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  • Select a brand that you find interesting or attractive, and identify the most important characteristics of the brand. (Note: It is not necessary that you pick a successful brand; for example, you may choose a brand that has been recently introduced to your country. It is highly recommended that you choose a brand that is not directly related to your current or past job position.)
  • Research various sponsorships in which your selected brand has participated. Also research public relations communications from the brand. These may be related to crises, to product/service updates or to other changes.
  • Consider any instances in which you have seen your selected brand featured in a sales setting, and note the ways that the marketer attempts to get you to buy this product. If you have not seen the particular brand promoted in person, use the Internet to search for images of in-store promotions. Think about the following ways in which the brand is promoted:
    1. Location of the product in retail stores
    2. Employee knowledge of the product
    3. Arrangement of the product so that it appeals to the five senses
    4. Review the social media presence of your brand.
  1. Describe the brand, its background and its promotional mix.
  1. Discuss its general strong and weak characteristics. Also, analyse its positioning, including how the brand is differentiated from the competition.
  1. Analyse sponsorships in which your selected brand has participated. Explain why and how this relationship has been beneficial to the brand, based on research of reactions to and results of the sponsorship. Evaluate the effectiveness of the sponsorships, using your readings to justify your evaluation.
  1. Describe how marketers promote the brand at the point of purchase. Evaluate the knowledge and personal sales experience of those who sell this selected brand. Give specific examples of ways that personal selling benefits or detracts from the potential sale of this brand.
  1. Analyse the social media presence of your selected brand. Add a conclusion in which you offer recommendations for how your selected brand could improve its promotional mix.
Apple as a Brand

Apple as a brand as is well known is outstanding and is one of the leading brands in the world. The branding strategies used by the firm are varied and are mostly focussed on the emotions of people. Its customer base is hence increasing at exponential rates (Johnson, Folkes and Wang 2018). The firm uses customer experience to garner respect and trust. The brand tends to advertise the gains of the customer out of using the brand, which is primarily an increase in lifestyle. The firm tries to focus on the use of technology to reach goals which are otherwise are otherwise not easily achievable.

Apple as a firm is a multinational firm that was initially established as Apple Computer, Inc. Which diversifies in the field of producing computers (Morhart et al. 2015). The products of Apple include computer processors, servers, personal electronic gadgets and personal computers as well. The core products of Apple include iPhone smartphone, iPad tablet computer, iPod portable media players, and Macintosh computer line. The company was officially incorporated in the year 1977 and for more than a period of three decades the firm has been solely producing computers. In the year 2001, the introduction and manufacturing of iPhone and  iTunes Music Store increased the profit levels (Shaw et al. 2016). After this the firm launched and in fact has been launching a series of IOS system phones which have made a substantial market base and this has led Apple into becoming the leading firm producing consumer electronics.

The promotional mix for the products sold by Apple are primarily aimed at increasing the existing levels of information technology, online services and consumer products. The promotional mix of the firm can be described and analyzed into the four segments of product, price, place and price. These features are mentioned as follows:

The major products produced by Apple include goods and services that fall under the category of information technology. The product line of Apple has increased over the years and recently covers a varied cohort of products including iPad, iPhone, Mac, Apple TV, Apple watch, Software, Accessories, Digital Content and Cloud Services. The business processes associated with these products are product based divisions of the firm that are situated at various locations across the world (Fan, Lau and Zhao 2015). The firm’s present strategies are also diversified in  the field of digital content such that it includes games, e-books, videos and music. Further, the company’s products are also based on cloud technology which allows and enables customers to access their data and use their software directly as a service. As a matter of fact, Apple is one of the best examples of how a firm has diversified from a business that is completely based on computer technology to a firm that has varied service lines focused on information technology.

The two most important pricing strategies used by Apple  include premium pricing strategy and free pricing strategy. The premium pricing strategy involves setting high prices of the products that is above the average price level of the products. In return the firm claims to provide services that are above the levels persisting in the market and the level of services expected. Studies assert that this firm has been able to combine premium branding with creative innovation (Ashley and Tuten 2015). This has successfully led the firm to capture a secured position in terms of competition. The other pricing strategy followed b y the firm involves a free pricing strategy which is actually an amalgamation of free pricing and premium pricing strategies. This pricing strategy involves services of Apple which are free but access to better versions of the free services require additional payments on part of the customers. This enables Apple as a firm to accrue higher levels of profit.

