This time last year, Apple launched a new operating system that had numerous technical problems, as well as a mapping app that was so inaccurate that it became the target of many jokes.
Fast forward to this year and, once again, Apple’s recent product launches (including 2 models of iPhone 6, the Apple Watch and Apple Pay) have been followed by criticism and jokes. Many jokes. Not even the gifting of U2’s album to iTunes users escaped:
Ah, Apple, Apple. What happened to you?* #PoorApple.
Can anything be done about this negative opinion?
Research conducted by Muthukrishnan and Chattopadhyay** (here, but paid access only) shows that comparing the brand with other options (for instance, saying product A is faster than product B) is not a very effective way of reversing consumers’ negative opinions, even if the comparison is favourable and it’s made by a trusted third party. This is because making explicit comparisons about some attributes makes buyers question performance across the other attributes not included in the comparison (for instance: yes, A may be faster than B, but B has more accessories / lasts longer / etc than A). Instead, to revert negative impressions, marketers should avoid comparisons with their competitors.
The problem with Apple, at the moment, is that they can not avoid comparisons: the iPhone has been compared with Samsung phones, the Apple Watch with Sony’s SmartWatch3, and so on.
To break this cycle, Apple really needs to change direction – just like when it changed the focus from laptops to mobile devices (first the iPod, then the iPhone). Like McDonalds is doing with food sourcing, or Google with self-driving cars. Better still would be for Apple to connect at an emotional level, as Coca-cola has done with the Share a Coke campaign.
What do you think? Can Apple turn the negative opinion tide, and go from #PoorApple to #AppleWin?
* For me the tipping point was how Apple reacted to the iPhone 4’s signal problem (i.e., blaming the users for holding the phone on their left hands). Oh, and iWeb, whose users were completely abandoned by Apple (Can you feel the bitterness?). And the appalling working conditions in the components’ factories in China. The sky-high prices. The copyright fight with Samsung…
** Muthukrishnan, A.V. and Chattopadhyay, A. (2007). Just Give Me Another Chance: The Strategies for Brand Recovery from a Bad First Impression. Journal of Marketing Research: May 2007, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 334-345