The truth behind Apple’s new marketing

Hello again… I realize it’s been many months since I last posted but I’ve been busy on the job hunt and doing co-op work terms.

I haven’t been motivated to write anything lately but after seeing a flurry of Apple’s new TV ads, the wheels started turning in my head. For years and years, the focus of Apple’s marketing has been on the product and how it is superior to anything out there. The most famous of these were of course the Mac vs PC ads. Here’s a video that has some of those famous ads.

However recently I’ve noticed a very distinct change in Apple’s approach. They are no longer being that cocky, in-your-face brand that they used to be. Now they are trying to rebrand themselves as a local brand by having “Designed by Apple in California” in every single ad. They’re even carrying this California brand into their products by breaking from tradition and naming their new OSX “Mavericks” instead of a cat species. Sure this is a direct response to their main competitor, Samsung, not being American. But it is also a response to their Asian operations and the mass criticism they’ve received over the sweatshop controversy. It also attempts to dampen the fact that Apple outsources their labour to Asia, while Apple’s home country of America suffers through a massive unemployment crisis.

But it even goes beyond that.

Instead of focusing on their “superior” products, Apple’s new ads are now focusing on the experience that their products give the user.

Take a look

The Truth

The real reason why Apple has shifted it’s marketing strategy: Their products are no longer superior. Apple’s innovation has slowed over the last few years, largely in part to the death of Steve Jobs, and competitors like Samsung and Microsoft have caught up. Samsung has released some really cool products lately and their innovative technology is giving them increased market share. Look for a huge increase in integration among their product lines in the near future (another edge over Apple).

Apple knows this and that’s why they can’t do ads like they used to. So, how do you try to increase sales with products that aren’t blowing anyone away anymore? Through emotion and affect.

It’s known that a piece of marketing that elicits an emotional response from a consumer will improve brand perception and eventually get an increase in sales. Playing on the emotions of the consumer is one of the most effective forms of marketing because it establishes a connection between the brand and consumer that feels authentic. For the most part that’s true – but in the case of Apple, its just a tactic to try and make up for their lack of innovation. In a society that is increasingly tech-crazy and informed, I’m not sure how long this tactic will work with consumers.

For years Apple was saying “Look at what I can do, Look at what I can do! Its amazing right? Way better than anyone else!”

Now their dialogue has shifted to “It doesn’t matter that we aren’t the most innovative anymore, our products make you feel good right?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an Apple lover. I’ve got a MacBook Pro, an iPhone 4s and numerous iPods. But as a marketing student, I couldn’t let this one go. I think what they’re doing is smart since the majority of people won’t think too deeply about it, but it’s easy for a marketer to identify how and why they’re switching things up.

In summary: Apple can’t keep up with Samsung. So they have to rebrand their products to a “local” brand and change their advertisements to focus on experience rather than technology.

-AK

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