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Target Market Analysis: Apple

Apple Inc. is a company that needs little introduction in virtually any area of world where a discussion of technology or business would take place. However, they struggled for decades to gain a core following in a niche market of people seeking a unique alternative to the dominant personal computer. Then, in a shocking turn of events, the business created a device that would drastically alter the landscape of personal electronics, and eventually propel the company to legendary status in the stock market. But the item was not a computer: it was a personal music player. Now, it is the personal music player.

Apple quickly changed its image from the try-hard computer company, to the dominant force in personal technology. It has been over a decade since the introduction of the iPod, and the device remains synonymous with portable digital music, much like the preceding Walkman in the era of cassettes. However, it is no longer the flagship product of the company. In a development owing strongly to the utilization of existing strengths, Apple has found a new wave of success with the iPhone.

As cell phones were turning into smart phones, Apple capitalized on its relatively new reputation as the leader in personal electronics to target its existing customer base as the most likely buyers of the new device. When it became apparent that the iPhone was one of, if not the most advanced phones on the market, the brand began to appeal to an even wider audience. Their target market changed from people who want portable digital music, which was already a huge demographic, to an even bigger group in to those who want a technologically advanced smart phone.

The rise of the iPod and the subsequent iPhone was largely due to grabbing the attention of the 18-34 age group, the same group that presents the highest risk of defection due to personal beliefs (Goldman, n.d.). Luckily for Apple, they have also established a wealth of brand loyalty, and many of those disgruntled customers will not switch simply due to the legacy of the company. However, due to a new focus on the 35+ demographic (see “genius” adds) and their current status as Goliath, Apple may be taking the chance of alienating their current core user base (Elmer-DeWitt, n.d.). As the members of the older generation are less likely to want an iPhone, the potential losses of this move do not appear to be matched by the reward possibilities, adding more questionability to this targeting strategy.

As it currently stands from my point of view in the local marketplace, the trend away from Apple has yet to become evident. There are still scores of people tapping away on their metallic iPhones, wandering like well-dressed zombies through the streets. There is a massive public excitement each time a new version is released, and by most accounts the iPhone just keeps getting better. Also, to even hear of a personal mp3 player that is not an iPod would be something I have not experienced in quite some time. Although, now that iPhones/smart-phones act as music players in their own right, it is certainly obvious that the company has cannibalized itself. Domination comes with a price, and Apple is paying it by becoming the big, mean corporation that it once stood as a symbol against. Don’t get me wrong, the company is in no danger of suffering irreversible damage, but in the financial industry every dollar matters, and any loss by the company formerly perceived as “perfect” would surely leave a bad taste in the mouth of any Apple supporter. Constant competition in the smart phone market will continue to come from a host of Android phones, as well as the resurgent BlackBerry, and Apple will need to sustain momentum if the iPhone is to remain at the top.

References

Elmer-DeWitt, P. (n.d.). Does a demographic shift explain Apple’s Olympics ads? – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Tech. Fortune Tech: Technology blogs, news and analysis from Fortune  Magazine . Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/08/10/does-a-demographic-shift-explain-apples-olympics-ads/

Goldman, B. (n.d.). Creative director of Apple “genius” campaign quits – Richmond Advertising Examiner.com. Welcome to Examiner.com | Examiner.com. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://www.examiner.com/article/creative-director-of-apple-genius-campaign-quits