Ask a typical consumer about brand loyalty, and chances are the first name that comes to mind will be Apple.
The Apple brand boasts a certain je ne sais quoi that arouses excitement, devotion, enthusiasm (some might even say obsession) in its most loyal advocates, and at worstâ€¦ vehement dislike.
From a loyalty marketing perspective, what this indicates is that whether you're a promoter or detractor, Apple is guaranteed to incite a strong reaction (a positive emotional association most commonly in Apple's case) from all its customers. Which basically means that Apple is doing something very, very right.
But what's been done right is a bit elusive and difficult to categorize (and for their competitors, challenging to duplicate).
What exactly makes Apple customers so loyal? Apple hasn't built its brand by executing a traditional loyalty campaign, rife with points or a typical rewards card. In fact, at first glance it would appear that Apple hasn't executed any specific campaigns to cultivate its legion of devotees.
Look at bit further, however, and its clear that Apple has hit the mark in a number of ways. What, then, can loyalty marketers and brands take away from Apple's success?
- Listen and learn. And then anticipate. Not only has Apple succeeded in creating user-friendly, seamless technologies (hello, iPhone!) that speak to and leverage its customers' demands, it has taken its products one step further in anticipating their future desires, wants, and needs. As a result, it has created technologies that are in cases as unexpected as they are indispensible.
- Create a community. Not only does Apple offer great products; it offers them in an environment that's cool, trendy, and a community unto itself. (See: Genius bar. Funky architecture. Live musicians.) Apple's stores reign in customersâ€¦ and keep them hanging around (long enough to be up-sold. And tell their friends). Apple stores go beyond the norm – they are about creating experience.
Apple has deployed myriad other successful tools in its brand-building arsenal (including, but not limited to their "Think Different" and "I'm a MAC" mantras), so these highlight just a few.
How can companies learn from Apple and harness its success within their own campaigns?
What other lessons can loyalty professionals take away from Apple's case study?
How have other major brands like TAM, Sheraton, Bombril and more optimized their strategies for success?