Background

In the context of place Apple has a firm has developed some innovative distribution strategies that enable the firm to serve customers on time and in the best possible ways. The distributional strategy of Apple involves Apple Store locations, telecommunications companies, authorized sellers and company owned online stores and online stores for desktops and mobiles. The trick used across all stores of Apple involve selling the devices of Apple along with other peripheral devices from other manufacturers which are complementary to and manufactured for better usage of the Apple products. In addition to all of this, the products of Apple can be ordered from their online stores and website. This strategy of online stores helps the firm to optimize the resources internationally. Further, the firm also sells its products through a number of distribution channels based on authorized dealers as well. These authorized dealers are known for running stores in different strategized places all around the world, including shopping malls. There are certain authorized resellers as well who sell both through their seller accounts and their own stores. The promotional strategy is thus a combination of online and offline distribution channels.

The promotional strategies of the firm include a lot of processes including advertising, sales promotions, personal selling and public relations. The most widely used lines of promotion include Google’s advertising channels and websites with technology news. All sales promotions are usually carried out at the stores of Apple (Islam 2018). The firm is also known for using public relations that will help in increasing the corporate ties and brand image of the firm. The advertising of special features of Apple, exclusive interviews, press releases and other evens of Apple are done in a highly strategized and well coordinated manner until the product or service of the firm is actually launched officially. The firm also carries various social responsibilities trough initiatives that serve both the purposes of giving back to the community in which they operate and promoting the products in a systemized manner (Wilson 2018). One such initiative is ConnectED, which allows the firm to promote formal forms of education along with marketing and advertising the product. The firm also uses its corporate ties to promote the stakeholder management along with promotion of its products.

The strengths of Apple as a firm and a brand are varied are varied and include a lot of factors like the ability of the firm to develop and consistently design all of its hardware, software, services and applications. This vehemently allows the firm to constantly cater to the changing demand trends of the customers all over the world and provide them with something new and advanced every time. The firm has been successful in continuously providing innovative, unique, user friendly and solutions for its wide cohort of customers. This enables the customers to develop trust on the brand and convinces them to use and buy the premium products of Apple (Espinosa, Monahan and Ortinau 2016). This in turn provides Apple with competitive advantage over other firms in the market. Moreover, he advertising and marketing skills of the firm are also unmatched in today’s market and appeals a lot to the customers.

Promotional Mix

Although, Apple is one of the highest revenue generation firms in the world today, the firm like every other firm is also faced with some weaknesses. The first problem facing Apple is that it is perceived and indeed is a closed system. The stringently controlled software and services of the firm puts additional pressure on the firm’s developmental cycle including software and system which becomes an in-house responsibility (De Pelsmacker, Geuens and Van den Bergh 2007). The firm also has content selling license agreements which are equally stringent. Even though the major revenue generation channel for the firm is hardware, the closed nature of the firm causes the firm to take up the additional responsibilities of regulating all other forms of business related to the hardware so that it continuously provide the same features as the products of its competitors along with added features. Moreover, the high expectations attached to the brand does not allow the firm to produce experimental products and services for the consumers as the best quality is always expected out of the firm.

Apple as a brand is differentiated from all of its other competitors in terms of its versatility and also its closed ecosystem. The strategies used for developing as well as marketing in case of the software especially have reaped added benefits in terms of market positioning of the firm. Further, developers are always more attracted to Apple than to other competitors as they are always able to earn more out of Apple’s specialised software as compared to an Android or Windows software development (Giri, Roy and Maiti  2017). The feature of minimalism which involves new but elegant designs is another competitive advantage of the firm. The firm has also been very efficient in hiring the best experienced professionals for managing and operating all of the different systems involved which provides it with added competitive advantage.

Apple has been participating in a lot of sponsorships in order to enhance their public as well as corporate relations. Tampa Bay Lightning is one of the most renowned sponsorships that Apple has associated itself with. Apple has contributed substantially which has in turn helped the brand increase the brand value and trust on part f the corporate ties it has nurtured with the firm. It has been one of the few national sponsors that has contributed to the firm.

In the year 2016, Apple has successfully sponsored the Super Bowl which is generally funded by local government sponsorships. However, even though Apple has provided sponsorships it has not been able to be actively involved in the game as a whole. It has also been speculated that the reason for Apple helping out with the sponsorship, is very apparent and not clearly understood. The biggest sponsorship till date by Apple however, has been in this event. Apple is basically sponsoring the host community which is responsible for financing and organising the logistics of the game. It has been found on careful investigation that Apple has been able to sponsor this event easily because of a few advantages including the close proximity of the new campus that Apple is currently building and the Levi's Stadium in San Francisco where it is being hosted. This has actually boosted Apple’s image in the technology industry, in this region. Thus, Apple’s main strategy was not to market its new services or products to the direct audiences of the Super Bowl event but the corporate firms providing sponsorship and managing the internal operations behind the event.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Apple

Besides these Apple has been known for providing sponsorships to a number of film and television productions as these help the firm to feature its logo in these films. One of the few other big sponsorships of Apple include the most recent case wherein the firm sponsored for the German football club, Bayern Munich primarily to promote Apple Music. The deal included clauses under which Bayern players and other staff were responsible for assembling and generating unique content for Apple Music which would include football videos and interviews as well.

