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The seven least publicised secrets of Apple's success

By pa360, Jul 31 2015 09:18AM

The latest published results for the third quarter of 2015 (Q3 of 2015) reveal that Apple achieved gross revenue of $49.6bn. Apparently this is up some $12.2bn on quarter 3 of 2014. Put in some sort of context, Apple’s gross revenue for Q3 of 2015 alone is (according to the World Bank) the same as the Gross Domestic Product of Tunisia for the whole of 2014.

So what is the secret of Apple’s extraordinary success? Well for this blog I have compiled seven of the least publicised secrets, which in my view give Apple a unique edge over its competitors.

1. Turning product into cultural experience – back in 1998 I doubt whether the higher ups at Apple imagined how far their brand would develop over the next 15 years. However, whether as part of a concerted strategy or through slick marketing and customer engagement, Apple is now much less a consumer brand and much more a cultural phenomenon. When a brand goes cultural and transcends the market place, you are no longer buying a product, you are buying into an experience.

2. Anticipating consumer need – probably the most unique thing about Apple’s product development strategy is that it appears to provide what the customer needs before the customer even realises it. In such a situation, the supplier only needs to correctly anticipate customer need once, before a dependent relationship is established. As the dependency increases, the supplier is able to heighten anticipation so much so, that the consumer doesn’t just want the product, they clamour for it.

3. Connecting smart products to other smart products – did you ever hear that quote about the American gold rush? It goes something like this: “the ones who got rich during the American gold rush were not the people who found the gold, it was the guy who sold them the shovels”. In the same way, Apple have cleverly situated their products as a kind of market-place doorway, enabling direct or indirect access to a wider range of products, services and opportunities.

4. Spawning the growth of new markets – it is amazing how Apple’s success has not only re-awakened an industry, it has also created an industry in its wake. Not only have other providers had to catch up, new supply chains of start-ups have emerged with data miners and app developers devising magnificent new tools to increase customer personalisation and convenience.

5. Moving from lifestyle accessory to life necessity – I can think of many products that are lifestyle accessories. Such products offer a high degree of personalisation, convenience, customisation and choice. But other than food, water, heat, light and shelter I cannot think of too many products or services that I would describe as necessities. Part of the success of Apple, is the triumph of market psychology whereby the consumer believes that they do not need the product to make their life comfortable, they need it to make their life possible.

6. Taking up a unique strategic vantage point – if you stand where others stand you will invariably see exactly what they see. The challenge is to secure a slightly different vantage point which will enable you to see what they cannot. From Apple’s perspective they have been able to take up multiple unique vantage points from the perspective of the supplier, the supply chain and the customer. This market triangulation approach is entirely unique.

7. Adding to the popular vocabulary – iPhone; iPad; iTunes and iMac are now part of the modern pop-culture lexicon. There is a lesson to learn here for product makers which is that if you are going to create a good product, make sure that it’s a good product worth remembering and one that is easy to remember.

Cutting-edge product design and high quality development are undoubtedly the core of Apple’s phenomenal success. But around that core, the tech giants have deployed sophisticated and innovative techniques in customer relationship management and market psychology to make their offer not just attractive, but compelling.

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