Customer-Driven Marketing Strategy and Superior Value
Apple is one of the most popular technologies and smartphone makers on the market. It has achieved this position through one of the most appealing and strategic marketing approaches focused actively on the customer experience. The young generations and millennials which saw Apple’s rise to prominence in the smartphone industry remain the company’s target market, but it also has appeal to older generations with its simplicity and niche markets such as creative artists due to the tools it offers. Apple’s primary value proposition remains the superior quality of its products, which creates a lifestyle brand in an industry where it is highly unusual.
Building Strong Customer Relationship
Since Steve Job’s return to Apple and its entry, or potentially the creation of the smartphone industry, Apple has focused strongly on building a large loyal consumer base. Empowered by Apple’s early marketing campaigns of “think differently,” the Apple brand is synonymous with uniqueness, creativity, and the ‘cool-factor’ despite the company maintaining more than 30% share in Western markets. All Apple products, marketing, and services focus on creating that immersive and integrated ecosystem on a level no other software or smartphone manufacturer can resulting in a strong customer relationship that leads to people staying with the brand.
Similar to other international corporations, Apple faces a large variety of macro-environment factors. Apple has to manage political and economic stability, influences, and regulations, particularly between the United States, where it is based, and conducts the majority of sales, and China, where it manufactures its devices. There are numerous challenges that Apple has faced over the years, including issues with supply chains and pricing regulations. It must also maintain a leading edge in technology, developing and designing new iterations of its popular products to remain ahead of the competition. All this while having reliable legal support to protect its intellectual property, data protection rights, and other liabilities.
Apple’s organizational structure is an effective structure that contributes to its innovation, integration, and success. Apple’s corporate structure is hierarchical, with Tim Cook as CEO making executive strategic decisions. However, unlike during the days of Steve Jobs, where he held total control, the current structure allows autonomy for vice presidents, which lead product divisions. However, power remains at the top, and mid-level management has little influence. The weak functional matrix allows for inter-divisional collaboration while preserving hierarchy. This way, the company facilitates information dissemination for the promotion of innovation processes that are then seen in brand development and marketing.
Mission and Vision
Apple’s mission and vision are straightforward, but at the same time, ambitious. It is a product-driven focus but requires significant effort in terms of engineering, design, technological capabilities. This is what has allowed Apple to thrive since the days of Steve Jobs, who passionately pushed the company to perfection, allowing it to establish itself as a leader and contribute to innovation for a competitive advantage.
Apple’s brand is its biggest strength, a globally recognized name and logo that is synonymous with quality and luxury in technology. However, that’s also connected to its biggest weakness, which is high price points, making the products exclusive to some extent and unable to sell at high volumes, also less frequency of upgrades. Apple constantly seeks to enter new product lines, many of which it has helped create and innovate in new ways while expanding distribution. Competition is the biggest threat to Apple as Samsung has challenged it in the high-end phone segment while numerous Chinese firms are offering low-cost phones that imitate Apple and offer mostly the same features without the ecosystem at a much affordable price.
Apple’s marketing objectives strongly correlate to its marketing mix discussed later. As a commercial company, Apple seeks to increase its sales and maintain profit margins, therefore the volume of sales, particularly for new expensive products, is necessary. However, since the brand is such a large part of Apple’s reputation and marketing potential, marketing objectives also include sustaining that brand name, connecting with consumers, and building a better perception and reputation around it. In the end, this allows Apple to establish a competitive advantage by having the recognition that other brands struggle to achieve.
Apple is a unique company not just in product but in the way it advertises. It has a few ads that run on television or visual media such as YouTube, but it does not rely on them. Instead, it utilizes the strategy of product placement where their latest devices are used by athletes and celebrities as well as the buzz from positive reviews generated by experts, media, and enthusiasts around each release. Apple’s marketing strategy is simple as can be seen in all promotional material; the product is demonstrated and described straightforward, highlighting the UVP. Apple rarely advertises on social media as well, instead of posting (as an example) a good photo taken by an iPhone and without making a sales pitch produces the desire to purchase this product.
Measuring and Managing Return on Marketing
These metrics are critical indicators of the success of marketing. Lately, Apple has experienced a significant decline in virtually all of these due to competition. Sales and market penetration have dropped tremendously due to the rise of cheaper alternatives with fewer restrictions. Furthermore, in the smartphone industry, behavioural metrics are vital as consumers upgrade their phones periodically, commonly preferring to stay with similar brands but not may change preferences. Finally, Apple strives to maintain consumer satisfaction with its products and services, allowing for word-of-mouth marketing and contributing to people staying with the brand.
B2B & B2C Sales Strategies
Apple’s B2C strategy is well-known for being highly emotionally appealing. Based on the company’s mission, it creates products that change the status quo and then puts them into the consumers’ hands so they can do the same. Consumers identify with Apple, and it works. The company also works prominently on the B2B front although it is now well-known. It has close ties with education systems, offering its iPad and computer products for student education. Government systems also use Apple products for their high encryption security. Apple makes sure to take individual approaches to each enterprise by hiring sales experts with familiarity in the industry to devise a sales pitch on how the products can be implemented there.
While Apple was founded as a computing business, it has primarily transitioned to the mobile device market, offering a range of iconic products, each one creating a category in the industry in itself. Apple products are sold and advertised virtually everywhere due to their popularity, online and in retail. Apple maintains high prices, often above the competition for similar type products due to the value of its brand and high quality of products. Promotions range from traditional advertising to the use of word of mouth and internal ecosystem advertising which Apple highly benefits from.
Marketing Relation to Other Departments
Marketing is highly focused. It has shifted from a company marketing an idea and comparing itself to others, to simply being its own product and brand. The marketing always emphasizes offerings of the Apple ecosystem. For example, a promotional image of the new iPhone has Apple Music or the App store on screen. All Apple products have warranties or purchasable Apple Care, which drives consumers to its iconic physical stores where additional purchases can be made. Apple is a prime example of integration and interconnectivity between both, all its product offerings and all of its organizational structure and departments.