in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Hello AppleInsider community,

I am a Senior majoring in Business, Marketing, and Accounting at a college in Illinois. After completing a semester paper for my Consumer Behavior class, I felt it apt to post it here, at the hub of anything Apple.

My paper titled "iProfile", is a consumer profile of the Apple iPod. First, the paper reveals the sybiotic relationship between the music industry and the mp3 industry. Then, profiles the typical iPod consumer, by delving into how Apple brings in those consumers with its advertisements. Finally, suggestions are made to how Apple could improve upon its formula in television advertisements.

Please enjoy, and reply with feedback and thoughts.


By Eric E. Kidwell[/CENTER]
Music has been apart of human existence ever since the dawn of man. In recent history, music has been packaged and sold to consumers around the world. But now, more than ever, there are more people purchasing music. According to Bridge Ratings, in the United States alone, there are 50 million more music buyers today than there were in 1980, and music sales in the United States amounted to 11.5 billion dollars in 2006 (Bridge Ratings, 2007). Music has been shared in so many ways, such as recorded and listened to on the record, radio, atrac, tape, compact disc, DVD, and finally to the mp3 player. One company product, however, has emerged from the pack of mp3 players ever since its debut in 2001: the Apple iPod.
The relationship between music and its? medium of the time has been and continues to be a symbiotic one. Katie Marsal, in the AppleInsider, says that the iPod is reported at commanding with over 90% of the market for hard drive-based players and over 70% of the market for all types of players (Marsal, 2006). Natural monopolies, like the one in iPod?s case, do not happen very often. However, as Roussos (2007) reported 110 million units of iPod sold at Apple?s ?The Beat Goes On? event in September of 2007, did not happen by accident, but came about through wise marketing. One of the best parts of Apple?s thoughtful marketing strategy was the way that it advertised to a target consumer profile by coupling it?s advertisements with carefully picked music.
Ask the question of what is the number one reason why consumers purchase the iPod, and you will find that the answer is, of course, to listen to music. As the iPod seems to be the current medium of choice for music, it is easy to see that the best market to advertise to for the iPod can be found by observing who is purchasing the most music. Thus, the typical person that would be more likely to purchase an iPod is an affluent male or female in the ages from twelve to thirty-four. Music labels agree that teenagers and young adults are their primary customer, thus a technically inclined population of youngsters would most likely grab for the iPod for a number of reasons. Also, according to research done by Arbitron and Edison Media Research, the age groups that have a greater likelihood of owning an iPod or other portable mp3 players is the twelve through seventeen, eighteen through twenty-four, and twenty-five through thirty-four age groups. The ownership of an iPod becomes a downward trend as older consumers are far less likely to own an iPod than a younger consumer, with two percent and twenty-seven percent, respectively (2005). According to research done by ICM, saying that thirty-three percent of teenagers in United Kingdom know the price of an iPod, but only seventy-five percent do not have a clue about the price of milk (Ranger, 2005). The characteristics that might accompany the iPod consumer are that he or she is a person who has enough money to purchase this decent size ticket item, and one that lives a digital savvy lifestyle. According to a survey done by Pew Internet and American Life Project, research directors Rainie and Madden stated that those who use the internet are for times as likely as non-internet users to have iPods. This internet usage trend also shows up among twenty-three percent of broadband users who own an iPod, compared to nine percent of dial-up internet users who own an iPod (2005).
The adults that are among the pod people of America are highly educated professionals that like to use technology to create in some way. Peter Graber classifies these types of professionals as the America?s Creative Class, as they use technology to achieve their goals, as well as to make life easier (2005). These professionals can be computer programmers, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and scientists because these types of jobs require producing, applying, and distributing knowledge. The typical consumer of Apple?s mp3 player could be classified by John Howkins, ?The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas?, in which he classifies creatives as working in such segments as advertising, architecture, design, fashion, music, performing arts, publishing, and video games (2002). These are exactly the type of people that Apple targets to buy the iPod because they usually go on to purchase other items from the Apple line up. According to an article titled ?Podtastic? in the Economist magazine, surveys suggest that some ten to twenty percent of personal computer users, who buy an iPod, turn around and decide to switch company brands and buy a Mac (2006). Even recent surveys are showing that Apple?s iPod has been effectively baiting consumers to buy into the Apple brand as P. Seitz cites ChangeWave Research as affirming that twenty-nine percent of those polled were planning on purchasing a Mac in the next ninety days. That is higher than the percentages of twenty-one for HP laptops, twenty-four for HP desktops, and twenty-eight for Dell?s laptops (2007). It was only two years ago that the percentage of potential Apple consumers was at eleven to sixteen percent to purchase a laptop or desktop Mac computers. Clearly, the astronomical sales of the Apple iPod is resulting what analysts claim as the ?halo effect?.
Apple may have its? foot in the door to position itself as a stronger competitor in the technology industry, but the pet project and fuel to the momentum of this company has come about through genius marketing of the iPod. The marketing team of the iPod must have done its? research and found that the people that would be most likely to buy the stylish mp3 player would be the people that are most likely to buy music ? the teenagers and young adults of America. According to Michael R. Solomon (2007) market segmentation is the means of making producing a brand that targets only specific groups of consumers rather than every person. Apparently, that is why Apple decided to launch iTunes to accompany the whole experience of the iPod as a cherry on top. It is almost obvious that iPod should be complemented by iTunes, as the people that purchase this mp3 player did so for the primary purpose of listening to music. The reality is that Apple actually loses money on its sales from the iTunes store, but it does wonders for selling more iPods. Ina Fried (2003), of CNET News.com, quoted Apple Senior Vice President, Phil Schiller saying ?The iPod makes money. The iTunes Music Store doesn?t.? Even though some analysts claim that the costs could well exceed the ninety-nine cents for each song that Apple gets, Apple Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson said that iTunes music store could be a ?trojan horse? for getting more people to buy iPods. Solomon (2007) states that brands often have personalities that are brought to recognition to the potential customer by the advertising, branding, and packaging that ad to the whole experience of the item. Thus, iTunes is an integral part of the business model and marketing scheme of iPod as it is a part of the packaging of the holistic experience.
