As we step into a world interconnected with technology, the smartphone has proved to be a vital key in the progress. The percentage of smartphone owners and users has increased stably over the years. In 2016, albeit poor market sentiments, smartphone users in Malaysia is at 18.46 million (Asia-Pacific Telecom, 2015). By the end of 2016, Apple has emerged as one of the leading smartphone vendor in Malaysia, with approximately 13.1% market share (Statista The Statistic Portal, 2017). According to Funk & Wagnalls 2016, the multinational American technology company, founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976, designs and manufactures hardware products including iPhones, iPads, Mac that runs with Apple's own software and operating system. Apple is currently the largest IT company with $233.715 billions of annual revenue.
Social class is defined as relatively permanent and homogeneous divisions in a society into which individuals or families sharing similar values, lifestyles, interests, wealth, status, education, economic positions, and behaviour can be categorized. (Blackwell, Miniard and Engel, 2012).
The primary focus of Apple is middle and upper-class income people. They are willing to pay higher price for Apple products as they believe that the products have better quality and design, will not only provide better user experience, but as well as social status. Besides, Apple's wide-ranging line of entry level devices is appealing to people of all ages. Apple products such as iPods, Logic Pro and their compatibility with all Apple products manage to target music enthusiasts from a large age demographic. Furthermore, professionals working in media and design adored Apple products due to their advanced technology and simplicity. Although Apple's prices are usually higher, it is able to attract people of all ages and demographics due to its reputation of impressive technological innovations, while still managed to focus on its target customers.
According to Gilstein 2017, marketing mix, a combination of factors that address different aspects of marketing, is used to determine the best way to market a product or service. The 4Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion must be balanced to achieve successful marketing, which is able to serve the needs of customers while generating optimum income.
Firstly, Apple uses premium pricing strategy which involves relatively high prices due to the innovative technology used and unique, aesthetic design of its products to create an impression of its valuable high-end company as well as a status symbol (Greenspan, 2017). For example, an iPhone is priced at a minimum of RM1749 (Apple (Malaysia), 2017). Apple products are meant to cater to the needs of the high-end consumers consists of middle and upper classes people. Besides that, Apple is using price skimming strategy as it only reduces prices when initial products launch. The price of iPhone 7 dropped from RM3199 to RM2749 due to the release of the brand-new iPhone 8.
Secondly, throughout the years, Apple has introduced wider range of products to address to the different needs of its customers (Blackwell, Miniard and Engel, 2012). The currently available products of Apple include iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook, iTunes, iOS, iCloud etc (Apple.com, 2017). For instance, all the products of Apple run on their very own operating system which are IOS and macOS Sierra compare to competitors such as Samsung, Hua Wei, HP, Dell that run on the same operating system, which is Android. Besides that, Apple has come out with 3 types of MacBook; MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro which allows customers to purchase according to their usage from light to heavy.
Thirdly, Apple place its products through highly diverse distribution channels to deliver to its end consumers. Apart from its own exclusive retail stores-Apple Store that sells its own products, Apple uses the concept of trade partners to lessen the number of trade partners and increase the efficiency of their global distribution channel (Garg, Singh, De, 2016). These products are then being sent to Apple authorized retailers such as Harvey Norman, SenHeng, Switch and Machines. Due to the premium model of the product, the distribution is given only to premium retailers who can meet Apple's expected targets. Apple also sells its products through telecom companies like Maxis and Umobile which sell iPhone units. Besides, Apple uses fulfilment services from third parties company such as Lazada to sell Apple products online, other than online Apple Store (Vander, 2012).
Lastly, Apple promotes its products through its website, Apple Stores, technology news sites, TV, social media, billboards etc. The major promoting focus of Apple is on its product and differentiating features from its competitors (Abdulkarem and Mustafa Mahyoub, 2017). Moreover, Keynote Events, leaks of new product design and press conference are carefully applied to maximize positive exposure and promotes its new products. For example, Apple products are so famous that they become news before it has even been released. In addition, Apple also offers sales promotion for refurbished products and education price for college students and staff. Customers are able to purchase certified refurbished Apple products with a price reduction up to RM2300 and a discount of RM200 if they shop for education purposes (Apple, 2017).
As a highly competitive company, Apple should introduce bug free software updates more frequently to enhance the experience of Apple users. For example, iOS software updates for iPhone are often problematic as it may lead to battery drainage or slower processing speed. (Miller, 2017) Eventually, users will think twice before updating to avoid further disappointments. Therefore, prior to releasing software updates, Apple should run better quality-checks to ensure positive experiences.
Next, as many of Apple's competitors are imitating its technology and design, Apple should apply for patent for its invention. Reason being after ripping off the technology and design of Apple, its competitors then release highly similar products of lower price to customers. Thus, prompting customers' interest more.
Besides that, Apple should expand its product line by venturing into new markets through acquisition or joint venture. Through brand extension, Apple is able to use its strong brand image to successfully develop and launch new product lines. Apple will be able to achieve a cultural phenomenon state by diversifying and expanding their technological horizon.
Finally, Apple should implement customer loyalty by offering discounted price or small gifts as a token of gratitude and appreciation. In this way, customers will feel cherished, thus enable Apple to retain its customers and build customer loyalty.
As a conclusion, it is essential for Apple to understand the theories and concepts of consumer behaviour to market its product successfully. Hence, consumer behaviour is an effective tool for marketers in meeting their sales objective.
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