Marketing the Apple Brand: E-Marketing

Executive Summary

The use of the internet in marketing goods and services is known as e-marketing. Its proliferation can be attributed to the technological advancement in the modern world. As the digital era conquers humanity and with the rapidly changing advances in information and technology, marketers and advertisers gradually shift strategies in brand promotion and awareness to be in line with such modernization.

Apple Inc., further enhances their brand by injecting e-marketing as part of their corporate marketing methods in promoting brand awareness, introducing new products and drawing in more customers as part of the Apple user clan.

Though in the past the company adopted traditional marketing strategies in creating pull in the market, the company position itself as one of the leaders in the consumer electronics and mobile devices industry, it has adopted e-marketing strategies such as the use of online advertisements to endorse new products and services, announce promotions and the company has developed an online Apple store which enables customers to purchase goods and services without the hassle of visiting the nearest Apple store or lining up, products are delivered to the users’ doorsteps in a matter of days.

Apple Inc.’s has been popular in terms of its advertising campaigns such as the 1984 Super Bowl Commercial, the 1990s Think Different campaign and the 2000s iPhod people campaign (Apple’s Brand Strategy, n. p.).

In the past decades the company’s style of marketing can be seen prominently on their buying of print ads and TV commercials but gradually as the turn of the 21st century dawned, Apple Inc. has been using the internet as part of its marketing campaigns. In the “Switch” campaign of 2001, Apple used traditional TV and print ads in the campaign but decided to add the usage of the internet by directing users to a website where Mac myths were dispelled (Apple, Google tops in loyalty survey, n. p.).

Introduction

The turn of the 21st century has given rise to the popularity of the internet where information can be transmitted wirelessly through the World Wide Web. The information age has changed the way people think and behave altering the attitude of the market in consuming products and services.

On the business side, marketers and advertisers of corporations and enterprises have slowly adjusted to the digital era by using the internet to their advantages. E-marketing is the process of promoting a brand’s products and services over the internet.

It is also known and referred to as internet marketing, digital marketing, web marketing, online marketing or search marketing (Internet Marketing – How, When, Where, n. p.)The concept of e-marketing has a broad scope for it does not only include the act of marketing on the internet, but marketing through emails and wireless media can also be considered as part of its category (Gupta, n. p.).

According to Jaakko Sinisalo et al. (772), electronic customer relationship management (ECRM) and digital customer data are also considered part of the e-marketing scope. In his article “Internet Marketing: A Practical Approach”, Alan Charlesworth (49) mentioned that e-marketing unifies the technical and creative features of the internet.

Apple Inc., being a leading brand in the consumer electronics and mobile technology industry, will be the subject of this study where the company’s marketing strategies, especially those involving the internet, will be examined. Types of the internet marketing, such as Pay Per Click/ Impression (PPC/I), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) will be discussed in their relation to Apple’s marketing methods and implementations.

Also several business models such as one-to one approach, appeal to specific interests, niche marketing and geo-targeting will be tackled in order to have a clear understanding on how the company plans and implements marketing and advertising methods in promoting the Apple brand together with its products and services.

In addition, brief discussions with related models of e-commerce, lead based websites, affiliate marketing and local internet marketing will further be examined to see the whole picture of how Apple Inc. markets sell their goods and services and analyze the behavior of customers’ in their patronization and loyalty on the brand.

Company’s Profile

Apple Inc. is one of the leading technological American multinational companies founded by three college drop outs in summer of 1976. The company was formerly known as Apple Computer Inc. It designs and markets personal computers, consumer electronics and software with its popular product lines include the Macintosh personal computers, MP3 players called the iPod, iPhone mobile phone device and its recently launched tablet line, iPad.

According to the information provided in the article “Apple Retail Store-Store List” (n. p.), Apple Inc. software line includes the Mac OS X for personal computers’ operating systems, iTunes which is a media browser that enables users to download, listen and transfer music files, iLife suite for multimedia and creative works, iWork is suited for office work functions.

