The decline in Apple’s positioning visible in positioning matrix

The decline in Apple’s positioning visible in positioning matrix

Apple has undergone spectacular growth in recent years. People queued up to purchase the latest variant, whether it was an iPad, iPhone, or iPod, the introduction guaranteed excitement. Everyone wanted to be the first to own such a device!

Apple’s positioning still stands for beautiful designs and quality, but something is amiss. The fairy tale of the ever-growing brand is beginning to show cracks. According to analysts, sales are falling short, and the trade press doubts the innovation power. This has consequences for the company’s value. How is this possible? We explain this using our positioning matrix.

positionering apple positioneringsmatrix

Apple’s positioning in the past

Apple was always the disruptor, not a mainstream brand intended for everyone. In its early years, the brand was adored by creative individuals. Designers, musicians, and architects were enamored with it. Somewhat exaggeratedly: less “trendy” people worked with Windows.

Apple always did things differently and was always the first to introduce certain innovations. The brand also perfected certain existing products. A prime example is the MP3 player. As early as 1998, the South Korean company SaeHan Information Systems brought this to the market. Apple’s first iPod followed three years later. But who remembers the South Korean company now? Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player, but it definitively put it on the map. The brand’s identity (design, innovation, trendiness) perfectly matched the market’s perception.

Apple’s positioning now

But how is Apple doing now? Of course, Apple still has many admirers, and people still line up for the next model. But the brand is undoubtedly under pressure. Walk into any Apple Store, and you’ll notice that the average age of visitors has increased significantly. We’re not saying that older people can’t be trendy, but the target group that Apple once stood for is now in the minority.

The brand’s innovative power is declining, and we increasingly hear in the press and corridors that a new model doesn’t offer much more than the previous one. The competition is not standing still and regularly outperforms Apple in terms of innovation. The market perception is therefore increasingly at odds with the brand’s identity.

It seems that Apple is facing an identity crisis; the target group it has built itself on for years is searching for the ‘next big thing,’ and the current customer base is loyal to Apple for entirely different reasons. Apple is therefore facing a crucial choice:

It can continue on its current path, adapt its brand identity to the new and highly profitable market position, and align its communication accordingly. Or it must return to basics and refocus on groundbreaking innovation, design, and trendiness, and less on ‘mainstream appeal.’

We don’t expect shareholders to be eager for a return to the brand’s niche days, as even after the recent decline in stock value, the share’s value has quadrupled over the past year! So, expect Apple to stick to the familiar formula and for truly revolutionary products to come from elsewhere.

This example once again demonstrates the power of the positioning matrix; the positioning choice that a brand faces is made crystal clear. In the original article, we explain the structure of the model.

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