Why Apple's Move Into Luxury Branding Is A Great Strategy

Why Apple's Move Into Luxury Branding Is A Great Strategy

The Apple Spring Forward event, held on March 9th, 2015 in San Francisco, was a milestone for the history of the company. Not only did it see the unveiling of the eagerly awaited Apple Watch, which marks, not only Cupertino's entrance into the wearable technology market, but also its backing for exclusivity and luxury.

Behind the Apple Watch Edition lies much more than carat gold. It's just the tip of the iceberg of Apple's strategy to become a diverse, global superbrand, freed from its grip on technological innovation.

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If you can't be the best, at least be different

The expression "It never rains, but it pours" fits Apple like a glove. During the decade in which Steve Jobs became the CEO of the company (2000-2011), Apple redefined its own operating system (OS X), revolutionized the distribution and reproduction of music (iTunes, iPod) and with the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, a whole new industry was invented.

Apple was the leader of technological innovation during the first decade of the new millenium. But since the launch of the iPad in the spring of 2010, that role has been under attack. Firstly, because Apple has been more conservative in their strategy, restricting themselves, year after year, to doubling their products' specs. And secondly, because on releasing Android, Google created such an open and attractive platform, that mobile device manufacturers and software developers formed a mobile ecosystem whose supremacy is hardly questionable.

These days, 75% of mobile devices found on the market are Android. Apple, the sole platform developer and the only manufacturer of their products, just cannot compete when it comes to innovation, against an entire ecosystem of thousands of smaller, fastest and more dynamic players.

The Cupertino group has been forced to take another route. A change that has nothing to do with their current economic situation - Apple is still the most valuable company in the world according to Forbes and products continue to beat previous sales records - But instead, it has a lot to do with their ability to predict the market, leaving behind the purely technological endevours and becoming a diverse, global superbrand.

It's no longer enough to be a brand, working only in the technology industry. Apple wants to move into other markets and the only way to survive in each of them is to create a strong brand that links consumers to quality, luxury and exclusivity. Apple's luxury strategy is to become a love brand as the step before beginning the approach to new markets, which are already overflowing with competitors.

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Apple in The Age of Context

The hype that the mobile revolution has brought about, is about to send us into what Robert Scoble and Shel Israel have nicknamed The Age of Context.

In The Age of Context, all of our everyday activity will be automatically measured and quantified via hundreds of sensors, wearable technology and The Internet of Things. Powerful algorithms will interpret the Big Data to give us a final analysis and recommendations on our behavior, without the need for conscious interaction with technology (zero interaction).

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In this brand new arena, the tendency to connect new objects with the entire ecosystem will only continue. Smartwatches and fitness bands are just the first step. Smart shoes will probably be the second. But soon, there'll be sensors everywhere.

Apple has a very relevant role to play in this era of 'smartification' which is upon the horizon. Firstly, because it has the technological know-how which other companies lack as they engage in the smart arena (Nike, Rolex etc). And secondly, with its luxury and exclusivity strategy, Apple can step away from the pack of those who do have a strong hold on technology (Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, etc...).

Technology and Exclusivity

So Apple really doesn't need to keep on vying for pole position in great technology race of the decade. It doens't need to be the fastest, nor does it need to sell the most. Its future success resides in the fact that users simply see their products as unique, and without comparison. In the last few years we've seen it's possible for just about anyone to join the technology sprint, but few are actually in the position to build a love brand based on exclusivity.

Apple can simply because it has spent so long paving the way. You just need to see their ad campaigns to know that Apple doesn't just sell devices: it's a purveyor of status and experiences.

You could easily think that Apple were out of the minds to launch a ten million dollar smartwatch if you took it at face value as simply technology. But Apple doesn't aspire to be the most exclusive among technology producers. In The Age of Context, Apple wants to be the brand that takes technology BEYOND its current position, and transfer it to each new smart object. In the new smart game, only love brands will be capable of entering into new markets with the credibility and assurance that consumers will follow their lead.

We'll leave you with a little CollegeHumor video which serves up with a satirical edge exactly what we've been talking about.

Are you loyal enough to splash out each new Apple luxury, as they come out? Share your love in the Comments!