In this opinion piece we analyse how the rumour mill affects brand perception in the run up, launch and post launch of the new iPhone coming some time in September.
Apple is a sentiment-driven brand. The average Apple product owner is incredibly brand loyal and the brands retention of it’s cutomers is unrivalled. This loyalty has created a new process of marketing which is called ‘movement’ marketing. This is a cultural creation that focuses on the brand’s cultural construct over the brand’s physical attributes, desiring the product as a cultural “status symbol” rather than for its technical merits.
Now, you might be asking why is this important and how is it related to the Apple rumour mill machine? It is about the issue of sustainability. Each year, a new horde of web blogger and journos will fall over themselves professing to know what will and will not be included in the next generation iPhone. This annual pilgrimage of rumour, fallacy and downright lies has created a sub-culture of its own. All of this leads to an interesting proposition: can the rumour mill create dissatisfaction among consumers? This blog is about making Apple lovers fall in love with Apple once again by looking at the big picture!
According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple could be experiencing a shift from sentiment-driven to rumour-driven sales decline. This is based on a perceived sense of consumer dissatisfaction based on rumour and product outcomes. The brand loyalty is incredibly strong. Forbes argues that Apple has never marketed its products it has always marketed its visions. Apple’s brand loyalty is defined from the outside in. The staff, the production values and the presentation of its wares to the world all cultivate strong brand loyalties – as does the spirit of Steve – which creates a vast amount of capital in terms of positive marketing outcomes. However, post-release sentiment has taken a hit in recent years. Could this be about rumour and dissatisfaction?
According to researchers, Apple experienced a negative sentiment rating after the release of the iPhone 6 and 6s. Analysis of Twitter and Reddit found that negative sentiment towards Apple was based on rumour of new features and specifications not becoming reality. This dysfunctional connection between brand loyalty, following rumours and being underwhelmed at the launch of a product was at the centre of this change in Apple brand sentiment. Negative sentiment over a long-period of time can lead to a reduction in sales and negative brand awareness. Apple will need to face up to this reality. However, the company cannot counter every rumour but on the flip side is the company too secretive? Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet have long reported on the development process of a product. Apple has always processed its promotional activity in relation to its legion of fans.
The iPhone 7 will be announced very soon. All we can do is wait. There have been a few leaks – regarding the loss of the audio jack, the home button and increased waterproofing. However, we are in pinch of salt territory. We should remember why Apple is a great technology company. Apple’s brand sentiment should be focused on how it innovated and keeps innovating. The iPhone 7 will continue in this proud tradition and will help to foster new fans whilst appeasing the old. September can’t come soon enough.
UPDATE: Sure enough, as anticipated the rumour mill is flying again with news that the “Pro” version of the iPhone 7 may be cancelled, thus proving developments and rumours do not stop until the iPhone has been announced!