Does Apple still imagine it’s a fashionable product?

Apple’s early 2000’s rebranding led to greater than before profits and a chance to finally jettison that annoying ‘nerd’ dishonor that had hounded the company since the ‘Macintosh’ time. On the other hand, with the iPod becoming the public’s favourite (and easily mostly available) MP3 player, iTunes vouchers in each supermarket as well as the iPad spearheading the increase of tablets the world over, will Apple still think of itself a ‘luxury’ brand?

Lately, Apple started comparing their apple ipad mini to Google’s Nexus 7 tablet pc. Surely this will only hurt their status as a luxury commodity, right?

Well, yes and no. Though typically, I would have to say ‘no’.

Reported by Evan Clark at style site WWD.com, Apple are almost a luxury, but they are missing out on 1 key factor.

“Apple embodies almost all of the telltale markings of a luxury retailer. The brand misses on exclusivity, though. The much-anticipated new iPad was launched today and diehards wanting to snatch one up at 12:01 a.m. could. At Wal-Mart…Sexy, eh?” 

Anybody who’s read one of those ‘people of Wall-Mart’ emails (and seen essentially the most garish compilation of pictures this side of the CSI episode) may consider Clark’s indictment. He goes on to say that the company’s branding has continuously been inclusive, rather than exclusive, however. He continues, 

“Apple is successful as a retailer, in part, because has all the elements of luxury but the exclusivity. It’s a club that lots more people can join. The service is good, but the sales staff is wearing T shirts”. 

In my view, Clark is completely accurate. Apple were never truthfully ‘exclusive’ in any actual sensation, unless you count up the times when their pcs were only employed by programming nerds. And trust me, nobody does.

Apple has positioned itself as a luxury brand only inasmuch because it suits them to try and do so.

Yes, they put out an excellent pair of products and yes; they charge a lot of money for these products. On the other hand, Apple is accessible to anybody who can match that price, which, in an age of plastic money cards, loans and the need of getting a computer in the house, is a fair amount of us.

The comparisons to the Google nexus 7 help Apple to bolster their brand as an commerce leader, reminding us that for a little more money, we can purchase a better product, or at the very least, they hope that’s how it works.

Several years ago, research analyst Tony Sacconaghi published a note detailing a meeting with (then Apple COO, now CEO) Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer. Within the meeting, Cook is reported to have said that he didn’t want Apple tech to be “just for the wealthy” and Apple were researching into reduce priced iPhones as a future plan. The apple ipad mini can almost be seen as the direct offshoot of that meeting.

In 2011, following the publication of the account, Jason Hiner of Techrepublic.com wrote,

“I don’t think Apple ever intended to build a premium brand in the first place and I don’t think the company has ever been totally comfortable being pigeonholed into that market. That’s simply the group that bought into Apple’s vision and was willing to pay a premium for it”.

He might well be correct, though I’d say that his summing up downplays the genius of Apple’s marketing techniques to some extent. This indicates that Apple were not really a ‘luxury’ brand to begin with, just a business that stimulating high prices for premium quality goods.