Established in the United States of America in April 1976, Apple Inc is a multinational corporation that designs and manufactures consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include Mac computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. As at January 2010 the company operates 284 retail stores in ten countries, and an online store (www.apple.com/investors). Apple has established a unique reputation in the consumer electronics industry. This includes a customer base that is devoted to the company and its brand, particularly in the United States. Fortune magazine named Apple the most admired company in the United States in 2008, and in the world in 2008, 2009, and 2010 (http://money.cnn.com).
Before discussing how Apple positions its laptop computers in the market, it is important to understand how markets are segmented. Market segmentation is “the segmentation of markets into homogenous groups of customers, each of them reacting differently to promotion, communication, pricing and other variables in the marketing mix” (themanager.org) and is essential when trying to understand customers and what will influence their values and perceptions. A challenge that any marketing plan faces is whether or not to broadly class buyers and segment the market accordingly by using segments such as age, sex, income levels or whether to try and target the smaller buyers and their specific needs and wants. Through segmentation of an aggregated population, Apple can determine what appeals to specific groups, how to target that group and where to position their product and brand.
For Apple and the laptop computer retail markets can be divided into segments such as; demographic, useage, age and lifecycle, gender, income, psychographic, beneficial and behavioural segments. One of the main segments Apple uses in the laptop computer market is behavioural segmentation. This is done by segmenting the market into groups based on consumer knowledge, attitudes towards, uses for and responses to laptop computers. This basis of segmentation was chosen as it was the easiest way to identify the largest group of consumers with the highest potential for growth.
After segmenting the market, the next essential step is product positioning. This is the process of positioning the product relative to competing products in the minds of consumers (Peter & Olson, 1999). Marketing positioning is defined as “arranging for a product to occupy a clear, distinctive and desirable place relative to competing products in the minds of target consumers; formulating competitive positioning for a product and creating a detailed marketing mix” (Kotler et al, 2008 p105).
Dibb and Simkin (2007) establish that for a company such as Apple to be successful it must carefully and precisely decide where to aim their laptop computers in its chosen segments. Furthermore they state that “the needs and wants of targeted customers must be translated into a tangible mix of product, price, promotion and distribution- the brand must stand out and have a clearly defined position” (Dibb & Simkin, 2007, p8).
Jackson (2007) argues that in many cases organisations forget the market positioning stage of the marketing plan process and confuse market segmentation with market positioning. Apple has not done this. Apple very effectively position its laptop computers within the market. Apple actually attacks the category they are in- in this case the laptop computer market. Apple has positioned themselves as...