Mac O’Clock
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Mac O’Clock

Consumer Psychology and Apple

Apple Logo Design. Image credit:

1. It’s All About The Details

Apple Store employees adjust the screen of every MacBook to make sure they are inclined at 76 degrees.

Every MacBook screen is at a 76 degree angle, set using the Simply Angle iPhone app by employees.

The reason why?

When the laptop is awkwardly inclined at such an angle, the first instinct of anyone is to touch the screen and adjust the height. If the customer touches the screen, they are more likely to interact with the device — and these “multisensory experiences” build a sense of ownership for the customer. This is also why Apple loads a lot of games and features on the devices on display and allows customers to spend as much time as they like with the devices, with no pressure to leave.

It is this ownership experience that makes customers more loyal to the brand, and it is this multisensory interaction with Apple’s devices that makes customers more likely to buy that MacBook.

“It is always all about the details.”

It teaches all of us a brilliant lesson: It is always all about the details. Apple makes the customer feel important and valued, and the company strives to ensure that the customer is getting the best experience from their devices.

Side Note: You might wonder whether it is actually the tilted screen that subconsciously forces a reaction from the customer which should get any credit for why those customers buy Apple’s products. You might argue that the customer walked into an Apple Store with the goal of purchasing a device in the first place and not just to waste their time playing with the MacBooks on display, right? I’d like to cite the example of Build-A-Bear, another company whose marketing primarily focused on creating a multisensory experience for the children buying soft toys. Their focus on improving the customer journey is the one reason why they were able to sell millions of soft toys, and the biggest way they differentiate themselves from other soft toy manufacturers.

Build-A-Bear isn’t even called a “store” for this reason, but a “workshop”. I have heard this from multiple children and families and even experienced this with my younger sister: once children buy a Build-A-Bear, other soft toys don’t matter anymore. The next soft toy they want has to be a Build-A-Bear, because that is how much ownership they feel with the products of that brand. That’s the kind of brand loyalty that matters for business. And this is what Apple has been doing for years: putting the user at the center of its ecosystem, and focusing on how they can make their experience better.

– Read more about this in the article here.

2. The Decoy Effect

Why does Apple always come up with three versions of its iPhone?

Side-by-side: The iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. Image Credits: Tom’s Guide.

Let’s understand this by an example:

Consider you are at an ice-cream shop buying ice-cream. Most ice-cream shops provide you with options similar to these below:

  1. One Scoop Ice Cream — $13
  2. Two Scoops — $18.5
  3. Three Scoops — $19.5

The negligible difference between the prices of the 2nd and 3rd options gets your attention. This is called the decoy effect (also known as the ‘asymmetric dominance effect’).

The 2nd option (2 scoops for $18.5) is just a decoy. Companies provide decoys so that customers can compare the decoy with the expensive option (and select the expensive one).

In the absence of the decoy, the customer will compare $13 vs. $19.5, and may probably go with a cheaper option.

But with the decoy, the customer now compares $18.5 vs $19.5 — and most likely selects the expensive option — as the extra $1 seems worth it for an extra 3rd scoop. In the end, the ice-cream shop sold you 3 scoops for $19.5 and made $6.5 more in revenue per customer.

You will have noticed this too when you buy popcorn at cinemas. But do you see a similar pattern in Apple’s pricing of the iPhone 11? Here’s a quick comparison of the price of each option’s 64GB variant:

  1. iPhone 11 — $699
  2. iPhone 11 Pro — $999
  3. iPhone 11 Pro Max — $1,099

Yes, Apple uses the decoy effect to incentivize the consumer to buy the expensive version of their product.

Side Note: For those who have read Dan Ariely’s book, “Predictably Irrational”, this pricing strategy might seem similar to you. He cites the true case of The Economist magazine and the experiment he conducted –

For subscribing to The Economist, the reader is presented with 3 options:

  1. Subscription — US $59.00. One-year subscription to Includes online access to all articles from The Economist since 1997
  2. Print Subscription — US $125.00. One-year subscription to the print edition of The Economist.
  3. Print AND Web Subscription — US $125.00. One-year subscription to the print edition of The Economist and online access to all articles from The Economist since 1997

Ariely conducted an experiment. Presenting these exact options to his students, 16% of the students in the experiment chose the first option, 0% chose the middle option, and 84% chose the third option. Notice how nobody picked the decoy when it was present. When Ariely removed the 2nd (decoy) option, the result was the inverse; 68% of the students picked the online-only option, and 32% chose the print and web option.

“Apple leaves no stone unturned when it comes to marketing and selling their products.”

To conclude, not only is Apple undeniably making quality products, but they are also leaving no stone unturned when it comes to marketing and selling their products, and deploying their understanding of customer psychology to improve their brand image in every way possible.


Thank you for reading this article. I would love to hear your thoughts and learn about other brilliant tactics companies use to sell their products!

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