Module: Marketing Strategy and Innovation MN7013 Case study based individual report

The Apple Case study
Based in California, Apple Inc. is a multinational company which specializes in consumer
electronic devices, online services and software. Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve
Wozniac and Ronald Wayne, the company launched the Apple I computer, a device that
incorporated a very innovative and imaginative type of software for personal computers. In
1977, Apple introduced to the market Apple II which turned into one of the most successful
mass-produced personal computers in the history of commerce, widely popular amongst
households, PC users and also companies. Adopting a spirit of innovation – as its core
business philosophy – Apple was one the first corporations to employ graphical user interface
(GUI) for the development of Apple Lisa in 1983. Apart from the use of ground-breaking
technological innovation, the Apple Company pioneered the introduction of provocative,
imaginative and expensive commercials. The “1984” commercial – directed by the acclaimed
Ridley Scott – promoted the newly-introduced McIntosh computer and is considered as a
masterpiece of marketing communications, voted as one of best TV advertisements of all
In the mid-1980s sales for Apple products went down, primarily due to competition and high
pricing. A conflict between Steve Jobs and CEO John Sculley emerged, since Jobs insisted
that the pricing of Apple products should be more attractive for the consumer markets. The
Apple board of directors removed Steve Jobs from his managerial duties in 1985 and Steve
Wozniac left the company the following year. Competition in the personal computer industry
intensified between 1985 and 1991, since IBM and other high-tech companies offered similar
products with lower prices. In the early 1990s, Apple reacted by introducing lower-cost
consumer models (such as McIntosh Classic and the PowerBook), however the ongoing
presence and continuous launch of so many products by the company led to the
cannibalization of its expensive PC models, lack of focus and consumer confusion since both
their loyal and new customers could not comprehend the differences and value of the old and
new commodities. During the same period, Microsoft was creating a monopoly in market of
software for cheap computers, threatening Apple’s sophisticated but expensive digital
experience. Embarking upon an unsuccessful period of experimentation and introduction of
technologically advanced goods – TV appliances, video consoles and CD players for example
– the company’s profitability and market share fell during the mid-1990s.

After a period of cost-cuts, financial losses and organizational restructuring, in 1996, Apple’s
CEO Gil Amelio decided to purchase Steve Job’s NeXT computer and software company,
therefore Jobs returned to Apple as senior advisor and interim CEO. In the following decade,
Apple formed partnerships with Microsoft and Intel for the use of software, opened retail
stores, moved to acquisitions with small but innovative high-tech companies and introduced –
amongst others – the highly successful iMac (an advanced version of McIntonsh) and ipod,
which was a sophisticated portable digital audio player offering online music downloads. The
company’s stock price during that period increased almost 10 times and Apple’s industrial
design team – led by the charismatic Jonathan Ivy – was experimenting with iBooks and
tablets. Jobs was instrumental in changing Apple’s business philosophy and once again
employed marketing communications to achieve this goal. Using the slogan “Think
Different” and launching the television commercial known as “The Crazy Ones”, featuring
iconic personalities of the 20th century who pioneered their fields, he reshaped Apple’s brand
image. The marketing campaign, considered as one of the earliest and most successful types
of emotional branding, established Apple in the hearts and minds of millions of consumers as
the epitome of modern innovation, industrial design and entrepreneurship.
In the turn of the century, Apple shifted its focus from personal computers to consumer
electronics. In 2007 Jobs introduced the iphone – the first smartphone designed by Apple –
which was highly successful and it was met with massive enthusiasm by consumers around
the world. iPhone’s success was followed by the iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone 3G, iphone4 –
amongst others – dominating the field of smartphones. Despite Job’s death in 2011 and his
replacement by Tim Cook, Apple has remained the most iconic global brand in consumer
electronics throughout the 21rst century. Heavily investing upon its stores, marketing and
manufacturing, Apple has been considered as the best global brand for the years 2012, 2013,
2014 and 2016 by the branding consultancy company Interbrand. Recently, Apple has
received criticism for lack of innovation and unethical labour as result of aggressive
outsourcing, corrupt business practices and lack of sustainability. Despite the criticism and
since its launch in 1976 at Job’s garage, Apple continues to constitute one of the most
remarkable business examples of effective marketing strategy and innovation.

Assignment Question
Based on the Apple case study, each student has to prepare an individual essay of 2000 words
(-/+ 10%), excluding references, based on ONE of the following topics:
a) B2B, Innovation and Supply Chain Management: Beyond the case study, conduct
independent research on the evolution and contemporary marketing activities of Apple
Company. Please critically discuss how Apple manages its inventory and supply chain
management from a global perspective. What kind of strengths and weaknesses do
you identify in their supply chain management practices? Please provide
recommendations at the end of report on how Apple can innovate so as to improve its
supply chains in the future.
b) Product Innovation and Marketing Strategy: Beyond the case study, conduct
independent research on the evolution and contemporary NPD (new product
development) practices of Apple Company. Please critically discuss how Apple
perceives product innovation and new product development in the 21rst century. What
kind of strengths and weaknesses do you identify in the NPD practices? Please
provide recommendations at the end of report on how Apple can develop more
innovative products which will have a wide appeal to current and potential
c) Branding and Marketing Strategy: Beyond the case study, conduct independent
research on past and contemporary marketing campaigns of the Apple company (the
analysis can include logos, slogans, TV advertisements, digital marketing etc). Please
critically discuss how Apple has been building its brand image over the last 20 years
through strategic marketing communications. What kind of strengths and weaknesses
do you identify in their practices? Please provide recommendations at the end of
report on how Apple can enhance its brand equity and brand awareness especially in
emerging countries and markets.
d) Global Competition and Marketing Strategy: Beyond the case study, conduct
independent research on Apple’s competitors in the field of smartphones and
consumer electronics. Please critically discuss how and from where competition
emerges for Apple company. Choose two of Apple’s key competitors in the global
market and suggest what kind of strengths and weaknesses you identify in their
marketing strategies (pricing, branding, innovation for example). Please provide
recommendations at the end of report on how Apple can face competition and
maintain its competitive advantage in the marketplace for the following 10 years.
 The essay will comprise of an analysis – supported both by academic references and
secondary sources

 The structure for each theme should systematically appear as follows:
1. Introduce Apple’s marketing strategy for the respective field – B2B, Branding, NPD,
Competition – from a generic perspective (approximately 100 words).
2. Critically discuss how Apple manages the activities examined (approximately 1000
words). Support your arguments with online and academic references (please use
valid sources and avoid Wikipedia).
3. Summarize and critically discuss the strengths and opportunities that you identify for
Apple’s activities (approximately 900 words).
4. Provide recommendations on how Apple can respond to these marketing challenges in
the future (approximately 200 words).
Structure your essay with headings and sub-headings based on these arguments and provide a
full list of references (references do not count in the word limitation). Please use the Harvard
referencing style.


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