Apple does not have a dedicated and centralized customer loyalty program in its marketing strategy and specific promotion mix. However, despite this, it is interesting to highlight the fact that it is one of the very few companies that has built and maintained a strong base of loyal customers. Hence, with legions of followers who are willing to spend thousands of bucks on its products and time to promote these products throughout their social media platforms, the company has achieved a status and influence comparable to pop superstars and other prominent celebrities or public personalities.
Understanding the Strategies Apple Uses to Attract and Retain Loyal Customers: Unconventional Lessons in Building and Maintaining Customer Loyalty
Loyalty programs are marketing activities implemented by a lot of consumer-oriented companies aimed at rewarding customers for their continuous patronage. The specific purpose of these activities is to generate repeat sales from an established customer base and also give new customers a reason to become loyal to a particular company or its brand.
Apple does not have an established program for rewarding and encouraging repeat purchases. It has a similar sales promotion tactic that provides customers with some discounts based on an accumulated amount of purchases within a given year. This is the closest that the company comes to rewarding and encouraging loyal customers but it cannot be considered a full-blown loyalty program due to the absence of a customer database and active promotion.
Nevertheless, despite the aforementioned, it cannot be denied the fact that the company has attracted and retained loyal customers throughout the years. Apple has a fandom. Most owners and users of its products are passionate about the brand with little to no post-purchase remorse despite the premium pricing strategy of the company. Some have even demonstrated cult-like behaviors that help in promoting further brand and product awareness.
Apple is a master marketer. It is one of its strengths and a source of its competitive advantage. However, in considering its marketing mix, some of its strategies and tactics are unconventional. Understanding how it has built and maintained a legion of staunch followers provides insights into unconventional marketing principles and practices. Take note of the following:
• Premium Brand Image: Apple is a premium brand. This is obvious from the premium price schemes of its products. A premium pricing strategy allows the company to maintain a premium brand image that is both inspirational and aspirational. Owning and using Apple products have become some sort of a status symbol.
• Technological Innovation: The company rationalizes its premium pricing through the introduction of practical technologies in its products. The product strategy of the company is founded on research and development. It continues to introduce innovative products and solutions to keep its customers excited about the brand.
• Design and Build Quality: It is also known for its sleek and minimalist design philosophy. Apple products like the MacBook and the iPhone or the AirPods and Apple Watch are attention-grabbing. Remember that the brand is a status symbol. These products are also designed to be both beautiful and durable.
• Closed Product Ecosystem: Apple has diverse product offerings that complement one another. The entire product portfolio has created an interconnected ecosystem of devices, software, and services that create a seamless user experience. The closed Apple ecosystem encourages repeat sales from existing customers.
• Focus on User Experience: It is also important to underscore the fact that part of the design philosophy of the company is an intuitive and hassle-free user experience. Its devices or software applications are simple to understand and use. This increases customer satisfaction and creates a positive brand experience.
• Customer Service and Support: The company promotes further the overall customer experience through its strong customer service. Apple provides pre-sale and after-sales support through its physical stores and online support channels. This gives customers assurance and bolsters further customer satisfaction.
• Public Relations Strategy: Apple also has a public relations strategy aimed at promoting its brand further or enhancing its public image. This PR strategy supports its buzz marketing initiatives, event marketing, influencer marketing considerations, other promotional activities, and corporate social responsibility programs.
Based on the aforementioned, the success of Apple in attracting and retaining loyal customers or in building and maintaining customer loyalty is not through standard customer loyalty programs but through building and maintaining a strong brand. The company has an established brand name, a positive brand reputation, and a favorable brand equity.
The company has specifically built a strong brand through its product strategy. It has developed and provided innovative and well-designed albeit practical devices, software, and services that provide value for money. This alone has attracted customers. However, because of its premium branding, quality assurance, and emphasis on user experience, it has managed to retain the same customers and even expand further its customer base.
It supports further its brand through its various promotional activities. Strong customer support helps in giving customers assurance and satisfaction while public relations help in improving further its brand reputation and overall corporate image. These two are essential in both attracting customers and keeping them loyal to the brand.
The customer loyalty strategy of Apple is unconventional in the sense that it does not reward customers to encourage repeat purchases or continuous patronage. The company has stuck to the basics of attracting and retaining customers: focus on developing quality products and adequately promoting the value proposition of the brand to the target market. This strategy has transformed Apple customers into passionate supporters.