There is no doubt, that Apple has strong brand equity as its symbol is one of the most recognizable logos on the planet. Angela Orend-Cunningham mentioned in the New York Times that a common strategy that today?s corporate world implements is identity marketing, where the goal is to get the consumer alter aspects of themselves to advertise for a product that is branded (2002). By achieving such goals, companies can have products within their line ups that are considered cult products, and according to Solomon (2007), that is what classifies Apple?s products. A product that has a cult following is one in which the consumers act in an attitude of devotion and loyalty, according to Robert W. Pimentel and Kristy E. Reynolds (2004). In order to attain such loyalty from customers, Apple had to have done something in order to bring these customers in to purchase the iPod, and they did, with advertising.
Recently, it has been noted that the Apple Corporation?s advertising for the iPod is both clever and innovative. If one takes a closer look, though, it becomes clear that the thought and time put into Apple advertisements goes beyond simply being clever and innovative, but rather, it is part of a larger, clear, concise and targeted message. All of the advertisements also have the common thread of being very minimalistic, and can be described as not being visually polluted. The most popular television and print ads features dark silhouetted figures cast against bright-colored backgrounds. The print ads have been seen on buses, on the sides of buildings, or on billboards and showcase a silhouette figure in a dance poise while the iPod is the contrasting white focal point of the image. The music in the television ads for the iPod has always had an upbeat tune that the silhouettes are dancing to while holding iPods and earbuds. With the rhythmic and flavorful music in the background, the images follow suit by moving with the music.
It has been asserted that the demographics that classify the main purchasers of music, teenagers and young adults, is the same that iPod commercials should target, thus one of the main elements that all of the Apple iPod commercials have in common is energetic music. However, as some of Apple?s television ads seem to be neutral as to what group of music fans that it targets, there are some that concisely target a specific group of people. For example, if one were to look at all of the songs from each of the iPod commercials, one would find that there are a lot of different genres of music that accompany the dancing figures. As the main music genre is rock in most of first generation of iPod commercials, where there is one solid, bright-colored background, recent advertisements have switched it up and have used other genres such as ?Mi Swing Es Tropical?, which is a song that has a tropical island feel to it. These recent ads have changed up the solid color background as well, by having a more technicolor and tie dye type of color swatches. Another important difference in the recent iPod ads is that it no longer says just iPod at the end, but it says iPod + iTunes, which noticeably reveals that Apple has discovered the powerful relationship between the two entities. iPod?s newest ad features Mary J. Blige singing ?Work That?, an artist and song that can clearly be identified with those who are into R&B and Hip Hop type music. Other iPod ads seem to target older generations by featuring Paul McCartney singing ?Dance Tonight?, but still he is a figure that can be identified with young adults.
The strategies in Apple commercials are aimed at getting people to identify themselves with the iPod. By putting a variety of featured artists in the different commercials, iPod can command more of a referent power, as Solomon (2007) maintains is the qualities of a person or group that people try to imitate by copying that referents behavior, such as clothing and accessories. Since a lot of people can identify with various artists such as Paul McCartney, Mary J. Blige, and U2, of whom have shown up in iPod commercials, people can imitate these figureheads and feel closer to them by purchasing and wearing iPods in a sometimes unconscious effort to represent that desired image. It is harder to pinpoint, then, which fans of a specific music subcategory are buying the most iPods as Apple has diversified their commercials with distinctive imitated celebrities that personify ?cool?.
There are some aspects of the Apple promotion that could be improved upon. The formula of the look and upbeat songs should stay the same, but what Apple should push more often is featuring artists that are the legends of today in their specific music genre. Instead of putting mere upbeat songs from artists that no one has heard of, Apple can do more to team up with legendary artists that are coming out with new albums. This idea cuts down on the cost of advertisement as the record label publishing the artists music share the costs. The implementation of this concept is quite easy as Apple need only to monitor which artists have sold the most albums in the past, and then keep in contact with that artist?s label to partner in advertising it with the iPod + iTunes commercials. Choosing Mary J. Blige in recent commercials is a step in the right direction, but this should be happening more frequently with various artists in order to expand the brand to a broader consumer profile. Such artists of different genres come to mind such as Rascal Flatts, who not only appeal to country music listeners, but attract people who even claim that they hate country and still love the songs that this band plays. Other music artists that Apple could consider if the potential artist ever made another single or album could be artists like Elton John, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Green Day, and Dr. Dre. Also, an artist that would be very successful in helping Apple target teenagers that like hip-hop and funk is Outkast.
The horizon for the Apple iPod is mostly positive, but with competitors like Microsoft creating Zune, the battle could get ugly in the digital music industry. Also, with companies scurrying to make the ?iPod 2.0? by improving battery life, innovating the design, and adding features like FM radio, one thing that each competing company cannot take away from the Apple iPod is the fact that there can only be one iPod. The Apple iPod brand is its most valuable asset, and is forecasted to continue to provide record sales figures for the Apple Corporation for years to come.
[CENTER]Works Cited[/CENTER]

