Let’s go visit the Apple Genius!

The last two blogs talked about a couple of ingredients that Apple use in their giant cauldron of success. The first talked about Apple’s image branding. The second blog analyzed Apple’s messiah, Steve Jobs, and his reality distortion field. This current blog will investigate another key ingredient that Apple have utilised in order for them to create a successful business. This blog will examine Apple’s retail stores and the consumer’s retail experience.

I have only ever been to one Apple store, and I was overwhelmed. It was a retail experience like no other.

The staff were constantly aware of the customers and attended to them if they needed help. They were fully trained in Apple products and could answer any question a customer asked. The simple, plain, futuristic layout of the store created an original atmosphere. It felt like you had just entered a portal to a new world where everything seemed perfect. Thang and Lan (2003) discovered that in-store service and the atmosphere were factors that significantly influence the customer’s preference of the store. Burt and Carrelero-Encinas (2000) specify that store images are essential to establish if a company wants to be successful. Apple has seemed to have nailed these factors. Furthermore, Baker and Grewal (1994) found that store environment and service quality are key elements to store image.

Apple’s employees are named ‘Geniuses’! They are told by Apple exactly how to act and what to say. The staff are programmed to ensure the customers are happy. Spies et al., (1997) discovered that customers in a pleasant store ‘spontaneously’ spent more money.

The staff are one of the special techniques Apple employs to sell their products. The staff have to go through a rigorous training regime to enrobe the blue shirt, to become a Genius! The Geniuses are told to persuade while you seem passive, empathise why you sale. In one word, it’s Genius. Staff becoming the customers friend, ensuring a pleasant atmosphere but with the intent of selling you their products.

Apple’s combination of store environment and staff quality have ensured retail success. The Geniuses’ strict training creates the perfect atmosphere and service quality. Consumer’s experience is positive and thus, Apple sells products. The Genius is another key ingredient that Apple has brought into play to develop an incredibly successful retail store image.

What do you guys think? Have you ever been to an Apple store? Do you think more companies should develop their staff into Geniuses?



2 thoughts on “Let’s go visit the Apple Genius!

  1. There’s a lot to be said about Apple’s retail stores but there’s little doubt that they are a key ingredient to Apple’s recent success with consumers. Much time and money has been invested into researching and planning how the shops operate and how they appear to the customer. Steve Jobs, a CEO notorious for micromanaging, undoubtedly played a big part in designing and launching their retail stores (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLTNfIaL5YI), with his name being being on the patents for designs for things like glass staircases, etc. (http://www.edibleapple.com/2011/10/25/steve-jobs-involvement-in-the-design-architecture-of-apple-retail-stores/)

    It starts with appearance. Apple has always been a company that has a passion for design and this really shows in how the stores look. From outside, some are iconic, landmarks in their own right, where people go just to check out the building! (http://asia.cnet.com/iconic-apple-stores-around-the-world-62208753.htm) I’m no expert in design but the appearance inside the shop is also profound. No big bright signs, screaming offers at the customer; the walls are plain and the tables are wooden and also plain. This minimalist, distraction-free appearance defies convention and allows the products to have the customer’s full attention. There doesn’t need to be big signs with prices on (which there never is) because the idea is that the customer is convinced first and foremost that the products on show are worthy of their investment, and then they’ll pay a premium for them. As Leigh was saying, the Geniuses essentially befriend the customer and tell them interesting / useful facts about some of the products, without applying pressure to buy. And when I say no pressure, I really mean it. Apple Store’s are notorious for letting their customers do things without purchasing anything that other shops would not, from allowing them to use their computers to check their email to bringing in their pets, (http://www.macrumors.com/2011/07/26/you-can-bring-a-goat-to-the-apple-store/) the idea being that these people will grow to like the products they’re using and eventually buy something.

    No, Apple Stores are not typical shops by any means. There is no till, for one thing, at least in the conventional sense; you just have to find an attendant and they make the payment using an iPhone. In the American stores, you can even pick up a product, pay for it yourself using your own iPhone and leave without engaging with any of the staff at all, if you so choose (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57324198-37/apple-stores-new-self-checkout-nice-but-not-flawless/). With there normally being a lot of staff on hand to help, this normally to translates into a shopping experience without queueing, although that can still happen if it gets very busy (i.e. big product launches).

    Leigh describes the Apple Store as futuristic, but I would argue that the experience is very much grounded in the present, and other shops seem almost archaic in comparison. Shops with tills by the exit have been around for a very long time but the Apple Store uses current technology to aid the shopping experience. For instance for the last year or two, instead of having product information on price tags, iPads are used instead; this allows the customer to find out about an interesting product in a more interactive way, with more information being at their fingertips than what could possibly fit on a paper card (http://www.pcworld.com/article/228481/apple_in_store_ipads_good_or_bad.html).

    The ‘Genius Bar’ plays to Apple’s very highly regarded customer service (http://www.maclife.com/article/news/apple_tops_polls_customer_service_satisfaction). If you have a problem, go to the bar with your product and they sort it out for you, and from a personal experience they can be life savers, and they have solved every problem I’ve had.

    When it comes down to it, Apple Stores are only successful because of their products. People love them (http://hothardware.com/News/Apple-Leads-Customer-Satisfaction-Survey-for-8th-Straight-Year/), and they dominate almost every market they’re in. Because of this, customers hear about cool Apple products and go down to their stores to see for themselves before buying. If the products weren’t good, the Geniuses wouldn’t be able to sell them and there wouldn’t be thousands of people visiting them every year (http://www.ifoapplestore.com/how-many-store-visitors-a-day/).

    Apple Stores are very clever and generate billions of dollars worth of revenue (http://allthingsd.com/20100805/apple-stores-raking-in-revenue/) for the company every year.

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