Apple is a master marketer. This is demonstrated through its reputation as one of the most valuable companies in the world. It is also one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The success of the company comes from its ingenious marketing tactics and activities that provide real-world examples of how to promote a product or brand. The entire marketing strategy of Apple can even serve as a framework for other companies and brands to follow.
8 Lessons from the Marketing Strategy of Apple
Lesson 1: Limit the Promotion Mix and Communication Channels
There are different channels for disseminating marketing messages and there are also different promotional tactics and activities that an organization can utilize to maximize target market reach. Apple does not need to use all channels and platforms for its marketing messages nor does it need to use all tactics and activities in the marketing playbook.
It is interesting to note that the company has a strong online presence but it has limited social media activities unlike its competitors and most companies. It also rolls out advertising campaigns from time to time but the volume of ads it produces and its advertising costs are minimal relative to other business-to-consumer companies.
The sales promotion of the company is also limited and selective. It does not hold discounted sales events although its pricing strategy includes discounted pricing schemes dedicated to specific market segments like educators and students. The company stirs clear from price bundling and penetration pricing to preserve its branding.
Nevertheless, considering the aforementioned, Apple limits its promotion mix and marketing communication channels because its marketing strategy prioritizes developing quality and innovative products over the quantity and frequency of its promotions. It also focuses on its key strengths including event marketing and buzz marketing.
Lesson 2: Focus on Promotional Activities that Can Stir Public Interest
Apple still maximizes media coverage and target market reach despite using few communication channels and its limited promotion mix. The company remains an expert in marketing. It specifically focuses on selected promotional tactics and activities that are historically proven to generate public interest in its products and brand.
Event marketing is an important promotional activity within the promotion mix of the company. Events and trade shows like the Apple Special Event and Worldwide Developers Conference have relished extensive media coverage and public attention because of the prominence of Apple in the business community and its position in modern popular culture.
The company has a media relations strategy within its public relations strategy. It builds and maintains relationships with media groups, affiliated and independent tech reporters, and content creators to ride on the communication platforms of these organizations and individuals and benefit from the advantages of digital influencer marketing.
Apple is also a master of buzz marketing. It rolls out ads for upcoming or existing products, schedules upcoming events, teases relevant announcements, and drops product-related terminologies in various marketing messages. Buzz marketing helps in drumming up interest in its new products and encourages online discussions.
Lesson 3: Leverage Established Brand Equity to Create Buzz
Not all companies can succeed in utilizing and maximizing the advantages of buzz marketing. Some might not even fail to stir the relevant amount of interest needed to create and sustain buzz. This is true for companies with low brand equity. The success of Apple in generating buzz comes from its established brand image and strong brand reputation.
The company receives substantial media attention and coverage because it is well-known across the tech community. It also has a pool of loyal customers that are on the look for news, stories, or content related to the company. Hence, whenever it is about to launch a new product and even after its product launch, the company attracts substantial public interest.
Apple is also intentional when it comes to giving people something to talk about. It creates a mystery around its ongoing research and development pursuits and future product launches or announcements by keeping things under wrap while releasing minimal product teasers. This creates more excitement and makes people speculate.
It is also important to reiterate the fact that buzz generation is dependent on other promotional tactics and activities. Most of the promotional activities of Apple like its events, ad campaigns, and public relations activities are designed and carried out with the intent to attract media attention, maximize media coverage, and stir online discussions.
Lesson 4: Product Strategy is an Integral Part of a Marketing Strategy
The original marketing mix model of Philip Kotler and E. Jerome McCarthy factors in product strategy alongside pricing strategy, placement or distribution strategy, and promotion strategy in the overall marketing strategy of an organization. Apple has demonstrated a strong adherence to this traditional and foundational marketing principle.
Some might argue that product strategy is a separate realm from marketing because companies tend to have dedicated teams or departments responsible for research and development. However, when considering the phases of product development, market research, target market identification, and value proposition are critical elements of a product strategy.
The product strategy of Apple is also handled by teams and departments separate from its marketing teams but its functions and specific goals and objectives overlap with its entire marketing strategy. The company gives importance to the fact that the market appeal of a particular product depends on its product features and benefits.
