Apple computer was the pioneer in the personal computer market segment of which its share started diminishing with the coming of IBM’s line of personal computers. Its brand image drastically fell even with the launch of the Apple Macintosh range of products. Apple identified the real problem to be with its distribution channel conflicts which included the online stores and their individual own stores (icmrindia.org, 2005).
Apple Incorporated uses the brand Apple to market its products into the marketplace for which it’s well known computer line of business named Macintosh is competing in iPhones, iPods, personal digital assistants, cell phones, cameras and other digital music product line. Thus Apple forms digital hub acting on continuously innovating unique and simplified products and services. Apple Macintosh hereby creates a niche as a digital hub in the category of digital devices (Masterminds, 2008).
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The demographic factors and the cultural trends in the 1990s influenced the company to invent the power of technological mode of communication. This urge by the customers paved the new dimension to starting of the technology companies and was proclaimed to be the stage of Boom for the IT companies. The legal factors which affected Apple were to get intellectual property rights for its products. Although laws weren’t clear, export to certain countries was not allowed. The target audience was the business class people unlike today and hence emphasis was on the features and not on the style of the devices. As today it is the economic recession that is addressing the markets, those goods of Apple which are not the main products are been affected. Lower dollar made the products of Apple sell well in the foreign countries. Legal issues on privacy violation, patent wars and legal battle taken up by competitors have been the area of concern for Apple. The change today in the marketing of Apple ahs been with respect to the target market, the type of devices and the form of devices used by the present generation. They now prefer stylish, slick, light weight devices loaded with features. The quality of the product, the marketing strategies and knowing their customers have been the greatest strengths for Apple (oppapers, 2009).
Product Line: Apple Mac world has a diverse product line involving the Mac Book Family, Mac desktops, Mac iPod and Mac iPhone store, Mac Software packages, Mac Hardware and Mac accessories (launchpadonline, 1997).
Apple Brand Personality – The key area which Apple Macintosh stresses upon is the style of emotionally getting customers attracted towards them. The brand personality of Apple speaks of its lifestyle of being imaginative, innovate, passionate, a brand having high dreams and aspirations and the one showcasing power to their clients by way of hi-tech and hi-touch services. The company focuses on the people and in turn comes up with tailor made products for the customers in terms of product design. The Macintosh “Mac community” reveals a high level of brand equity and identifies the community requirement and satisfies them by exemplifying customer delight (Masterminds, 2008).
Giving a specific example of Apple Mac iPod:
Product strategy: Apple Mac is currently in the growth stage of the product life cycle where in people are very much aware and are purchasing the products with the increase in competition. Thus by increasing the number of channels, the company aims at increasing the sales and the profits of the company. The product caters to the middle to the higher level class of customers and hence they will be placed in departmental stores along with other premium products. It provides products and services to the Mac customer world (echeat, 2006).
Packaging – the product packaging of Mac products are differentiated from its competitors and are unique. Apple adopts a cost efficient scheme of packaging which will help in making the product provide functional benefit to the customers.
Pricing Strategy: Especially in the iPod category, cost base method of pricing is adopted which uses 65% as the mark up price value making the product efficient and thus instills quality in the minds of the consumers. The company works strongly on the pricing and the quality implications which indicate that higher the price better is the quality. This will naturally facilitate and increase the market share. In the global competitive markets, apple follows aggressive price cutting and lower product margins (echeat, 2006).
Promotion: The Company has its retail initiatives which help the brand to be promoted there by helping in the overall brand awareness which in turn help in the marketing activities and corporate sales. Apple creates strong advertising campaign involving television advertisements and magazines by specifically promoting it in the minds of the teenagers and the young adult target segment. The market research activities of Apple iPod helps in altering the perception of the consumers where in emphasis is given on reaching the target audience using the cost effective modes, the number of times to advertise to their target segment and how many times to reach them is the concern for Apple. It adopts a direct method to attract customers by offering some accessories and frills for half the price to gather more sales (echeat, 2006).
Place: Apple incorporates indirect distribution where by an intermediary or channel partners will help the process of distribution. This is assured by the channel members who help in fragmenting the inventory bulk, providing financial help to the retailers and facilitate the purchase process with ease. The company achieves higher gross margins while dealing with indirect sales rather than in direct sales. The distribution of its products takes place through resellers, wholesale distributors, national and regional retail owners, cataloguers and value added resellers and in major instances also indulges in direct sales. Online medium and word of mouth referrals play a major role in major products of Apple (echeat, 2006).
The distribution channel of Apple has been expanding and is improving its capabilities by reaching out to every customer. Apple has set up its own retail stores in various places and has adopted an Apple Mac-expert retail floor space for its reseller stores. It has also ventured into strategic alliances with other company brands like HP for selling its products and services. Apple has also managed to increase the number of online stores for higher accessibility and also sells its iPod collection through various other resellers who don’t engage in Apple Macintosh devices (Masterminds, 2008).
Overall Marketing Mix
Apple’s new marketing mix strategy has been to promote their products by word of mouth strategy through its vast user base. The company is promisingly using its users in speaking about the experiences they had with the products. This technique is called as apple-Marketing which speaks for Apple and vouches on the way apple customers feel (MarketingApple, 2007).
With all these newer innovations in products and creative promotion techniques, distribution has been affected a bit because of the conflicts that arise due to number of channel partners which exist in-between. The performance of the company is totally dependent on the satisfaction level of the distributors and the retailers as if they are not they could cease to deliver the products to the end users. This could affect the condition of the company financially and would hamper the operating results (Apple Inc., 2008).
The overall marketing campaign has providing tangible and quantifiable results in all disciplines of the marketing arena. Public relations and media campaigns, customer care handling, community relations, best of the best advertising campaigns, adopting partnership marketing, stimulating retail sales through sales promotions are some of the strategies implemented by Apple Computers (bcsc, 1993).
Customer Experience at the stores: At every Apple store, the customers have a rejuvenating and an environment without pressure of purchase. Apply values and the culture of Apple family is unlearned at the individual store formats. Each store has a Guru bar where in the visitors can get practical demonstration of the products and their services offered. The visitors feel a part of this Apple community every time they plan their visit in the stores (Masterminds, 2008).
In order to grow exponentially, Apple’s strategy of continuously increasing the number of retails stores is amazing. Thus reaching a figure of 103 in terms of retail stores and starting of 3 stores outside US in Osaka, Tokyo and London (icmrindia, 2005).
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