Today, Apple is a leader in the IT industry, and its strengths include knowledge, HR, relationships, selling, and history. The dramatic change made by Apple in the mid-and late 1990s has helped the company to become of the most profitable IT companies in the world and compete with IBM. It is possible to say that effective management and innovative approaches to business were at the heart of organization development and improved performance. Its leader, Steve Jobs, made changes not in a vacuum but within the context of the organizational setting.
The need for dramatic change was caused by strong competition and the development of the new operating system by Microsoft (Windows 95) and a new processor, Pentium; during the mid of 1990s, apple lost its market share, especially in the clone market. In 1998, Apple introduced a new Macintosh compatible with SCSI and ADD. The need for change was caused by innovations in production technologies and computerized systems of manufacturing. IBM and Intel need innovative assembly lines in order to increase volumes of sales and storage capacity (Kahney, 78). The threat for both companies was that investment in new technologies required additional finance that Apple did not have (Monks, 2006).
The next year (in 1999), Apple developed and introduced Mac OS X Server 1.0 and iBook. This innovative solution allows Apple to gain market share and appeal to potential consumers with a value proposition. This system had a new GUI and powerful Unix underpinnings proposing great opportunities for users. These changes can be described as “creative innovations” which implemented new technologies and models in order to meet changing economic conditions (Hertzfeld, 39). This process was closely connected with the integrity perception, which was built into their way of doing things, a ‘passion for integrity’ which applies to employees, customers, suppliers, and other audiences such as the community.
The main task of Apple was to introduce its products to market and attract potential consumers. In the late 1990s, the company developed a new advertising campaign based on the slogan “Think Different.” When a company succeeds in creating more value for customers than its competitors, that company is said to enjoy a competitive advantage in an industry. For Apple, competitive advantage was measured by fast response and flexible workforce able to compete on the market (Hertzfeld, 52). The main advantage of the Apple advertising campaign was the ability to respond to rapid change and changing global environment. The slogan “Think Different” was used in several media in order to attract the attention of customers. Apple used a famous television commercial, ‘Crazy Ones’, print advertisements, and television advertisements. The advantage of this campaign was its focused nature. It means that Apple selected areas in which the organization excelled and meet high standards. Following Kahney (2004): “Thanks to declining advertising market in the late 1990s, MacWeek transformed into the cross-platform eMediaWeekly, an attempt to reflect changes in the computing space‘ (85). Focused’ nature helped Apple to create a competitive advantage and remained one of the most profitable companies at the end of the 1990s.
How did Apple Communicate its Relevance?
Apple followed a differentiation strategy which helped it to distinguish its products from IBM. Many of the advertisements were focused on the brand image of the company rather than its products. While other companies tried to attract attention to their products, Apple advertised its brand and unique brand image. Values, like objectives, were typically multiple and conflicting, their ranking constantly altering with changes in circumstance (Hertzfeld, 102). Differentiation strategy was based on the unique image of Apple and its values. Its symbol was a sign that conjured up something additional to its reference, namely what it signified for potential consumers. Using specific slogans, which embodied a complexity of information for those to whom they were significant, Apple promoted specific culture and persuaded customers to buy Apple computers. Thus, “customer loyalty was the only thing that saved Apple during the late 1990s” (Kahney, 247). However, a process giving special significance to the ‘uniqueness of each product led to a particular concern about identity reflecting the individual and group desire to be “different” (Lesikar et al. 34).
The slogan and advertising images were aimed to attract young people and those who opposed traditional norms and lifestyles. Apple communicated to a wide target audience who wanted to be and remain different, keeping a unique personal identity and the self. Apple appealed to diverse customer groups who valued the power of aesthetic attraction (Hertzfeld 105). In this case, Apple persuaded consumers to make purchases valued not just for their functional utility but also for their symbolic utility. Brand images distinguished the various makers of computers in the eyes of the consumer. Apple products, as possessions, helped consumers project a certain social identity.
Innovations and promotion campaign developed by Apple was very effective because it helped the company to gain its market share and attract a wide target audience. Symbols and signs of Apple products originated in the physiological and social needs of life and were characterized by a feeling of incompleteness on the part of the individual, which led to attempts to supply that which was missing. Unique brand image focused attention of consumers on qualities and uniqueness of the propositions, company history, and success. Differentiation strategy and unique approach to promotion led to success and customers’ loyalty.
- Hertzfeld, A. Revolution in the Valley. O’Reilly Media. 2004.
- Kahney, A. The Cult of Mac. No Starch Press; 1st Edition edition, 2004.
- Lesikar, R.V., Flatley, M.E., Rentz, K. Basic Business Communications. McGraw Hill Higher Education. 2006.
- Monks, N. What Apple Did Right in the Nineties. 2006.