EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING: APPLE
Apple Computers was in need of a new retailing strategy and a more widespread adoption of its products. The 2005 annual report mentions that “One of the goals of the retail initiative is to bring new customers to the Company and expand its installed base through sales to computer users who currently do not own a Macintosh computer and first time personal computer buyers.” As a result, Apple has undertaken store based retailing with heavy emphasis on making the customer test the products first hand before purchasing a product. A visit to the Apple Store shows that they have a combination of a free flow layout and a loop layout. According to the company “this helps to guide a consumer’s emotional and intellectual experience through the store”. The design is flexible and fit to the space of the stores leaving enough room to walk around comfortably. It has also been said that 25% at the front of the store is devoted to products, 25% to music and photos, 25% for the Genius Bar and movies, and at the back of the store 25% devoted to accessories and other products. Responsive products or new products are placed at the entrance of the store where there is high visibility even to customers just walking past. For example, the new slim notebook, The Macbook Air with its catchy slogan “thinnovation” had a special display at the entrance of the store with a poster beside it. This can be said to be a technique used to catch the attention of shoppers and encourage them to walk into the store where they are able to actually try out the product first hand. The visual identity created through the strong brand image and effective product display technique used would definitely “pull” target consumers towards the store. Once inside the store, the products are displayed categorically i.e. laptops, ipods, ipod nanos and the flow of customers is maintained by product signs affixed to the ceiling. Steve Jobs, the owner of Apple has mentioned that almost all of Apple’s products are located in the first 25% of the store. Planned purchases by customers are facilitated by using this technique since customers can walk straight to the item of their choice and look at the wide range of options that they can choose from. Co-ordinated displays are also used where cameras, ipods and even piano keyboards are connected to computers. This has been done in order to meet the company’s objective of creating solutions for people rather than just selling products. These sections were thereby termed “solution zones” by Ron Johnson who was heading the retail initiative for Apple. Therefore, the visual appeal created by this display technique is so strong that the consumer already has an idea of the use of the product before the product appeals to his/her aural or tactile components. In-store communications are taken care of by using wall mounted posters with a white background for most products and a black background for products newly launched. A description of the product beyond the customer’s own perception is communicated with the help of a small paper holder placed beside each product with the price on it. However, the space allocation for most products is almost the same. The colours used in-store are white and grey with soft music playing. The help desk/cashier is located towards the middle of the store. This exudes a very calm retail environment which spurs customers to make a purchase and especially recreational shoppers to stay in the store for a longer period of time. Apple has used store atmospherics perfectly when it comes to giving a “hands on” display and shaping an individual’s personal experience of a product and influencing their buying behaviour without much intervention of a salesperson (also termed a “genius”). The store engages a customer’s visual, aural and tactile senses when in store very effectively. By creating this environment, Apple has been able to capture attention, then get...
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