Let’s take a bite from an Apple

“Steve said let there be Apple. And there was Apple . . . there began to appear, the Cult of Macintosh. For they had tasted of Apple. And it was good” Belk and Tumbat (2005)

Before reading the blog have a watch of the youtube clip. It is from a comedy news channel called The Onion. It shows how Apple have manipulated their consumers to be completely dedicated to the product

The content of this blog is going to be about the technological giant, Apple.  I have chosen this to be the theme of my blogs for a number of reasons. The main reason though, is that  Apple have developed, not just products, but cult followings.  Individuals who purchase Apple products are generally firm believers that Microsoft products are the spawn of satan, and vice a versa. The question I aim to solve throughout the ongoing weeks is why? Why do people have such conflicting opinions on Apple and Microsoft? Also, I will be discovering how the companies use different elements of consumer psychology to create their brand image and sell their products.

Apple’s secret

Apple have developed a very powerful brand image that portrays them as avent-garde, free-thinking and untouchable. This brand image is the reason why 400 million people use Apple products. Belk and Tumbat (2005) describe Apple’s consumer’s devotion to the brand as a kind of religious following. Belk and Tumbat asked their participants a series of questions to understand what the consumers thought about Apple. One question was “If Macintosh and PC were animals, what kind of animals would they each be?”. The participant’s describe a Macintosh as a type of “horse or fish, with colours and swimming in water and fluidity”. Participants also stated that Mac users were more “individual”. Apple’s image seems to be infectious to it’s consumers. Consumers believe Apple are an individualistic corporation and that people who own Apple products are also individuals.

Furthermore, Fitzsimons, Chartrand and Fitzsimons (2008) discovered that participants that were primed by the Apple logo behaved more creatively than controls. Thus, Apple have managed to manipulate the perception and behaviour of consumers. This enables Apple to sell millions of products and for consumers to keep on buying!

However, is it Apple that has created this image or is it the consumers which have bestowed this image? Phau and Lau (2001) found that when a brand had a high preference, like Apple, the consumers had an influence over the brands perceived image. Apple not only create their brand image but in a round about way, their target consumers then reinforce this image.

A company must invest in it’s own image (Dowling, 1993) that is for certain. However, Apple have shown that a meaningful relationship with the consumer can produce loyal customers who will enthusiastically promote your product (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003).

How have Apple succeeded in building a golden relationship with their consumers and why do they occur? Do you guys have any ideas on how Apple have done this? Are you a member of the Apple or the Microsoft cult?

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10 thoughts on “Let’s take a bite from an Apple

  1. I am of the Apple cult! Likewise, I think the point of the consumers reinforcing the brand image is true; Apple has become more successive through their marketing; the consequences being that they have more influence upon the people of the conventional world. Of course, especcialy when there are a lot of people with a demand for innovative technology, to more hastily speed up the processes of their life, that support such companies; the Apple brand tries even moreso to be more innovative.
    I enjoyed reading this, you wrote it concisely with insightful and relevant detail; the video was a sweet touch of humour too. This is short and pleasant to read, good job!

  2. Thank you for writing on this topic!
    Actually I am not a fan of this brand and maybe it helps me to consider Apple from the more objective point of view. In my personal opinion, the word ‘religion’, that you mentioned in your post is crucial for the understanding of their strategy. The paradox that I noticed consists in that those ‘creative individuals’ who use Apple products are actually followers of the perfectly constructed ‘high technology religion’. What is more, I believe that Apple is mostly about the design and respectively about the lifestyle than about technology.
    Looking forward to new posts =)

  3. Really interesting blog! I’m also not a fan of the brand. Mac computers work just as well as PCs, so it seems that the only reason that could justify their astronomical prices is the brand image. Consumers are buying the brand, not the product. In fact research has found that with favourable brands, consumers have a higher perception of quality and value and are more willing to buy (Dodds, Monroe and Grewal, 1991). So it seems that consumers know that the product is expensive but feel it’s worth it because of the brand. Your point about target consumers reinforcing the brand image is a really striking point. It’s amazing to realise that not only do we see what the brand wants us to see, but also we see what we want to see in the product. I think that Apple definitely do rely on this aspect of ‘we can make you feel fulfilled’ with their brand. Scary stuff. Can’t wait to read more!

