The main component of the marketing strategy is the store itself. When Apple executives were in agreement to develop a strategy that will counteract the logistic model of retail giants like Dell and Compaq, the interactive store concept was born. As a result, the main focus was on “choosing the right locations, selecting and training knowledgeable and dedicated employees, and defining the most effective utilization of the innovative store elements” (Wathieu, 2010, p.1). Apple developed a new way of selling computers by integrating the value of different store elements in order to create a unique type of channel management. One of the most valuable store elements was the “theater.” Another valuable store element was the “genius bar.” Successful implementation of Apple’s marketing strategy requires the ability to balance the following components: 1) an attractive store concept; 2) loyal Apple users excited to work in an Apple Store, and 3) store elements that encourage customer involvement (Wathieu, 2010). An overview of the strategy will reveal that Apple utilized principles inherent in channel management and customer relationship management to increase revenue.
All the store elements present in the Apple showroom must focus on the original design established by Steve Jobs. He said, “We wanted to show what they can do with a computer” (Wathieu, 2010, p.3). It is a paradigm shift, a different approach to selling computers. The strategy compels people to buy computers, not because it is the latest model. They will buy Apple computers because it will help them with their daily tasks. Recent models from Dell and Compaq have higher computing power. However, most users are not familiar with all the features loaded in the computer. Some customers are having a hard time using their computers. In Apple’s belief system, the reverse is true; the computers must serve the people. It is a reinterpretation of the often-repeated phrase: user-friendly products. Therefore, the whole Apple experience is geared towards a heightened sensitivity to people’s needs.
The store elements added value to Apple’s marketing strategy. However, the weak link in the solutions area. The solutions area can be discarded, especially if the store manager considers the importance of space. In the current design, Apple stores provide ample space for consumers. Nevertheless, the interactive concept becomes more effective when consumers can test the products with more elbow room, and if they can interact with Apple employees without feeling claustrophobic. The solutions area can be eliminated from the overall design because the products area can easily duplicate what the solutions area attempts to provide. If the solutions area was created to provide a place where customers can try out various applications that pertain to music, home, photo, and movies, the same thing could be accomplished by displaying products that are connected to the Internet and can be manipulated by the customers. It is much easier to display products like a Macbook or iMac that can handle all these different applications.
In order to have more space, store managers must consider moving the software display area to the theater area. They must move the theater area close to the middle of the store. There is no need to display software prominently because it is easy for customers to buy one if they are convinced about the value of the said software. Therefore, greater effort must be expended on the presentation of the products and how these can enrich the lives of the consumers.
Apple’s successful application of a unique store concept enabled the company to increase its market share. However, it is important to point out that the strategy was not created from scratch. It is a good example of effective channel management. In the Apple store model, effective channel management was manifested, when corporate leaders made sure that every resource was activated to enhance the value of the brand. While other manufacturers were content to deliver powerful computers that overwhelmed users, Apple decided to offer computers that consumers can use to enrich their lives. In other words, user-friendly computers made it easier to perform work-related responsibilities and personal communication with friends and business partners.
Customer Relationship Management
Apple’s success is not only due to the prudent application of channel management principles, but it is also seen in the company’s integration of effective customer relationship strategies into the store elements design. Nevertheless, the decision to create a unique business model based on a more interactive approach to selling computers was not a byproduct of mere intellectual exercise. Apple developed the strategy after realizing that there was no way that the company could compete with Dell and Compaq. Apple had to figure out a way to sell computers using unconventional strategies. Thus, instead of creating more powerful computers, the company created better computers in the context of superb user experience.
Apple must sustain the success of the interactive store concept because it is the only strategy that can work against retail giants like Dell and Compaq. It is important to enhance the consumer experience while they are inside the store. Store managers can accomplish this objective by removing the solutions area, and increase the floor area that consumers can use to interact with Apple employees. The products and its features must be the focal point of the show, and not the peripherals or computer applications.
Wathieu, L. (2010). Apple stores. MA: Harvard Business School.