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Retail TouchPoints: The Impact of Apple Product Marketing On Luxury Retail

November 27, 2012

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

The fundamental Apple approach to design is an unwavering commitment to the unification of technology and the liberal arts, Scott Forshay, mobile and emerging technologies strategist at Acquity Group, remarked in a recent webcast on Retail TouchPoints.

He said this approach has positioned Apple as a technology catalyst for agile consumer/brand engagement.

"It is important ... to consider that undeniable truth — that technology, at its best, is merely an enabler," he said. "The human experience with a brand is not the result of technology, but of emotion."

The webcast, presented by Luxury Daily, a luxury marketing publication, was titled: "What Apple's Offense Means To Luxury Brands, Retailers And Rivals." The session covered what luxury and other upscale brands can learn from the Apple marketing techniques as well as how Apple's innovative products have impacted the retail industry significantly in recent years.

Today Apple has gone mainstream, said Tom O'Regan, chief revenue officer for Martini Media. But it was the affluent consumer who began the Apple product adoption that changed the digital world as we know it, and who influenced the market at large.

"Consumers have a much more engaging experience with Apple products," said Mr. O'Regan. "If marketers leverage these products correctly, they have an amazing opportunity to connect with customers like never before, and grow audiences in leaps and bounds."

Apple definitely has raised the bar for luxury brands and retailers, according to Patrick Frend, managing director of Razorfish.

"I intentionally say brands instead of marketers because the impact goes beyond just the way brands market their products but rather to the products themselves," he said. "Luxury is personal and ever-ready to be at your service; these devices are incredibly powerful channels to deliver experiences that are luxurious — rich, smart, immediate."

FINANCIALS:     [NASDAQ:AAPL] [ ]

Discussion Questions:

What can luxury brands learn from Apple's marketing techniques? To what degree are those tactics applicable to the luxury channel?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

Has Apple's success more do with its marketing approach or its products?

Comments:

The greatest learning is creating ways that people want to come back to the store -- again and again. The environment, the products, the genius bar, the accessories, the associates, the crowd. All with almost perfect consistency across touchpoints. Apple engages all around in a way few retailers ever have. Luxury retailers are better suited to learn from Apple in raising the bar and then constantly delivering.

Alison Chaltas, EVP, GfK

Consumer experience is the key. Apple creates a personal emotional experience in the stores, when the box arrives, when opening the packages inside the box, and using the product. Thinking through this process and finding a way to deliver positive emotional experience throughout the process. The formula is not so difficult; the execution is extremely difficult.

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Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D., President, Global Collaborations, Inc.

Apple has set the bar for any brand looking to be the product that defines the category -- the one that people want first before they think about the price.

Luxury brands can learn a lot from the type of marketing, product design and service offered by Apple products. But it's not an easy task. Because Apple is offering state-of-the-art technology that can be used by every type of consumer, the brand has a leg up on other types of products, such as apparel.

I would say that Nordstrom has come the closest to achieving this type of notoriety in its segment. Often, when shoppers are looking for the best customer service, they decide to go to Nordstrom, knowing that they may spend more on the items they intend to purchase.

In the food arena, Whole Foods and Wegmans stand out as retailers that attract shoppers because of the expectation of great service and great selection. Again, shoppers may visit these stores knowing they may be spending a bit more on their total shopping cart.

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Debbie Hauss, Editor-in-Chief, Retail TouchPoints

Apple has done a wonderful job inspiring people with new ways to use its products and in the process have probably sparked additional product sales.

The iPad is the best example I can cite. Consumers see the device in use in retail stores, on airplanes, on the counter at check-out and if they haven't already bought one, their curiosity is sparked.

Apple must have wisely formed a selling strategy for these wholesale channels and, by developing apps for specific industries, is opening up volume deals for iPad purchases.

A local private school in Fort Lauderdale was the first to convert to the iPad as its central learning device this year, and the transition was facilitated by the bevy of apps that customize the device to meet the school's specific needs.

Without the device, the marketing opportunity does not exist. But it is Apple's marketing and selling strategy that will open lucrative markets for the device and extend the revenue stream far beyond the direct to consumer market.

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Bill Hanifin, Managing Director, Hanifin Loyalty LLC

Brands will learn that Apple communicates the value of luxury items and it requires engagement at each touchpoint. Many luxury brands depend primarily on visual cues which attract shoppers, but engagement does not necessarily follow. As well, brands may use exclusivity halos, that don't foster consumer attachment. And most importantly, great consumer experience requires consistent renewal and execution.

Anne Bieler, Sr. Associate, Packaging and Technology Integrated Solutions

Regarding your first question: What can luxury brands learn from Apple's marketing techniques?

I think luxury brands already have the essential know-how in their DNA -- consider that Cartier, a luxury brand introduced the use of platinum in jewelry. Platinum, being lightweight and stronger, enabled them to make revolutionary settings. Platinum, material science, and setting geometries sound like technology to me, but Cartier no doubt was ultimately into creating beauty -- now let's fast forward....

Steve was after the same thing. He came of age when computers were ugly boxes that displayed simple type styles on lousy monitors. He was after more -- he believed that these tools could and should be beautiful -- and his feelings were grounded in what he learned studying typography and industrial design.

I think I might modify the "unwavering commitment" to be one that was more toward beauty in all things where beauty is found not just in the materials but the creative minimalism of the object -- the fit.

My advice: luxury brands might consider looking at their own crafts people and designers -- my guess is that some of them were already studied by Steve who coincidentally loved the expression: Good artists borrow, great artists steal. Learn from them and yes, look at Apple, and use them as a source of inspiration -- steal it back!

Vahe Katros, Consultant, Plan B

I think it's a bit of an apples and oranges discussion. Yes, Apple is pricey, but is it really a luxury brand?

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Ryan Mathews, Founder, ceo, Black Monk Consulting

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