Interesante comentario de Nigel Hollis. El trabaja en Millward Brown y habla de los efectos que puede tener el iPhone en el valor de la marca Apple.
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Last week, I was caught off guard when Andrew McMains, a reporter for Adweek, asked me how I thought brand loyalty toward Apple might be affected by the recently announced price cut on the iPhone. Though I had heard the news of the 33 percent price reduction, and realized that some early buyers were unhappy about it, I had not really considered what the implications might be for Apple the brand.
After we discussed the issue on the phone, Andy quoted me as follows (click here to read the full article):
“They will be much slower to buy the first release next time,” said Nigel Hollis, chief global analyst at WPP Group’s Millward Brown in New York. “Moving too quickly to lower the price could prove to be the big misstep, even though the basic strategy makes sense.”
Fair enough, but now that I have had a chance to reflect on the issue, I am not sure that the price reduction will leave a permanent dent in the loyalty of Apple aficionados, even if I remain convinced that dropping the price of the iPhone was a good move.
So why is dropping the price of the iPhone a sensible strategy?
My analysis of Millward Brown’s brand equity data demonstrates that strong attitudinal equity allows a brand to do two things:
Generate more volume sales
Command a higher price relative to competitive brands
But even brands with strong equity have to strike a balance between these two benefits. There is always a trade-off between price and volume sales. The higher a brand’s price relative to the category average, the less volume it will sell. Brands with a high share of volume sales rarely sell at a significant premium. (Though a few brands, such as Gillette and Tide, provide exceptions to this rule, usually a brand which dominates a category ends up defining both consumer expectations and the average price paid.)
So if Steve Jobs has aspirations to take a bigger share of the mobile phone market, then dropping the price is a necessary part of the equation. Selling fewer units at a higher price might generate a higher margin, but bigger can be better in other ways. In addition to simple economies of scale, my analysis suggests that bigger brands also tend to have more stable market shares. There is less risk to future earnings from a big, mid-priced brand than from a smaller, higher-priced one. So there are a lot of reasons to drop the price of the iPhone, apart from making sure the brand sells a million units, as Jobs promised at launch.
What is unusual, even in the world of technology where products are expected to become cheaper over time, is the timing and the magnitude of the price reduction. The iPhone had only been available for a few months before Jobs announced that the price of the 8GB version would drop from $599 to $399. Maybe this move was encouraged by the company’s own launch of the iPod Touch, featuring wireless Web surfing and the same touch-screen interface as the phone. Or maybe it was a defensive move. Isn’t Google meant to be developing a phone too?
Whatever the rationale behind the price cut, it is clear that many early buyers were unhappy at the news, as these quotes from engadget suggest:
I love my iPhone but Apple’s lost me as an early adopter.
That $200 was an “early adopter” tax.
I…I can’t describe the anger. I bought mine 3 weeks ago.
When I spoke with Andy, I said that I thought maybe the price cut had done the damage that expiring iPod batteries and scratched Nano screens could not. After all, it hit people where it hurt – in their wallets. But in the Adweek article, Andy reported that others suggested that “the current backlash will be short-lived, chiefly because of Apple’s fierce brand loyalty and a track record of delivering innovative and ‘cool’ products.”
Intrigued by this difference of opinion, I decided to check out the numbers. Are Apple loyalists really that loyal compared to other tech buyers? The answer from this year’s BRANDZ is a resounding yes (at least as far as the U.S. market is concerned).
People who own an Apple product are far more likely than other brand owners to say that their brand is “setting the trends,” “stylish,” and that it “offers something different.” Not surprisingly, they are far less likely to say that Apple sells at “a more acceptable price.” (But then, that did not put them off buying an Apple product, did it?) What is interesting in the light of the recent pricing furor is that Apple owners are not any more likely than other brand owners to say that their brand is high quality or trustworthy.
So my take on the situation, now I have had a peek at the numbers, is that Apple enthusiasts will probably get over paying the “early adopter tax,” provided Apple keeps on delivering the goodies. What could put a dent in Apple’s loyalty would be the entry into the U.S. market of an equally innovative and stylish phone from a brand like Google. Now that really would be a battle of the brands!
Some come on, Apple fans, tell us—are you gone forever, or will the lure of the new keep you coming back? Let us know.
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