What’s the core to Apple’s success?
The long-awaited iPhone 8 was officially launched Tuesday (September 12) along with an iPhone 8 Plus and the premium iPhone X. Arriving on the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, the smartphone is an upgrade on the iPhone 7 with added features we’ve not seen before.
Last year, fans queued up outside Apple stores five days ahead of the release date. This year a man was spotted camping 10 days ahead. Seeing fans camped outside Apple stores is nothing new, it’s happened every year since the first iPhone launch in 2007. Apple have an immense following and rumour of a new product triggers intense anticipation.
But have you ever wondered why Apple is so successful? Why do people go to extreme lengths for a smartphone? Apple most definitely weren’t the first to invent a portable music device, tablet or smartphone. Yet Apple have a brand loyal following like no other.
So how do they do it?
The want factor
Research has shown people often favour a perceived upgrade without first evaluating the one they currently have. This is a phenomenon known as “comparison neglect” and the launch of the iPhone is the perfect example. The concept is strongly associated with another, known as “planned obsolescence”, where products are produced with a deliberately short lifespan. As soon as a newer version of the product becomes available, the old edition quickly become obsolete.
Are Apple guilty? On a two-year release plan, it’s hard for someone to purchase a new edition before rumours of an upgrade circulate. Along with such swift cycles, the differences are becoming somewhat less apparent. Yet people still throw their money down.
Apple make a notable example and it’s easy to point out the cycle at work, but other manufacturers are just as guilty. Companies’ long term strategies are to keep things fresh and retain long term shoppers. If their products didn’t change and update there would be little room for company growth. Nonetheless, the customer certainly doesn’t have to buy an updated iPhone, or even get a smartphone in the first place. So why do we choose to take a bite out of Apple again and again? It’s more than just manufacturer manipulation.
Evolution – From the seed to Apple
Most people like to believe they make decisions based on rational analysis of available options. However, it’s not so simple. Emotions are hugely influential and in many cases determine our decisions. Cost vs brand name for example. Emotions are the reason we decide to pay more for a brand name even though there are cheaper alternatives.
It’s well documented that emotions are influential in shopping behaviour. Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded that the emotion of “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales. Consequently, Apple have gone beyond just the practical service the iPhone offers. Delving into the far more important emotional connection loyal customers have. Simply put, the richer the emotional content and association, the more likely brands will hold on to that shopper loyalty.
Possibly the most important function of emotion is survival. It’s human nature to choose between fight or flight to ensure self-preservation. In modern society it’s unlikely we will be faced with fighting off vicious wild animals or fleeing from a raging river. More likely, in society today being left out is enough to activate the fight or flight response. “Fear of missing out” (FOMO) can cause physiological stress, not having vital information, and not feeling part of the group is not a feeling people seek out. Some people will double their efforts to actively avoid the feeling of missing out. This insecurity, coupled with aggressive social media, causes us to crave the latest technology. Additionally, through evolution our brains have been wired to meet needs like security and social status. When we’re rewarded with an upgraded phone for example, dopamine is released reinforcing our behaviour and can lead to addiction.
Clearly then, when it comes to continuous phone upgrades there are several factors at play. Whether we buy based on our ancestors before us, or are tempted by recently discovered psychological prompts, there’s no doubt Apple have established a well-structured strategy. Setting an almost impossible precedent to match.
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