Does Apple still think it is a luxury brand?

Apple’s early 2000’s rebranding led to improved sales and the ability to finally jettison that wretched ‘nerd’ dishonor that had hounded the company since the ‘Macintosh’ days. However, with the iPod seemly the people’s favorite (and easily mostly available) MP3 player, iTunes vouchers in each supermarket and the iPad spearheading the increase of tablet pc’s the world over, will Apple still think of itself a ‘luxury’ brand name?

Recently, Apple began comparing their apple ipad mini to Google’s Nexus 7 tablet pc. Surely this can only harm their status as a luxury commodity, right?

Well, yes and no. Although typically, I would have to say ‘no’.

Reported by Evan Clark at fashion site WWD.com, Apple are almost a luxury, but they’re missing out on one important feature.

“Apple embodies almost all of the telltale markings of a luxury retailer. The brand misses on exclusivity, though. The much-anticipated new iPad was launched today and diehards wanting to snatch one up at 12:01 a.m. could. At Wal-Mart…Sexy, eh?” 

Anyone who’s read one of those ‘people of Wall-Mart’ emails (and seen essentially the most garish compilation of pictures this side of the CSI episode) will probably consider Clark’s indictment. He goes on to state that the corporation’s branding has always been inclusive, other than exclusive, conversely. He continues, 

“Apple is successful as a retailer, in part, because has all the elements of luxury but the exclusivity. It’s a club that lots more people can join. The service is good, but the sales staff is wearing T shirts”. 

Personally, Clark is absolutely correct. Apple were never truly ‘exclusive’ in any genuine sensation, unless you count up the days when their pcs were only used by programming nerds. And believe me, nobody does.

Apple has positioned itself as a luxury brand name only inasmuch as it suits them to try and do so.

Yes, they put out a great pair of products and yes; they charge lots of money for these products. On the other hand, Apple is on the market to anybody who can match that price, which, in an age of store cards, loans and the need of getting a working laptop or computer in the house, is a fair amount of us.

The comparisons to that Google nexus 7 help Apple to strengthen their brand as an commerce leader, reminding us that for a little more money, we can purchase a greater product, or at least, they hope that’s the way it works.

A few years ago, research analyst Tony Sacconaghi published a note detailing a meeting with (then Apple COO, now CEO) Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer. Within the discussion, Cook is reported to have said that he didn’t want Apple technology to be “just for the wealthy” and Apple were researching into lower priced iPhones as the future project. The iPad Mini can almost be seen as a direct offshoot of this meeting.

In 2011, following the publication of that report, Jason Hiner of Techrepublic.com wrote,

“I don’t think Apple ever intended to build a premium brand in the first place and I don’t think the company has ever been totally comfortable being pigeonholed into that market. That’s simply the group that bought into Apple’s vision and was willing to pay a premium for it”.

He might well be right, even though I would claim that his summing up downplays the genius of Apple’s promoting methods to some extent. This indicates that Apple were not really a ‘luxury’ brand to begin with, just a business that exciting high costs for premium quality produce.