Apple Switch campaigns: its need and avatars

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It’s pretty easy to spot an Apple fan. Or a hater. The former group may be fans for various reasons. In my view, a majority of them genuinely prefer the product experience – be it on the Mac, iPhone or any of the other Apple products. If the user has multiple devices and services (such as Apple Music) then the benefits of the ecosystem could be a big reason for Apple love and can also be a strong deterrent for switching out. A few years ago, the iSheep argument was prevalent – taking a dig at Apple fans saying they are foolish to part with their money and only do so because they are taken in by the marketing hype. I don’t think that’s entirely true or fair.

No amount of great marketing can sell a bad product or one that has no takers. Also much of the dislike towards Apple and its users stems from the belief that ‘if something is not appealing to me’, wonder how others can find it appealing’. Recently, I saw a LinkedIn post regarding a new ‘switch’ ad – wondering who would move to Apple, especially among the youth, which typifies this mindset. ‘I will never switch’ was the author’s position. This particular campaign has a long-running web version too, highlighting the various reasons why people switched.

The print adaption of the idea could also be to support the authorised distributors & the retail network.

But every brand – even if it is Apple, needs switchers – especially in markets where the potential is huge. Hence comparative advertising has been effective in many cases.

However, there’s a difference. In my view, Apple does not define its potential customers as ‘everyone’. And it’s not just about the price tag. Aside from affordability, it takes a certain mindset to see value in paying a higher price and get familiar with an operating system which is different from what one might be used to.

Even prior to the iPhone launch when the Mac was Apple’s flagship product, they did not chase every potential buyer or user of Windows. They appealed to the creative community and positioned it as a tool to get things done easily. The ‘Think Different’ anthem played a part in creating a perception that Mac users were a set apart or maybe even a cut above. In 2002 they ran a ‘switch’ campaign which was a ‘testimonial’ of erstwhile Windows users and their reasons to switch. And of course, who can forget the classic ‘Mac vs PC’ campaign which won an Effie Award too.

Despite iPod’s staggering success, Mac remained a niche player in the computer market. In January 2006, the new Intel-based Macs were an opportunity to make Mac as culturally relevant as iPod, but Mac didn’t translate to the PC world. The idea: compare the easy, fun Mac experience with PC’s frustrating complications. The ‘Get a Mac’ campaign personified each and the result was magic. A simple, charming metaphor with all the reasons to get a Mac. Market share grew by 42%, Apple had record sales and the campaign was culturally influential.

Source: Effies

Over the last few years Apple has pegged their ‘reasons to switch’ campaign on privacy offering both direct and indirect comparisons of the ‘other’ option.

Even today, Apple doesn’t want everyone to switch nor do all want to switch to them. Apple is likely to get only a certain kind of prospect to switch to its products – be it the iPhone, Mac, AirPods or Apple Watch. I am no insider to Apple’s business or marketing strategy but to me it is in line with with their overall strategy of not trying to be everything to everybody.

In India, it is obvious that Apple’s flagship product, the iPhone will have a small market share because of the segment it chooses to operate in. Many pundits have said that Apple should launch a cheaper phone to grow their share in India. But given their obsession with margins I doubt if they will ever compete in the mid-price segment. Their focus on the ultra-premium market (Rs.45,000+) has paid dividends – they have a 59% share of that segment as per reports from June 2023.

While the Mac vs PC war has less intensity nowadays, the ‘iPhone vs Android’ wars will continue as the mobile phone is a lot more personal device. We depend so much on it and see it as an extension of our personality. Hence the heated debated on which is better and ‘I will never switch’ stances. On the Android platform it is a two-pronged fight: to get people to switch to that ecosystem as well as amongst brands within that ecosystem. While the Android ecosystem has several phone brands as options, it all boils down to hardware specifications and which brand has a brighter aura among a plethora of choices. I guess Samsung & OnePlus have an edge in that context.

In the final analyses, it all boils down to individual preferences without having to judge others for their choice. Even if the brand wars stop, the ‘fan wars’ will continue.

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