These sponsorships have helped the firm in various ways especially in terms of building corporate relations with firms that will help in increasing the reach of the firm in different industries within the same country (Winter and Thompson-Whiteside 2017). The method of providing sponsorships is considered to be a process of differentiating Apple from its competitors in terms of current and prospective customers. Some sponsorship events eve allow Apple to increase the number or generation rate of sales both in the short and long run. The firm is also able to enhance the public relations it has with  the community and helps in improving the relations of the employees to the firm (Tsimonis and Dimitriadis 2014).  It has also helped Apple boost its relations with the government bodies in the different countries where it sells its products and services.

Point of Purchase is one of the few differently used marketing strategies. It involves marketing the product to consumers who have already entered the store. It is generally involved with providing details of the products to the consumers who are convinced already abut he decision that they are going to buy the product (Perales et al. 2016). It helps the marketers and the retailers to influence the decision of the consumers at the end moment.

Apple uses this strategy of marketing in both the online and offline distribution centres. This is one of the important strategies used by the firm. However, the firm is not dependent on this strategy as it has a brand value and customer trust generated that earns the revenue generation rates for the firm primarily. To maintain the level of trust and brand value, Apple has established exclusive stores for the consumers. These stores are constructed with an ambience and environment that helps in attracting loyal customers on a repeated basis. Increasingly the concept o promotional messages are being used as point of purchase are being used by Apple with the soaring premium services and pricing strategies being used by the firm. It has increasingly helped in attracting customers that are not able to pay for the high prices at one time but are able to pay through several timed payments.

Retailers who have personal selling experiences and knowledge about the sales strategies of Apple claim that catering to the personalised and customised demands of the customers is one of the crucial concepts followed by all retailers and resellers of Apple. Further, the alignment of the products to the ambience of the store is also an important process which is a part of point of purchase marketing strategy (Chang, Yu and Lu 2015). Moreover, it is also very important to take care of the products and the equipments in a personal manner. Customer satisfaction and loyalty is the first and foremost priority of the firm. It is also asserted that innovation is also increasingly being used by the retailers to explain the features of the different devices sold by the firm. It is also important to note that additional features of guarantee and warranty are explained by the retailers and sellers to the customers. Special care is provided to customers depending on the number of years they have been using the products of Apple, the variety of goods used and the number of purchases made depending upon the time span for which they have been using the products of Apple.

The use of point of purchase strategy for marketing the products of Apple is especially important as the firm is known for producing new series of products every six months in every financial year (Abdelfattah et al. 2016). It is one way of ensuring the customers that they can use any of the services and goods with the help of the payment schemes that the firm has come up with. More than sales generation, this approach helps firms in continuously improving the already existing bonds with the customers and especially the loyal customers. As a matter of fact, the retailers use specialised applications developed by the firm itself to both design the stores as well as to carry out point of purchase marketing (Wang et al. 2017). The basic goal that is achieved by this firm of marketing is that every customer who has walked into the store should be persuaded in a positive way to use the services and goods of the firm and hence should be spending on the products. This is thus the most effective and efficient method of increasing the competitive advantage of the firm as well as securing a substantial target market in the industry of technology and computer as well as electrical gadgets manufacturing.

Apple is one of the few firms in the international marketing such that it does not need any social media presence on the whole. However, one can find stark features that Apple has used as a firm to differentiate the approach of customer base from other firms. One such characteristic of the social media pages of Apple is that the pages are almost bereft of any kind of information about the plans, progress or even the features of the products that they are already selling or planning to sell (Fuchs 2017). If the social media pages of the firm are followed on a regular basis, it will be observed that Apple uses social media pages only for the fact of keeping their presence felt. It does not use these pages to promote the products. Apple as a firm has established a brand value and uses this in combination with the innovative power to make promotional strategies that are enough to generate substantial amounts of sale all over the world and hence does not need to use the social media pages for this particular purpose (Vinerean et al. 2013). The use of social media pages for such purposes will place the firm on the same page as its competitors (Smith 2013). It is this strategy that is efficiently used by the firm to gain comparative advantage in the market. The firm uses the social media pages to provide easy usage benefits to its customers. One of the examples is @AppleSupport which is a twitter handle used by the firm to help consumers in resolving their issues related to usage of the services and products. Similarly @AppleMusic is another twitter handle wherein features like new music knowledge or even interviews of musicians are shared and discussed.

