Apple Inc. is an American corporation founded in April 1976 in California by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak. Apple Inc. focused on developing advanced information technology solutions, primarily known for personal computers, mobile communication devices and multimedia, and to a lesser extent related software, services, networking solutions, and third-party digital content and applications around the world (Li, 2021). The organization sells the above products worldwide through dedicated official online stores, retail partners, direct selling services for individuals, wholesalers and resellers.
The digital technology industry has been actively developing in recent decades, experiencing leap after leap. Qualitatively new levels of inventions in terms of speed and durability of batteries increase by orders of magnitude every decade. These factors contribute to economic growth in the global sense, as well as within one company, which provides the rails for digitalization. Apple is at the forefront of these companies, diversifying its activities into different areas of development in hardware and software (Moore & Tambini, 2018). Preservation of the first positions in the world in this area should be due to the mass of internal factors, which are the well-coordinated work of both professional departments and management, and marketing with R&D. It is the latter that is a significant part of Apple’s success, leaving the company among the world leaders for almost half a century.
Jobs captured the fundamental principles of effective product positioning in the market and implemented them in the company’s branding: first, it is a clear idea of the target market and customers the company seeks. Secondly, the benefits that are important to the target buyers on which positioning is based are highlighted (Li, 2021). Further, the company’s natural strength and trademark, which is the basis of positioning, are determined. Finally, the simplicity and clarity of positioning for the target segment conveyed through interesting image advertising or other means of communication is an essential feature of Apple branding.
The implementation of these principles was most clearly manifested in the promotion of the iPhone. It was logical that the target audience in the marketing strategy of this product was young people due to the optional loading of the product. However, Apple did not directly declare this as part of the advertising campaign, concentrating on attracting representatives of elites from various fields as first buyers, thereby forming an idea of the prestige and status of using this product (Lan, 2021). A similar hit was in the choice of the target audience for buyers of expensive Macbooks. Here, the primary consumers should have been wealthy people whose loyalty is complicated to form and retain, which means that the use of “stereotypes of prestige” in this case would not be enough.
Consumer behavior – actions directly related to the acquisition, and consumption of goods and services at their disposal, including the decision-making processes that precede and follow these actions. It is also the consumer’s response to a set of conditions that form his motivation for the object and goals of the purchase, time, place of purchase, organization of sales, and service. The correct understanding of consumer behavior is based on the principles of sovereignty: the consumer is independent, the motivation and behavior of the consumer are known through research, consumer behavior is amenable to influence, and the impact on the consumer is socially legitimate.
The buying decision process begins with the buyer’s understanding of a need. In the case of Apple, the marketing focus is diversified based on various factors. First, the communication channel through which marketing carries its message matters. Each channel has its target audience, which is present to a greater extent: youth on social networks and an older audience on television (Greg, 2020). Secondly, based on this analysis and assessment of current trends, a message is formed for the audience, which should create a need to purchase an Apple product or service. As a rule, this message is associated with the company’s corporate identity, which combines a minimalist approach, cutting-edge developments in the field of information and hardware technologies, and a global agenda (Liu, 2021). Marketers need to fit into a short slogan in such a sense that it will intrigue all segments of their target audiences.
The interested consumer proceeds to search for additional information. Various channels are already being used here, and the company’s task is to provide a full range of data that is potentially interesting and necessary for the buyer to purchase. In the case of Apple, the storytelling style is preserved in the media channels and on the official website, where all the necessary technical information is already contained in detail, which rarely loads the company’s commercials (Razak et al., 2020). At the same time, the formation of an audience of buyers occurs both at the expense of new users of Apple products and among those who update them. To do this, it is essential to emphasize the new details compared to previous models when it comes to devices.
Choice evaluation is the stage in which the consumer evaluates different options based on the information obtained in the previous stage. Each consumer forms his opinion about similar brands based on the evaluation. In some cases, buyers resort to careful analysis and logical reasoning; in others, they do not resort to evaluative methods and make a purchase impulsively or rely on intuition or emotional sensations. The case of Apple in many countries, especially today, increasingly implies not only the technical arguments of cutting-edge developments as a determining factor in the purchase but precisely brand loyalty, style, and other determinants influencing emotions and consequences. In favor of this thesis, we can give an example of the presence of comparable flagship models from Chinese manufacturers, although with less availability in many markets, but with a much lower price with similar characteristics.
Finally, there is the purchase decision stage, the step at which the consumer purchases the product. Apple products are distributed through various retailers, which can often be official brand dealers. The organization’s positioning involves selling mainly through boutique places; however, the mission and vision of the company imply the availability of models for everyone, which requires finding appropriate solutions for each market (Greg, 2020, Kangyi, 2021). Here, the interaction points are direct live contact with sellers if we are not discussing an online purchase. Apple is interested in making this process as comfortable as possible for the client; therefore, at the moment, it offers many convenient online solutions for free and round-the-clock consultation in choosing a device and reporting all kinds of reasonable offers to the buyer (Hussein & Hartelina, 2021). The consequence of this approach is the presence of official Apple service departments in all countries where the same working device is given for the duration of the repair so as not to limit the client in anything.
Purchase reaction is the stage in the purchase decision process in which the consumer takes further action after purchasing a product based on feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. A marketer’s job does not end when a customer purchases a product. After the purchase, the consumer may experience either a sense of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Through Apple devices, company employees, including marketers, can seamlessly interact and work with the client to evaluate the purchase experience, suggesting better performance opportunities. This fact is one of the advantages of Apple when the product is simultaneously the channel of interaction and the main point of contact with the client.
