Promotion within Apple’s marketing mix

Promotion is an essential aspect in the marketing mix as it includes activities that involve communicating with potential customers about the products, as well as its main benefits and features. Apple in particular uses four main elements when it comes to promotion — advertising, personal selling, sales promotion and PR.

Apple’s Promotional Strategy

Firstly, Apple advertise products through their website and in-store, as well as through third party re-sellers, such as technology news sites.

Secondly, they use a personal selling form through their store employees, who provide information on a specific product in order to gain a purchase (Greenspan, 2017)

Apple employee helping a potential customer (Rajesh Pandey, 2017)

Thirdly, Apple use sales promotions as a part of their tactic. For example, offering their customers rebates, which gives them back a portion of the money paid for the product and more famously, the “Buy a Mac and get a free iPod touch” offer during a certain period (Villefranche, 2011). They also offer coupons, mostly used as an online promotion for educational purposes, such as $100 off Mac Pro Laptops and $50 off shipping (Mckenzie, 2012) as well as certain Apple stores offering older models for a lower price.

Apple use a “skimming pricing strategy”, where older models are offered at cheaper prices over time (SD Asia, 2018)
An example of one of Apple’s offers for students (Aaron Brown, 2016)

Lastly, Apple adopts a PR strategy to advance its brand image, including Apple Events, leaking new product features, exclusive interviews and press releases, all carefully carried out to maximise public positivity (Greenspan, 2017).

The effectiveness of Apple’s promotional strategy

Apple’s promotional strategy is extremely effective because everything they promote is all with the customer in mind, earning them huge loyalty. For example, the company communicates to its customers on what they care about, and acknowledge that product experience is key, and just like their product design, keep their message simple and relatable, which instantly gets word of mouth recognition (Proddow, 2017).

According to McCormack (2013), Apple do not promote their iPhone products, so when a consumer has seen an iPhone advertisement, they have actually seen another company advertise their products for them. Apple do not pay for their advertising, and get other companies to pay for, and execute ads for them. Apple iPhone ads are paid for by network operators, who want to advertise that they sell the product. When doing this, as well as paying for the advertisement itself, Apple puts restrictions on the operators that dictate how it must look and what information it should contain, hence why all Apple advertisements look the same. It was also revealed that the company relies heavily on free product placement in television shows and movies (Stampler, 2012)

Billboard advertisement of the iPhone X (USA Today, 2017)
Another billboard example (Daily Billboard, 2012)

Apple are also used as a strong example to learn from for other companies that want similar success. For instance, a significant part of Apple’s marketing strategy is not getting involved with price wars against competitors. Rather, they focus on great user experience with features and extensive applications, ensuring that customers feel as though it is worth the higher price. Another example is creating an experience for the customer that is memorable and entices them to come back, particularly with product launches, beautifully-styled ads and stores and online shops that revolutionise the shopping experience (Kulkarni, 2016)

An Apple employee finishing a transaction with her customers (Jules Wang, 2016)

A study also showed that Apple’s iPhone scored a 92% loyalty ahead of the iPhone 8 launch. The study, published by the Morgan Stanley investment bank, showed that 92% of iPhone users were “somewhat or extremely likely” to upgrade, intend to buy Apple (Campbell, 2017).

Apple came second place in the list for the most valuable brands in 2018, with a brand value of $146.3 billion, rebounding after a 27% drop the previous year (Tyler, 2018), verifying the effectiveness of their promotional activities among their other marketing aspects.

Statistics showing Apple dominating the top spots (Felix Richter, 2018)

Apple’s promotional strategy over time

Apple are constantly changing and updating their products to maintain a positive relationship with their customers as well as to fit their ever-changing needs, particularly with competition from other companies, most notably Samsung and Microsoft.

For instance, the first iPhone was released back in 2007, and quickly dominated the market, selling over 6 million units in its first year (Ritchie, 2018) It soon prompted high competition from other companies, nowadays selling and developing their own version of a touch screen smartphone, sometimes at a lower price. For example, Samsung, the main competitor, have now released the S9 and S9+ phone, with similar features to the iPhone X, mostly notably the AR Emoji which directly rivals Apple’s Animoji.

Many Apple customers defend the brand, particularly in the case over anger at Samsung over their Galaxy S9 advertisement for mocking the iPhone, showcasing a disastrous day in the life of an Apple user (Shah, 2018). However, Apple still have to adapt in order to stay ahead of the competition and maintain their relationship with consumers, hence why the iPhone product is updated yearly with new features to appeal to their audience through their advertisements and other promotional tactics.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Apple’s promotional strategy has proven effective, as supported by statistics and loyal customer base and continue to top the smartphone market with their products.