Recommendations and Conclusion:

In terms of not using the social media pages for promotion of the products and services is b y far one of the smartest strategies used by the firm in order to remain ahead of its competitors. The use of innovation and a closed ecosystem of management and production is the toughest and also the very feature that completely distinguishes the firm from all other competitors. Although this imposes added pressure on the firm, it is handled effectively and efficiently by the firm. However, the firm should increasingly use the different features of the social media pages to resolve the concerns and queries of the consumers. Besides this, the point of purchase strategy used by the retailers and the resellers of Apple products is efficient and useful. Moreover, the sponsorships can be increased by marginal amounts, not to increase the consumer base or as a promotional strategy but to improve the corporate ties of the firms.

References:

Abdelfattah, A., Wisniewski, M., Droby, S. and Schena, L., 2016. Spatial and compositional variation in the fungal communities of organic and conventionally grown apple fruit at the consumer point-of-purchase. Horticulture research, 3, p.16047.

Ashley, C. and Tuten, T., 2015. Creative strategies in social media marketing: An exploratory study of branded social content and consumer engagement. Psychology & Marketing, 32(1), pp.15-27.

Chang, Y.T., Yu, H. and Lu, H.P., 2015. Persuasive messages, popularity cohesion, and message diffusion in social media marketing. Journal of Business Research, 68(4), pp.777-782.

De Pelsmacker, P., Geuens, M. and Van den Bergh, J., 2007. Marketing communications: A European perspective. Pearson education.

Espinosa, J.A., Monahan, L. and Ortinau, D.J., 2016. Understanding the Strengths and Weaknesses of a Firm’s Overall Restaurant Brand Image: An Importance Performance Analysis. In Celebrating America’s Pastimes: Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Marketing? (pp. 625-626). Springer, Cham.

Fan, S., Lau, R.Y. and Zhao, J.L., 2015. Demystifying big data analytics for business intelligence through the lens of marketing mix. Big Data Research, 2(1), pp.28-32.

Fuchs, C., 2017. Social media: A critical introduction. Sage

Giri, B.C., Roy, B. and Maiti, T., 2017. Multi-manufacturer pricing and quality management strategies in the presence of brand differentiation and return policy. Computers & Industrial Engineering, 105, pp.146-157.

Islam, K.J., 2018. Digital Marketing Mix.

Johnson, A.R., Folkes, V.S. and Wang, J., 2018. When one bad apple spoils consumers’ judgment of the brand: exposure to an employee’s non-workplace transgression and potential remedies. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, pp.1-19.

Morhart, F., Malär, L., Guèvremont, A., Girardin, F. and Grohmann, B., 2015. Brand authenticity: An integrative framework and measurement scale. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25(2), pp.200-218.

Perales, M.A., Drake, E.K., Pemmaraju, N. and Wood, W.A., 2016. Social media and the adolescent and young adult (AYA) patient with cancer. Current hematologic malignancy reports, 11(6), pp.449-455.

Shaw, H., Ellis, D.A., Kendrick, L.R., Ziegler, F. and Wiseman, R., 2016. Predicting smartphone operating system from personality and individual differences. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(12), pp.727-732.

Smith, S., 2013. Conceptualising and evaluating experiences with brands on Facebook. International Journal of Market Research, 55(3), pp.357-374.

Tsimonis, G. and Dimitriadis, S., 2014. Brand strategies in social media. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 32(3), pp.328-344.

Vinerean, S., Cetina, I., Dumitrescu, L. and Tichindelean, M., 2013. The effects of social media marketing on online consumer behavior. International Journal of Business and Management, 8(14), p.66.

Wang, C.Y., Lee, H.C., Wu, L.W. and Liu, C.C., 2017. Quality dimensions in online communities influence purchase intentions. Management Decision, 55(9), pp.1984-1998.

Wilson, E., 2018. Apple's Key Success Factors in the UK that Could Be Learned and Applied by Other Companies from the Same Industry.

Winter, E. and Thompson-Whiteside, H., 2017. Location, location, location: does place provide the opportunity for differentiation for universities?. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 27(2), pp.233-250.

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