  4. Great post! Although, I think to say that Apple have ‘manipulated’ their consumers is a little strong. What sets them apart and fuels the cult like status that they enjoy is embedded in their brand identity; ‘Think Different’. When iPods first came out, a turning point in the success of Apple, they came with white earphones which were radically different to anything we had seen before. People purchasing iPods were instantly recognisable as part of the ‘Apple family’, and the rest, as they say, is history. I believe it’s this feeling of community that gave Apple the edge. Even though research shows that these kind of brand communities are imagined (Muniz & O’Guinn) Apple was able to bring in an aspect of tangibility with their earphones. Carlson, Suter and Brown (2008) argue that people with a strong sense of community with others who use a brand are more likely to have a strong commitment to the brand. Very interested to see you uncovering other tricks they use, because no doubt there are many!

  5. A really interesting blog and some equally interesting comments! I certainly agree with all the points made regarding Apple’s success in terms of its ‘avante-garde’ brand identity. But I’d like to go back to this idea of a ‘cult following’:

    I think that the main reason for Apple’s international success, lies in its creation of perhaps the strongest brand loyalty imaginable (Dooley, 2012).
    1) Apple created “transparent relationships” with their customers – directly connecting to them via social networking (Goodson, 2011).
    2) Steve Jobs advertised himself in such a way, that Apple customers felt that they knew him personally (Gans, 2010).
    3) Most importantly, Apple pushed forward its belief rather than its products. Consider Apple’s mission statement:

    “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings”.

    This statement is designed to ‘resonate in each product’ (Goodson, 2011)

    Put it this way, when a ‘follower’ faces a hiccup with their Apple product, they are likely to wave it off as only a minor problem – they will continue to buy the products. Having a personal connection to Apple and to Steve Jobs creates strong brand loyalty – remember mistakes made by friends aren’t important (Goodson, 2011). And so… Apple continues to take over the world.

  6. I was interested in this as i did my first post on apple brand loyalty and the ‘cult following’ behind apple. I am a very loyal apple follower as i stated in my blog, i pretty much buy all their products despite not needing them. I did extensive research into brand loyalty and found there are several step companies should take in order to gain loyalty with their customers:
    1. Build a relationship with the customer
    2. Carry movement ‘mass’ marketing
    3. Promote, promote and promote!
    I feel there is such a strong loyalty towards apple for several reasons: First and most importantly the huge association the public have built up between the company and Steve Jobs. Ever since Steve died the public have empathized with apple, they have come to associate the immense dedication and passion he had for producing high quality products and thus inspiring consumers, luring them over to the apple world.
    Another huge contributor to apple huge following is down to the message they send out to the public. Apple’s mission statement, as someone posted above is inspiring, it offers its fans and the public the hope of being more creative and creating a beautiful world. Apple states “it is those who think differently who create great things” Here is one of apples tv ads http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFEarBzelBs i feel this has a real impact on the public.
    Lastly apple is continuously adding new services and perks to its repertoire e.g. icloud, siri voice recognition, itunes match service, ilife and the genius bar ect… All these extensions add to apples appeal, it keeps their customers wanting to purchase more as they feel it will complement them and their other apple products well. The more services apple offer the greater the odds of new customers joining and old was staying for the long run.
    Finally apple plays to the ‘cool’ factor its sleek design and splashy marketing lures in young customers like students.
    I really liked your blog i thought you touched on some points i might have missed in mine.
    .

  7. This is a very interesting blog and I love the idea of looking at Apple as if it is a religion.

    One area you may be interested in is the physical shape of Apple products and its effect on creating a cult following. Research by Pugliese and Cagan (2002) looked into how the physical shape of the Harley Davidson motorcycle helped Harley Davidson to become a lifestyle brand.

    When you think about this it makes a great deal of sense. If you look at the majority of products that have a cult following i.e. Vespa, Volkswagen Beetle, Mini Cooper and even Coca-Cola they all have a distinctive shape that you can remember probably as easily as you can the logo.

    Maybe this is a factor in Apple’s success? What do you think? The physical shape of Apple’s laptops, phones and tablets are all very distinctive and I could easily draw an iPhone from memory.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

  8. This is a very attractive topic about Apple Inc.
    I did some research about Apple Inc., the reason why apple became the most valuable company in the world, why people are so addicted to Apple’s products. I found that there is two main elements make Apple succeed, the culture of Apple Inc. and the benefits that Apple products brought to people. As the Apple Logo we can see that the biggest feature of Apple is simple, but different. Apple brings brand-new products experiences and life style which are totally different from other companies. That impressed consumers indeed.

  9. Pingback: Which Type of Logo is Right for You? | Pxliz

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