Aperture for professional photographers who wish to edit and manipulate their photos, Final Cut Studio suites to people who are involved in the professional audio and film industry, Logic Studio is suited for music production enthusiasts, the Safari web browser for surfing experience and iOS as the iPhone’s operating system.

Apple Inc. operates over 357 retail stores worldwide as of October 2011 in 10 countries (Apple Retail Store-Store List, n.p.). The company has also developed an online store where products and services can be bought at the convenience of the customers (Apple Retail Store-Store List, n. p.). In September 2011, Poornima Gupta and Rodrigo Campos cited that Apple Inc. has become the largest publicly traded company in the world by market capitalization (Gupta, n. p.). Its market value as of August 9, 2011 is $341.5 billion (Gupta, n. p.).

Apple Inc. was founded in April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. The company’s headquarters is based on Cupertino, California. It was incorporated on January 3, 1977. On January 9, 2007 (US SEC), after 30 years of being known as Apple Computer Inc. the company decided to remove “Computer” to be in line with the company’s expansion strategy in the electronics market in addition to its primary focus on the personal computers industry (Markoff, n. p.).

According to the United States Security and Exchange commission, “As of September 25, 2010, the Company had approximately 46,600 full-time equivalent employees and an additional 2,800 full-time equivalent temporary employees and contractors and annual sales worldwide is $65.23 billion” (US SEC).

Over the years, Apple has developed an exceptional reputation in the consumer electronics and mobile technology industry due to its broad artistic design philosophy and unique advertising campaigns (Apple Store, n. p.). The company has established a devoted and loyal customer base, especially in the United States which patronizes the company and its brand (Markoff, n. p.).

Among the numerous achievements of Apple Inc. is being named the most admired company from years 2008 – 2011 and was branded as the most valuable public limited company by Fortune magazine (Fisher 65-67, Colvin, 76).

Apple’s Online Marketing Strategies and Experiences

Apple Inc.’s brand strategy includes the usage of the Apple brand in competing with markets. In the personal computing industry, Apple’s Macintosh product line with its related operating systems and software compete against prominent brands such as IBM, Dell and Sony Vio, while the iPod is the company’s contender in the consumer electronics sector with the iTunes Music Store to cater to users’ need for music download and enjoyment.

In the year 2007, Apple penetrated the smart phone market with the introduction of the iPhone and more recently the tablet industry with the iPad computing device. Apple has also continuously expanded through the AppsStore of iPhones and iPads covering scopes related to magazines, books, games and applications publishing. The company is also competing with Google in the advertising industry with its Apps business and iAd network (Apple’s Brand Strategy, n. p.).

Apple Inc.’s product strategy for the past years has always involved the creation of innovative products and services which complement its digital hub strategy (Former Wachovia, n.p.). In the method provided, Apple’s Macintosh products serve as digital hubs for other electronic devices such as the iPod, iPad, personal digital assistants, mobile devices, digital cameras, and video cameras to name a few (Internet Marketing – How, When, Where, n.p.). The main focus of Apple Inc.’s product strategy is the customers’ experiences with Apple products.

The company’s main competency and advantage among other companies in the industry is its ability to deliver outstanding experience to its customers through excellent user interfaces. Apple based its product strategy on the said competence they posses through its products such as iTunes, iPhone, and the Apple Apps store.

Apple focuses on the emotions and feelings of its past, present and future customers in marketing the brand. Its brand personality is all about the lifestyle it may provide to its prospects. Apple’s brand personality revolves around the notion of being imaginative, free and liberated, innovative, passionate, as well as the having passion, hope, dreams and aspirations (World’s Most Admired Companies, n.p.).

The brand’s general theme is about people attaining power through technology. “The Apple brand personality is also about simplicity and the removal of complexity from people’s lives; people-driven product design; and about being a really humanistic company with a heartfelt connection with its customers” (marketingminds.com).

Apple’s primary marketing strategy is not about selling products but the provision of exclusivity among its customers. There is a sense of community among Apple users who remain to be loyal to the brand. The equity of the brand, as well as customer franchise exemplified by the company is very strong.

