With Apples latest hit phone being announced a later today, we can sit back and marvel at how the Cupertino based company has developed a following that allows them to effortlessly rake in profits with every product launch.
Apple’s hype machine is no doubt one of the best in the world, each Iphone launch sees larger an larger cues outside the ever growing empire of apple stores around the world.
Rather than go into detail about the strategic photo leaks and rumour mongering that has become synonymous with Apple’s Iphone marketing strategy (which deserve bog posts of their own), lets take a more broad perspective and look at how the Iphone has managed to grow to become a symbol of our time and a cultural icon.
Strangely, since the 1st generation of Iphones, the hardware power has never been market leading, the camera has gained infamy for being substandard compared to modern devices and the processors to not match the power of comparable phones for a premium price.
So what is it that makes each new Iphone the must have accessory in the modern world?
Iconic status (perpetual marketing benefit)
‘The Iphone killer’, ‘the next Iphone’ and ‘Iphones biggest threat since…’ All roads when it comes to smartphones end with the Iphone, no doubt a revolutionary device, the Iphone has become the yard stick that all other app based phones are compared to. An iconic form factor that has been replicated by many devices since the rounded rectangle was introduced. Familiarity breeds attraction, and if every phone you see reminds you of the first time you saw your first Iphone, then being surrounded by imitators and alternatives orbiting around that one simple name than Apple have achieved the impossible and managed to position their product so that even their biggest competitors are pushing consumers to buy their latest invention.
Buyer training is responsible for a huge proportion of repeat custom, like Pavlov’s dogs, people are very easily conditioned to repeat certain responses when presented with a stimulus. This means that if a customer pulls out their credit card every time they visit your store, whether it’s a £1 purchase or £1,000, they are being conditioned to buy on each visit. So when Apple regularly releases a new Iphone, with exactly the same marketing strategy in exactly the same places year in year out, the people who have bought the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th (and 4.5) generations like clockwork are already conditioned to by the next edition, almost regardless of what new features or gizmos it offers.
Iron cage Investment
Have you ever tried transferring all of your Iphone data to any non-Idevice? Contacts, music, photos, diary everything; it is not impossible, but it is certainly not a painless process. Between Iphones, Ipads, Imacs it has been simplified down to a few button presses but God help you try and transfer it to an Android phone. This helps Apple by making the yearly upgrade decision a no brainer, take the painful route of manually transferring your data bit by bit, or losing half your contacts during transfer…Or buy this 100% compatible device that you know just how to use. Creating this iron cage of complacency is something that many businesses do, from supermarkets to accountants, the more difficult it is to switch, the less likely you are to do so, and the more likely you are to convince yourself that you have the best option available to you. As great as they are, Iphones are a necessary evil to be able to function in modern life and no matter how fantastic your product or service is, if people have to pay for it, it is a necessary evil to allow them to reach a higher benefit. The more you propose your company as the most convenient solution, the more customers you will attract, and the fewer customers will make the jump to your competition.
Training buyers and building an iron cage around your customers is fantastic, however if your product is awful then of course your customers will make the extra effort to jump ship. Apple may not have the most powerful or, in this day and age, revolutionary updates to their product line, but what they do have is a fantastic reputation for build quality and the form factor of their phones is second to none, this build quality is key to removing the barriers that consumers have to investing in new hardware, and helps Apple justify the premium price tag.
Just like build quality, after sales care and customer service is a core component to keeping customers coming back for more. At one time or another we have all been taken in by a clever salesman with a shiny new product only for it to break after 3 weeks and your ‘premium customer service line’ is disconnected. Apple pride themselves in their customer care, and so they should, they have invested heavily in support software and in training knowledgeable friendly advisors and now they are reaping the benefits. Customers are always asking ‘what if?’ When you can remove these objections after the sale, then you remove all roadblocks to them buying your next product, when a customer feels like you are taking care of them, they feel appreciated, valued and love to share this feeling with others. If you are going after more than a one shot sale, take a good look at your aftercare and you will always find ways to keep your customers happy and willing to share your company with friends.
You can see how everything about Apple is designed to position them as the number one choice for phone buyers, creating a familiar product that consumers are used to buying regularly that is both convenient, reliable and trustworthy give phone shoppers a huge incentive to pick up the popular item, even if it is a little more expensive and keep them coming back for more without the need for extensive direct marketing campaigns and provide your business with insights into what should be the cornerstones of your company; keeping your customers happy to pick you over your competitors.