Apple specifically approaches research and development with practical innovation in mind. It believes that developing innovative and practical products is critical to creating a strong brand image and brand reputation. Its product strategy also takes into consideration the importance of creating complementary products and the benefits of a product ecosystem.
Lesson 5: Develop and Introduce Products that Can Market Themselves
Furthermore, similar to how Apple has demonstrated the importance of factoring in its product strategy in its overall marketing strategy, the company also adheres to the notion that it is critical to develop and introduce products that market themselves to the target market. This means that it approaches product strategy with market appeal in mind.
There are different ways in which the company develops and introduces products that are naturally appealing to its intended market. Consider its design philosophy. Apple is known for its sleek products. The visual appeal of products like MacBooks and iPhones has earned them free exposure to various communication mediums and channels.
Apple also puts a premium on designing products that are minimalist and intuitive. The user interface of its macOS desktop operating system and the iOS and iPadOS mobile operating systems are appealing to a wide range of customers who value a straightforward and permissive user experience and familiar design language.
The Apple ecosystem is also a customer magnet. Products like the Apple Watch and the AirPods work exclusively with an iPhone while products like the iPad and even the iPhone work best with other Apple products such as MacBooks. These products complement one another. It makes sense for a consumer to purchase other products within the ecosystem.
Lesson 6: Placement and Pricing Strategies are also Integral in Marketing
It is also important to underscore the fact that Apple is one of the few companies with a coherent marketing mix. Remember that its product strategy is an integral part of its marketing strategy. The same is true for its placement or distribution strategy and pricing strategy. The elements of its marketing mix complement and reinforce one another.
The specific distribution strategy of the company does not rest alone on determining and utilizing the most suitable channels of distribution. Its direct and indirect physical retail stores are not mere points of sales. These are product showrooms and service centers that allow store visitors to experience its products and receive after-sales support.
Apple products are expensive. It has earned a reputation for introducing products with price tags higher than counterparts from its competitors. However, rather than discouraging and repelling its target market, its premium pricing strategy reinforces its product strategy and has also helped in promoting its intended first-rate brand image.
Lesson 7: Create Experiences for Customers Through Relatability
It is one thing to create a product but is another thing to create exceptional and memorable customer experiences. Apple does both. It approaches research and development with customer needs and wants in mind and works backward using applicable technologies to develop and introduce products that solve customer problems and enhance their lives.
The company is also a master storyteller. Its product launch events and marketing messages allow its audience to experience its products through digestible narratives and compelling visuals. Apple speaks the language of its audience. It refrains from using complex terms and explanations that can confuse and overwhelm its customers.
Apple also chooses suitable distribution channels that will allow it to engage with its customers. Remember that its physical stores are experiential showrooms that not only showcase its products but also allow hands-on product trials, educate customers or provide product knowledge, and render relevant support and other services.
Its specific product ecosystem is an experience in itself. The company has a diversified portfolio of products that include consumer electronic devices, accessories, software, and services that complement one another. Loyal customers have even shaped and conformed their personal and professional lives around the Apple ecosystem.
Lesson 8: Loyal Customers Can Help in Marketing Products
Remember that Apple utilizes influencer marketing by building and maintaining relationships with various classes of digital influencers. Some of these influencers create content related to Apple or its products because there is an established audience for such. Others do the same but because they are loyal customers of the company.
Apple has managed to build, maintain, and expand a pool of loyal customers. This boils down to its product strategy and promotion strategy. Apple products are aspirational. The fact that they are expensive makes them a status symbol. These products are also cultural symbols. Owning or using its products gives a sense of accomplishment.
The company also turns ordinary consumers into loyal customers by relieving purchasing anxiety or reducing post-purchase remorse. Its products are known for quality and Apple has a reputation for its strong after-sales support. The company also gives its customers a consistent and seamless customer experience across its product ecosystem.
Nevertheless, considering what its products represent, Apple has loyal customers that help market its products on its behalf. These customers would be seen using an iPhone or MacBook in public or in various social settings. The visual or aesthetic appeal of these products also makes them shareable on social media platforms.