Its strong customer based has been essential to the company’s success over the past decades especially during the economic crisis of the 90s, and it has also helped the company maintain its premium pricing compared to its competitors. Apple’s pricing strategy has enabled it to survive against the low prices brought about by other IT competitors.

The personal computer industry has a small market, thus vendors tend to wage price wars in order to compete and survive in the business. Most notably, the supply chain and manufacturing economies of Dell has proved to be an obstacle to PC vendors with weaker brand equity.

On the other hand, Apple has further improved and advanced its manufacturing economies and supply chain management together with logistics and operations so that it can compete with those of Dell (Apple’s Brand Strategy, n. p.). Apple has managed to attain similar product costs with Dell but the former’s products are more premium in pricing because of additional cost advantage where the company has its own operating system thus there is no agreement to pay for licences to another company for Apple’s case.

The Apple brand is centralized on its promise of providing the best customer experience and satisfaction through its products and technology. In order to have more control over the brand’s image together with its product distribution and services, Apple has opened its own Apple Stores in strategic locations such as in high end malls and quality shopping venues to cater to the needs of its customers.

“Apple provides Apple Mac-expert retail floor staff to selected resellers’ stores (such as Australian department store David Jones); it has entered into strategic alliances with other companies to co-brand or distribute Apple’s products and services (for example, HP who was selling a co-branded form of iPod and pre-loading iTunes onto consumer PCs and laptops though in retrospect this may now just have been a stepping-stone).

Apple has also increased the accessibility of iPods through various resellers that do not currently carry Apple Macintosh systems (such as Harvey Norman), and has increased the reach of its online stores” (Apple’s Brand Strategy, n. p.).

The main purpose of opening Apple stores is for prospective customers to appreciate the values of Apple’s brand. Customers are invited into a stimulating and carefree environment where they are to discover the latest innovations of Apple, be assisted in their queries about the company and products and be able to experience firsthand the goods and services Apple has to offer. The main purpose of the store is to provide a preview to prospects of the exclusive community one will experience in getting an apple product.

The marketing strategies of Apple Inc. have been fairly unique because in the past decades of its existence it has impressively captured loyal customers who patronized the brand even with its premium pricing. The company’s advertising campaigns have been very popular because they reflected the company’s way of marketing products. Significant ad campaigns of Apple Inc. include their 1984 Super Bowl Commercial, Think Different campaign in the 1990s and the iPod people campaign in the 2000s (World’s Most Admired Companies, n. p.).

During the 1980s to the early 1990s, Apple has adopted traditional means of advertising by buying print ad space in magazines, as well as conducting TV commercials to further expose the brand. In 1984, Apple Inc., then Apple Computer Inc., first introduced Macintosh through a TV commercial which aired nationally on January 22, 1984 during a Super Bowl break. This begun the series of Apple’s advertising campaigns with the use of TV commercials and print advertisements.

On June 10, 2002, the company launched the Switch advertising campaign where real people who have switched from using Windows Microsoft to Mac were featured in the advertisement campaign. The campaign was carried out through television commercials and print advertisements but users who observed and witness the materials were directed to a website where the invalid information about the Mac platform was disproved.

Though the campaign was not successful, it was replaced by the “Get a Mac” campaign, “Switch” was the first major attempt of Apple to use the internet in marketing their campaigns. After that, the campaigns were followed by the usage of both traditional methods, such as TV commercials and print advertising and modern strategies such as e-marketing in promoting the apple brand.

Research Methodology

The researcher has adopted the explanatory method of research in conducting the study. An explanatory study’s principal objective is to know and understand the trait and mechanisms of relationship and association between variables. It is mainly concerned in seeking and providing an explanation. Explanatory research characteristically seeks to recognize and clarify causal associations which are substantively significant and meaningful.

In this sort of study, secondary existing data has been observed and analyzed. Hypotheses have been developed which are examined and experienced in the light of the existing literature and after that observed whether the data composed and collected can either be called on to support or disprove those hypotheses.

