacks of product, and other companies and marketing analysts have labored to discover what it is that makes Apple unique.
Apple is superior in its advertising. Their most famous ad campaigns include the 1984 'Super Bowl' commercial, the 1990s Think Different campaign, and the 'iPod" people of the 2000s. Along with their ads, and in sync to its 'Think Different' tag, Apple's aim has always been to be innovative. Their very first Mac graphical user interfaces were revolutionary in their day with their introduction of the use of the mouse and features such as icons, folders, audio, and fonts that have become a commonplace feature.
Apple's technique is to compete with several highly competitive markets (including Macintosh's PC) with innovative products that have a digital hub to them. These include the iPod, digital music distribution through iTunes, and Apple's latest iPhone innovation. From the brand architecture viewpoint, Apple's computer functions as the digital hub for other electronic products, maintaining a monolithic brand identity with all its products associated around the Apple name and epitomizing the Apple brand. The 'i' prefix, for instance, while used often (including iPad, iTunes, iLife, iWork, iBook, iPad, and iPod) is not used for many of the other Apple's consumer products (the Mac Mini, Safari, or Apple TV and Quick Time, for instance).
Incidentally, the names, it seems to me, also serve to indicate its market, with the prefix 'i' signaling a more 'cool', self-focused, generally adolescent audience (that identifies with the 'I"), whereas labels such as Aperture, Xserve and Final Cyst have been created, and therefore, designed to appeal to the professional market.
In fact, marketing analysts (e.g. Goodstein, 8/20/2007) predict that Apple is looking towards the corporate marketplace as its next port of entry. Initially launched for the business world, it had stopped competing for corporate attention during the 1990s, but recently various strategies, predominantly around the iPhone, seem to indicate that Apple is targeting corporate IT departments with the selling pitch that they can use iPhones to connect with clients via email. With its foot in the door approach, the iPhones may be a way of having Apple Macs back on the corporate table.
Apple's foot-in -- the door approach was noted by the New York Times in its description of Apple's 'backwards marketing strategy' where Apple gives away software at prices that are detrimental to themselves in order to induce people to buy hardware. As quoted: "While Mr. Jobs has repeatedly said that Apple makes little or no profit from each song downloaded, the company said last week that its iPod sales were crucial to Apple's financial resurgence." (Markof, Jan, 19, 2004). It is this halo effect (characterized by both the iPhone and the iTunes music business) that Apple uses to make its image appealing. The so-called iPod halo effect, likewise, is Apple's attempt to create a certain segment (as see, for instance, when it promoted its iMacG5 computers with the slogan "from the creators of iPod"). With its computer as its digital hub, Apple uses its electronic products to leverage that hub, and so it goes around in a vicious circle each aiding and abetting the other circumventing the tag of 'Think Different' with quality, modernity, aesthetics, and community as its context (Marketing Minds, online).
Nowadays, Apple focuses its advertising campaigns around special events and keynote events at conferences such as the "Apple Expo' and the 'Mac World Expo' where hordes of media representatives and spectators gather in order to view Apple's latest offering. Such events have been used in the past to announce products such as Apple's Power Mac G5.
One other point to notice, is that aside from its annual Black Friday sales (where products are lowered to 10%), Apple relies on its reputation for providing product quality and customer satisfaction in setting and maintaining its high prices. To that end, Apple's intimacy with its clientele and consequent strong customer franchise have enabled the company to keep afloat even when analysts described it as slaughtered by competition.
This familiar atmosphere can be evidence in its shopping
Finally, Apple is shrewd with its marketing. As Wired's Kahaney (in Goodstein, 8/20/2007) noted, Apple allowed the media and its fans to conduct their marketing for them, scaling down campaigns when this was the situation. Apple also keeps its marketing simple, revolving its message consistently around its implicit slogan of 'Think Differently' and around its overt slogan of Apple = quality and innovation.
Apple's Targeted Market
Apple has, from its very beginning, targeted the modern, cool, 'with-it'type of person who is anti-establishment, considers himself or herself modern and contemporary, and is one who strives for independence. To that end, Apple labors to promote a modern impression. It advertises itself as a 'green company' that cares about the environment. Apple's latest MacBook Pro-computers, for instance, are launched as "the World's Greatest Lineup of Notebooks," and Apple aims to produce products that are easily recyclable (Apple and the Environment, online).
Appealing in a major (although not exclusive) way to teens, Apple revolves around independence, lifestyle, innovation, imagination, creativity, passion, and the power to be yourself. It is also about simplicity and, through its focus on customer service (specially its so-called Guru representatives who are there to help the 'damsel in distress'), Apple presents itself as a people-oriented, humane firm. Its implementing a visceral sense of community with its customers (through use of its products) and excellent customer service causes it to be beloved and to popularize itself as creating an informal, familiar experience.
Goodstein (2007) assesses that its adolescent appeal lies in the fact that it meets a real need. Apple provided a cheap way for teens to load music legally for 99 cents a piece at the iTunes online music store. It was Apple, too, that directed teens to become creative and play with this music. Apple, accordingly, positioned itself as a company that had the tools, the wherewithal, and the interest in enabling individuals to empower themselves become independent, and create. "The desire to be empowered as a creative unique individual... is so important to Gen Y" observed Brickley, a consultant in research on youth (in Goodstein, 8/20/2007). It is this conduct, on Apple's part, that attracts it to the youth, whilst keeping itself true to its brand of innovation, empowerment, and quality.
Nonetheless, Apple's brands are not age-specific with Apple's advertisings targeting a range of ages, social strata, and professions (as stated before, it is speculated that Apple's latest targeted market is the corporate industry). Its iTunes represent various genres of music, and its advertising campaigns feature a diverse silhouette of age-levels and types. It is the brand values of innovations, individuality, and quality that Apple, ultimately, adheres to (Goodstein, 8/20/2007).
How Apple positions its products and services.
Apple hits for the emotion and for making people feel important and significant with themselves. They rebranded the personal computer making it attractive and fun, and more than one viewer has remarked that Apple's advertisements ( in contradistinction to most commercials produced by many other companies) are warm, inviting, and emotional (e.g., This is me (June 14th, 2010).
The slogan 'Think Different', created in the 1990s, has, arguably, remained one of Apple's most famous adverts. Structured around famous people such as Einstein, Gandhi and so forth, 'Think Different' has remained the basis, ethos, and guide of the Apple culture, although the phrase, itself, has been extracted from circulation. 'Think Different' epitomizes Apple's message to perfection and is characterized by its pithy sonnet which concludes:
The people who are crazy enough to think
They can change the world, are the one who do (Rosenbaltt, 2001, p. 107)
This sonnet alone is reference to Apple's strategy in that it markets itself by appealing to emotion and to Maslow's hierarchical upper ranks of the motivation pyramid, particularly the need to feel important.
Analysis of the company's communication effort.
Apple is admirable for focusing on one thing and making it great. They also innovate, are creative, and never fail in launching new ideas that are both original and 'very different' as their trademark. For instance, with the introduction of the iPod in 2001, the company's focus was on "putting a thousand songs in your pocket." The iTunes made it easy and legal to download these tunes to computer or iPod. The iPhones changed the way that smartphones were used, and, last year, iPads sold frenetically as consumers rushed to buy the latest innovation. Never one to 'sit on its laurels', Apple is forever rushing…
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