To sum it up, Apple has a lot of touch points with customers, from the technical ability to get feedback, to the stylish stuff like packaging and marketing approach. It is important that there are such points at every stage of customer management and they have a cyclical structure for the renewal of the corresponding products, which are changed less often than once a year when a new line is released. More clearly these points of contact are presented in Figure 1 in the next chapter.
Mapping the Digital Journey
Accordingly, it can be represented as follows to present the entire interaction process between Apple and customers, without differentiation into segments and types of products. The flowchart depicts this process in Figure 1, from the development and pre-production of the product, through its presentation to the actual purchase by the client and subsequent service.
As befits a leading information technology company, Apple is present on many different and most famous platforms and social networks. The company’s website is both a source of information about the organization and a store where one can shop for several of the latest models or services. The diversification of the functionality of social networks allows them to be used for various marketing purposes. For example, Apple uses YouTube to present the technical advantages of new iPhone models and Instagram to demonstrate the quality of photos. At the same time, in the second case, the company resorts to reposting other users’ work, creating something like common ground. Naturally, the organization also resorts to contextual advertising in these social networks, maintaining the level of popularity with image videos. At the same time, the company practically does not use Twitter; as of 2020, there were no posts and answers, and there is only news about the presentation of the iPhone 14 Pro (Baker, 2020). As a result, we can conclude that Apple’s online presence is as laconic and thoughtful as the company’s main style.
Online Organic Presence
Using the free SEO Optimer service, an apple.com web page was audited as of September 25, 2022. The overall results are presented in Figure 2.
In general, the audit revealed disadvantages of a purely technical nature, while the use of the site is considered either good or even at the highest level. It indicates a customer-centric approach, facilitating sales through potential channels where the buyer wants to take this action. At the same time, the most critical drawback, according to the audit, is the speed of loading and rendering the page on various devices. The website is heavy and takes a long time to load (SEO Optimer, 2022). Otherwise, the audit notes from this technology focus on site metadata, the consistency of keywords on the page, and the font size of some words on small screens. The lack of analytical tools, which SEO Optimer also revealed, is a consequence of the use of proprietary software by the company in this area. Consequently, although of a recommendatory nature, most of the comments are entirely leveled by the current brand recognition and the desire to maintain a high-quality and advanced style.
Recommendations for Online Organic Presence
Security is an important aspect when accessing a company’s website, where a potential buyer can leave their details to make a purchase. Unlike its colleagues in this field, Apple did not come across leaks of users’ personal data. Therefore, in the absence of precedents and the presence of a secure connection, a potential buyer has nothing to worry about when working with the site. Recommendations for improving SEO can be directed to the area of optimizing page load time and keywords. For example, the list contains words such as card, stream, and acmi, although they do not appear on the main page or are too general and meaningful for this purpose (SEO Optimer, 2022). Accordingly, in this regard, phrases in keywords are more consistent, and the first list should be more filled with words unique to the company, such as iPhone or iPad, what was proposed in order to increase competitiveness (Tian et al., 2022). However, it is possible that the company has certain agreements with partners selling products regarding the order of issue in the search for key devices.
Core Web Vitals, which became the SEO trend in 2021, are almost 100% developed on the Apple site in terms of the first possible interaction with the page interface and layout adaptation. At the same time, the indicator of page load time, which lasts up to 3 seconds, suffers and even fails the green standards test from Google (SEO Optimer, 2022). As a result, it is required to abandon the most difficult to load elements on the main page, leaving them for familiarization with specific products. In this case, Apple’s minimalistic approach to the amount of text on its site will come in handy, and the background could be replaced. High-definition bitmaps can help better reflect a company’s cutting-edge models in the most favorable light, but including them at the expense of user experience is debatable.
Recommendations for Customer Experience
Apple’s approach to some social media presence is hard to argue with, as the company’s marketers have been achieving year-over-year sales growth for decades. However, the company’s current approach to running the TikTok social network reflects the chaotic use of all the above-described marketers’ functionality on Instagram and YouTube. In the official account, one can find both videos explaining the use of specific technologies, as well as reposts of other users using masks or a trend background. At the same time, these videos are not numerous and have not been updated for a long time, which signals a particular priority of digital marketing on social networks. The company’s largest audience is on Instagram, where constant feed updates are released. TikTok is one of the world’s most used apps, and potential buyers should not be ignored. However, at the moment, the company’s marketing has not yet been able to fully find a role for this social network, so far, trying and combining approaches already used by others.
The camera is one of the annual improvement targets for devices like the iPhone or iPad. If photographers and amateurs have the opportunity to show their work with the appropriate hashtag on Instagram with a chance to be in the official account, then video lovers have not been able to do so for the moment. TikTok can be a specific start-up and a potential platform for iPhone and iPad users to share their achievements, along with the achievements of the device’s camera. Using the trend, for now, could be the starting point for realizing the new role of the social network in Apple’s overall digital marketing system.
Apple’s strengths also lie in the diversification of business assets, including, among other things, the rights to The Beatles brand. The company may release limited edition merchandise dedicated to specific dates to expand the sphere of influence and its audience. Attracting new customers from areas that, at first glance, are far from the company’s core business will provide invaluable experience and the opportunity for constant horizontal product diversification and entry into new markets.
Finally, the speed of the company’s devices should correlate with a similar advantage within site, as mentioned above. This trick is very likely used to demonstrate the difference between other devices and the iPhone in the speed of opening the site. However, at the same time, it can indicate the lack of optimization in the company’s information and technological processes for new customers. In this regard, to better attract new users, it is necessary to add specific mechanisms to the main page that will level out the long loading. For example, creating unique offers for new users, with a free general subscription of Apple One for a month or more, to immediately offer the client the full range of services of the company. Many services can help optimize any customer needs, eliminating such a problem when loading a site, the period of active use of which, as a rule, falls on the moment before the purchase of the device.
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