The American Marketing Association defines marketing research as an endeavor that connects consumers, brand customers, and/or the general public with the organization’s marketing team in order to monitor market performance and identify marketing opportunities and threats (Wrenn, Loudon & Stevens 2002).
There are two ways of conducting a marketing research, qualitative and/or quantitative, where the qualitative technique tries to understand and analyze consumer behavior towards brands, products, etc., while the quantitative technique seeks to numerically measure market sentiment (Hague & Hague 2004 p.10).
An example of a qualitative technique is conducting a focus group wherein data is collected from a random group by interviewing and observing them in regards a particular issue. An example of a quantitative technique is running a survey whereby a predetermined set of questions is asked (Kolb 2008).
We shall examine how marketing research has resulted in Apple’s successes, despite them maintaining distance from it earlier.
WHAT A FALLOUT WITH SAMSUNG REVEALED ABOUT APPLE
The case of 2011 is centred around Apple’s allegation of patent and copyrights infringement by Samsung. Samsung was found guilty, and despite the court order that had them pay up millions of dollars, a final resolution has not been reached till this day. Click here for more detail about the case!
During its course till date, the case has pulled the veil on a number of critical corporate documents that Apple did not ever wish to disclose. One of them was a comprehensive survey that they conducted that year named Apple Market Research & Analysis, May 2011. This was done as there was a growing concern that Android handset sales outperformed those of the iPhone.
This was surprising as tech legend Steve Jobs once famously said in an interview that he hesitated undertaking a marketing research especially during the product development phase.
He added that it is tough for customers to articulate what exactly they need, unless they have been shown the product. Hence, Apple’s job was (and has remained) to focus on innovation and present the products to their customers, who would THEN be able to give feedback.
How he wished he hadn’t initiated the patent fallout with Samsung!
HOW GIVING IN TO UNDERTAKING A SURVEY BENEFITED JOBS AFTER ALL
This research is exemplary, courtesy of the characteristics it possesses. It features an extensive use of surveys to reach out to their customer base. Some specific findings of the report are noteworthy, I’ll tell you the reasons why.
- The first set of findings had iPhone owners consider buying Android devices. That they wouldn’t buy an iPhone because it lacked easy transferability of music and other media among different devices, was almost every participant’s response.
- In the second set of findings where Android devices were not in the picture, phone features were an important factor in deciding to buy an iPhone.
How is it noteworthy? Apple launched a series of innovations later that year; a few directly addressing the above findings were:
- For easy transferability, they launched iCloud.
- Apple introduced iPhone 4S alongside iOS 5 and ‘great new features’ to iPod Touch and iPod Nano.
Click here for a list of other releases that year.
Some of these products went on to reach milestones. This wasn’t coincidence, but the result of those survey findings.
This is no more a secret as they still request users to fill up their Market Research Surveys. These surveys take ten minutes to complete, and are all the more explicit as they ask participants minute details as to why they considered buying an Android device before settling for an iPhone. Questions (right) range from design and device manufacturer to whether or not the product was a recent launch.
NOT THE FOCUS GROUPS NOW!!!
Not only did Apple conduct surveys, they also launched a fully fledged website to arrange online focus groups of users. This panel would represent a broader Apple Customer Pulse that would answer periodic questionnaires.
The Pulse was an online focus panel of iPhone users who would be sent two surveys a month by email to fill out. Every survey would address various subjects and issues facing iPhone loyalists.
Kunzler (2011) testified as an iPhone user and survey participant that Apple Customer Pulse was an exclusive website where those who held Apple accounts were invited to sign up all over on the server. Emails would then be sent out to them to partake in the surveys. They would take only up to three minutes, and were efficient and ‘fun to fill out’.
Apple’s Product Marketing leader Greg Joswiak admitted that they did conduct marketing research. Why it was kept away from the public, was because they did not want to let out the areas of Apple’s competitive advantages.
Justifiably so, as Apple overtook Samsung on smartphone sales in 2012 on the back of the iPhone 4S launch, rubbing more salt into Samsung’s wounds from the legal fallout.
By Yogesh K. Sewani
Hague, P, & Hague, N 2004, ‘Market Research in Practice: A Guide to the Basics’, Kogan Page, London, ProQuest ebrary, retrieved 11 August 2016.
Kolb, BM 2008, ‘Marketing Research: A Practical Approach’, London SAGE, EBSCOhost, retrieved 11 August 2016.
Kunzler, JG 2011, ‘Inside Apple’s New “Customer Pulse” Program’, MacTrast, weblog post, 5 May, retrieved 14 August 2016, <http://www.mactrast.com/2011/05/inside-apples-new-customer-pulse-program/>.
Wrenn, B, Loudon, D, & Stevens, R 2002, ‘Marketing Research: Text And Cases’, New York : Best Business Books, EBSCOhost, viewed 11 August 2016.