This sort of approach seeks descriptive and explanatory type research by means of case studies and observational data. This type or research can have many goals; first, it is the development of a mental picture of the topic which is under observation. Second is to determine the research feasibility. Third is to refine the research ideas by formulating different questions.

Fourth is that the initial ideas can be built up. In a nut shell, there are so many advantages of explanatory research. This kind of method will cover most of the aspects and perspectives concerned with data gathering, collection and analysis. Using the explanatory method, an analysis of Apple Inc.’s e-marketing strategy will be discussed.

In order to further understand the strategies of e-marketing and how Apple Inc. utilizes the internet in strengthening its brand by creating product awareness and conducting promotional activities, literature available from the internet with reliable source was the priority in gathering facts to further strengthen and enhance the arguments of this paper.

Data collected from the internet are those write ups regarding online advertisements, e-marketing, its strategies, its business modules and marketing methods associated with the internet.

Relevant literature, such as Apple Inc.’s company background and history were also reviewed for this paper, as well as write ups from different sources about the company’s marketing strategies over the past decades of its existence and how it keeps up with the advancement of technology in the information age. Journal articles found online, as well as online newspaper clippings were also taken into consideration to further attain a non-bias analysis of Apple’s marketing strategies with the use of the internet.

In analysing data, a brief background of e-marketing was reviewed to have comprehensive information with regards to the strategy. Different types of e-marketing such as Pay Per Click/ Impression (PPC/ I), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) were identified to determine Apple Inc.’s usage of the strategies. Business models associated with e-marketing were also put into account so as to check whether the strategies of the chosen company overlap with such business models.

E-Marketing

The broad scope of e-marketing will further be discussed in this section where the types of the internet marketing, business models and approaches will be discussed to give us a background on the topic.

E-marketing is divided into 3 types namely Pay Per Click/ Impression (PPC/I), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM). In the PPC/I pre-decided websites are used to generate leads for the companies who are using online advertisements to create brand awareness and visibility, as well as product introduction and promotions.

Another type of e-marketing is the SEO which improves the visibility of the websites in search engines via search results and lastly SMM where it provides a venue for vendors and customers to interact via a social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumber and others.

E-marketing’s diversity of scope has lead to its association with several other business models, such as e-commerce where goods and services are sold directly to customers. Examples of e-commerce sites are Amazon, Ebay and Apple Store. In e-commerce customers can pay the vendor via online banking, credit cards or PayPal accounts. Second, lead-based websites where organizations acquire sales leads from websites. In Affiliate marketing, goods and services are sold by other resellers and the profits are shared.

The vendor may supply marketing support to the reseller such as the provision of marketing materials though such model can be closely associated with e-commerce. Lastly, in local internet marketing, small local companies utilize SMM to develop a relationship which may be advantageous in real world encounters.

Business models and approaches of e-marketing are one-to-one approaches, appeals to specific interests, niche marketing and geo-targeting. In a one-to-one approach, advertisers and marketers based the scope of their advertisements on the search engine keywords entered by the internet users while in appeal to specific interests, users who have a specific behavior or interests are being targeted by marketers.

Markets are typically segmented according to age group, gender, geography to name a few factors. In the niche marketing, the target audience is specified. Lastly, the geo-targeting approach deals with determining the location of the internet user who visits a given website. Contents are delivered to the internet user basing from his location.

Findings and Analysis

At the turn of the 21st century Apple Inc. has been utilizing the internet in endorsing and strengthening its brand, as well as promoting its products and services to the internet users around the globe. The prominence of e-marketing among marketers of small-medium enterprises or even large corporations such as Apple Inc. can be associated with its advantages of being inexpensive with regards to the level of exposures it may cover and reach target audience.

Through e-marketing, vendors can be able to reach a wide range of audience in a small amount of time as compared to that of traditional marketing where many factors are needed to be considered before execution because traditional means may involve a huge amount of money. Another advantage of e-marketing is that exposures can be measured easily and cheaper compared to traditional means because in e-marketing ad servers which trace, measure and tests information posted on the internet.