Bridge Ratings (2007). ?U.S. Music Consumption: How Many Are Buying and Who?s Listening?. Retrieved December 6, 2007, from Bridge Ratings web site: http://www.bridgeratings.com/press_0...onsumption.htm

Fried, I. (2003). ?Will iTunes make Apple Shine?? Retrieved December 10, 2007, from the CNET News.com web site: http://www.news.com/2100-1041-5092559.html

Graber, P. (2005). ?Who are Apple?s New Customers??. Retreived December 7, 2007, from the Grabers Modern Marketing Communications web site: http://www.grabers.com/library/imc/a...ting/index.php

Howkins, J. (2002). The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas. London: Penguin Global.

?Internet and Multimedia 2005: The On-Demand Media Consumer?. (2005) Retreived from the Arbitron and Edison Media Research web site: http://www.arbitron.com/downloads/IM2005Pres.pdf

Marsal, K. (2006). ?iPod: How Big Can it Get?? Retrieved December 6, 2007, from AppleInsider web site: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...an_it_get.html

Orend-Cunningham, A. (2003). ?Corporate Logo Tattoos: Literal Corporate Branding?? American Sociological Association, 5(1).

Pimentel, R. W. and Reynolds, K. E. (2004) ?A Model for Consumer Devotion:

Affective Commitment with Proactive Sustaining Behaviors? Retrieved December 10, 2007, from the Academy of Marketing Science Review web site: http://www.amsreview.org/articles/pimentel05-2004.pdf.

?Podtastic?. (2006, January). Economist, 378(8460), 64-64, 1/2p.

Ranger, S. (2005). ?Broadband Users Most Likely to be Mp3 fans, Finds Survey?. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from Vnunet.com web site: http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/21...wnership-soars

Roussos, Alexandros (2007). "The Beat Goes On" Special Event. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from web site: http://www.macscoop.com/articles/200...uously-updated

Seitz, P. (2007). ?Apple Macintosh Computers Likely to Gain Market Share.? Retrieved December 10, 2007, from the Yahoo! Finance News web site: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ibd/20071207...d/20071207tech

Solomon, M. R. (2007). Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc.


  • Reply 1 of 3
    Just to update the community, I received an A on this term paper.
  • Reply 2 of 3
    irelandireland Posts: 17,759member
    I live in Ireland. When I bought my first iPod I had never seen an Apple advertisement. Not a one. Just sayin'
  • Reply 3 of 3
    I bought the first Generation iPod, before any ads had ever been aired. It was all about the music.

    By the way you need a better proofreader. There are a number of errors in your paper... did you professor at least mark them for you?

    For a senior in college, frankly, I'd expect a flawless paper. Doesn't give me much more confidence in the American education system than I already had.
Sign In or Register to comment.