Differentiation is a strategy which marketing organisations practice to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors. There are five well-known levels of differentiations. These are product, services, personnel, channel and image differentiation. Apple has built a strong relationship with many devoted fans across the world called “Applellites”, posing as a strong differentiating factor that competitors like Samsung cannot replicate in a short period of time. In this assignment, Apple’s differentiation strategy will be discussed, exploring how the company obtains an advantage over its competitors.
A company can set itself apart from other competitors through its product. This is also called product differentiation. Apple has done so, consistently, with all of its product offerings. Its unique features include its design, functionality, durability and consistency. Apple products are sleek and simplistic. Not only this, but it also has great functionality which differentiates itself from its competitors. This includes iPhone 4S’s internal storage capacity of 64GB compared to Galaxy S II LTE 16GB. Apple has also obtained rights to Liquidmetal which made a strong metal alloy that had the properties that can make future Apple products stronger, lighter and resistant to corrosion.
The Apple store presents itself as a base for customer service. This is one aspect in which Apple differentiates itself. Within the Apple store, customer services are offered which includes ordering ease, installation, customer training, customer consulting and other miscellaneous services. Within the store, there are patient, welcoming staffs that offer assistance to their customers. Not only this, the Apple store provides products on display, ready for potential customers to try out. In addition to Apple store’s customer service, Apple also offers indirect service via technical support call centres.
Apple differentiates itself through the level of personnel differentiation. Yukari Kane, from Wall Street Journal, was interviewed about their research on Apple’s staff training. It was said that the staff within an Apple store have been trained to know how to act from the very moment a customer walks into the store. “The inviting feel of the stores is really carefully planned to the smallest detail”, said by Kane. It is also learned that Apple staffs are trained to refrain from saying negative words such as “unfortunately”. As every aspect is controlled, so is the customer experience. Apple trains their staff members with the acronym A-P-P-L-E:
“Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome,” “Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs,” “Present a solution for the customer to take home today,” “Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns,” and “End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.”
Apple.com serves as a channel in which Apple Inc. tries to differentiate itself from its competitors. The website, itself, is simplistic while catering for the consumers’ needs. These amenities include information, product reviews, help, technical support and product. Its simplistic property makes it very easy for consumers to process purchases or potential buyers to look through Apple products. Consumers are guided within the website with large photographs of products and minimal use of texts, providing a good user experience.
Companies strive to set itself apart from competitors through their brand image. They are able to do this through symbols, high profile people, colours and many more ways. Apple, however, has successfully been made known to have the brand logo of a bitten apple. It has been one of the most famous logos around the world which contributed to Apple’s popularity as it is continually seen everywhere. Apple is also associated with elegance and simplicity. This image is carried through consistently in everything Apple does which creates a strong, credible brand that differentiates the company from other companies. Steve Job has been made famous and is greatly associated with Apple Inc., especially through his keynote speeches.
While Apple is increasingly pressurised by competitors such as Samsung, they possess a strong differentiating factor which Samsung is unable to replicate overnight. Through Apple’s great product, services, personnel, channel and image differentiation, the company was able to create a strong relationship with the customers, thus explaining Apple’s competitive advantage over its competitors.