Apple Inc. uses all types of e-marketing in its ad campaigns and exposures. It seems to be a standard for the company to PPC/I in measuring the number of users who clicked or visited their websites. During the “Switch” campaign in 2002, Apple directed prospects to a website with valid information in order for them to test the efficiency of the campaign they used PPC/I. In order to improve the visibility of Apple, SEO is used as a process via search results.

Although this method is free, the popularity or the search ability of a brand or company may depend on the browser giants such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari. This method can be manipulated with certain agreements with the vendors. The development of Safari has placed Apple at an advantageous position for they are their own vendor. SMM has been the most popular e-marketing type in the World Wide Web.

Registration via Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler are free and the spread of information can be delivered in split seconds. Apple Inc. has also used this strategy most often with the creation of their very own fan pages via the said social networking sites. It has enabled the internet users to gain access to the latest updates of the company and its products, as well as promotions and sales.

E-marketing has brought about aggressive purchasing behavior among Apple customers that the business model of e-commerce gave rise to Apple’s online store where customers can buy products online and have goods and services delivered to their desired addresses. Though lead based websites are not usually utilized by the company, Apple tends to use affiliate marketing and local internet marketing in order to have other resellers sell the company’s products.

Approaches of Apple’s e-marketing strategy may be in line with the appeal to specific interests and niche marketing methods. Upon observations, the company’s advertisements since 1984 have appealed to the creative people with the revolutionary software offered by the company to cater to the artistic needs of its target market.

Apple has also developed a niche marketing approach in the usage of the internet where the segregation of product software such as for musical lovers, professional photographers and the like have enabled the company to focus on specific types of markets. Apple has adopted specific methods in the enhancement of its marketing strategies but its still continues to prioritize traditional options in promoting events such as the Mac World Expo and Apple Expo.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The emergence of the information age has led to the significance of the internet as a viable tool in information dissemination. Advertisers and marketers alike have taken advantage of the World Wide Web in reaching out to their target audience in creating brand awareness and recall, as well as using the internet as an avenue in promoting products and services.

In the light of the 21st century, Apple Inc. has been prominent with regards to their marketing strategy and advertising creativity. Such methods define the company’s marketing platforms in terms of their products and services’ direction. Their advertisements have captured their target markets, thus creating a loyal customer base which patronizes the brand.

Such achievements attained by the company enabled them to survive especially with the aggressive marketing tactics of IT companies in capturing market shares through price wars. Apple Inc.’s customers salvaged the company from folding and closing down during the hard economic times of the 90s where its competitor, Dell, had personal computers at a cheaper price with good manufacturing economies and impressive supply management.

Apple Inc. focused its marketing strategies on honing the Apple brand to be customer centered, thus the experience of the customers with regards to Apple products is the primary source of the company’s marketers in positioning the brand.

In 1984, Apple first released its ad campaign introducing the Macintosh product line. The company spent thousands of dollars to produce a 60 second television commercial and also bought print ads in newspapers in order to create brand awareness.

The advertisement at the Super Bowl gave a strong impression of Apple among viewers, and over the years, the company has utilized such strategies as the production and airing of television commercials and the placement of ad materials in magazine pages to further promote the Apple brand. In 2002, Apple has used the internet in its marketing campaign where users were directed to a website by Apple’s TV commercials and print advertisements.

In its latest campaign, Apple has shown progress in its e-marketing strategies by utilizing the internet more. In the company’s “Get a Mac” campaign, social networking sites were used to spread the commercial campaign, even on YouTube, a series of videos from the campaign is being shown.

The popularity of the internet has resulted into a series of gimmicks among marketers with the use of the internet. Since e-marketing has proven itself to be effective in capturing target markets, efficient for with a lesser time needed to prepare compared to traditional methods and it is inexpensive, marketers can do more creative campaigns through the internet.

Apple alone has utilized the internet in promoting its campaign. The company has ventured out to e-commerce with the creation of the Apple store where customers can purchase online without the hassle of traffic or falling in line.

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