How is that even possible? Aren’t premium brands the domain of the well to do and not the commonplace man? Apple has managed to make a premium brand and a line of premium products affordable to an ever growing segment of the middle class.
Perception Is Reality
My fiancé owns a BMW. That’s a premium brand automobile. It has features, capabilities, and a desirable brand beyond the pedestrian Honda, Toyota, Ford, or Chevy of mainstream America.
I can buy a very good automobile for half the price of my fiancé’s BMW, but no matter how durable and dependable it may be, and other than getting from point A to point B for less money, it’s not a BMW and won’t perform or feel at all like a BMW.
Apple’s brand is more like an affordable luxury car brand, whether it be Mac, iPhone, or iPad. In fact, name another brand of PC, smartphone, or tablet that actually costs more than a similar product from Apple.
Apple’s brand is premium, yet affordable. Whether Mac, iPhone, or iPad, Apple’s products own the premium segment of PCs, smartphones, and tablets– in sales units and profit. In fact, Apple’s profits are completely disproportionate to the marketshare for each product line.
Sizzle? Or, Steak?
Apple’s critics point out that you can buy similar products at lower prices and, in some cases, with similar quality and better features.
That’s because Apple does a better job selling the sizzle of the steak than the steak itself. People who discriminate with their tastes and back it up with their purchases like the Apple sizzle, and are mostly satisfied with the steak portion (even if other products have more features).
The whole that exceeds the sum of the parts is Apple’s mantra, the visible sizzle of the steak, if you will. Apple’s products will look and feel superior to similar competitor products, even though a competitor’s products may have superior features (more RAM, higher screen resolution, more storage for less, etc.) and perform similarly.
In product marketing, differentiation is a key component. Apple’s products are differentiated in many ways– from price to esthetic design to usability, and in some cases durability and resale value. What you do on a Mac, iPhone, or iPad may be much the same as how you’d use a Windows PC, a Galaxy S4 smartphone, or any Android-based tablet, but Apple’s usability sizzle will make the discriminating customer feel better about the experience.
Apple isn’t only about the sizzle. The steak is very good. But Apple is more about sizzle than steak, and that’s what differentiates Apple’s premium brand from competitors.