Apple Brand No Longer Inspiring Consumers

A recent report by the consultancy firm Added Value entitled ‘Cultural Traction’ suggests that Apple is perceived as less inspiring now than it was several years ago.  Over 62,000 people across the globe were asked their opinions on 160 international brands and how strongly each brand is linked with to the descriptors ‘visionary’, ‘inspiring’, ‘bold’ and ‘exciting’.

Ranking top of the table in 2011, Apple was edged out by Google in the 2013 study. While Apple is still perceived as more “bold”, its rival is now viewed by consumers as more visionary and exciting. Samsung has jumped into 3rd place from 7th over the same time period. Microsoft and Sony are also rated highly, remaining consistently in the Top 5 range.

The dip in Apple’s popularity has been seen elsewhere. Between September 2012 and now the company has lost approximately $230 billion (approximately 12.5 trillion INR) of its share value; in a similar time frame it lost out on smartphone sales to Samsung by 21 million.  According to Gartner, at the end of the final quarter of 2012, Google’s Android operating system was the dominant market force with a 69.7 percent worldwide market share, up from 51.3 percent the previous year. Apple’s iOS operating system lost out, however, with a 2.7 percent decrease in market share down to 20.9 percent.

The trend is most notable in emerging markets. At the end of 2012 in India, Samsung led by volume of smartphones sold. In 2013, its closest rival is still Apple, but the number of smartphones coming from Indian manufacturers is increasing rapidly and becoming a competitive market force. Samsung also dominates the smartphone market in China.

Part of the reason that Apple is losing out in these emerging markets is simply because of the iPhone price tag. Cheaper products from their Windows and Android rivals are more appealing to first-time buyers who are seeking a basic smartphone. When consumers want the Apple brand name they are more likely to go for used laptops or older smartphone models, rather than buying the latest version straight from the store. There are downsides to buying any second hand laptops, as this page from Lenovo illustrates, which may lead people to avoid them.

The latest products launched from the Apple portfolio –the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini – were generally regarded as not making much of an impact on the market. In the case of the former it was widely criticized as lacking technical progression from the iPhone 4; with the latter the Kindle and Google Nexus had beat it to its particular market niche. As the Cultural Traction survey shows, the company will need to work harder if it is to capture consumer’s imagination and cash across the world.