Microsoft and Apple have been rivals in personal computing systems for decades. As a result of this rivalry for dominance over the technological industry, the consumer market has seen huge developments and advancements in this industry. When it comes to licensing agreements, such as Windows OS and Microsoft Productivity Suites, Microsoft is king. However, Apple comes out on top with their more creative community. Among corporations, business professionals, and IT personnel, Microsoft is the leading brand due to their affordability, performance expectations, and overall brand acceptance. While both brands have their own strengths and weaknesses, consumer preference varies on many different factors such as age, career, hobbies, etc. Market leaders are the strongest brands with the largest market shares in their product categories, and they often have a large segment of loyal consumers and a great deal of power in the channel of distribution (Kardes, Cronley, & Cline, 2012). Over the years these companies have gone back and forth between who is the top dog and who is the underdog. However, once Apple released their series of “I” products, Apple was able to gain the upper hand and became the top dog in this industry.
What is the brand strategy being used by the top dog? What is the brand strategy being used by the underdog?
Apple’s brand strategy primarily involves targeting the younger audiences, and continuously introducing new technologies. Apple’s branding focuses on consumer emotions, with their starting point being how an Apple product experience makes the consumer feel (Marketing Minds). Apple is also about simplicity and the removal of complexity from consumer’s lives (Marketing Minds). The company placed a huge emphasis on the fact that their products are “consumption” devices. Apple’s core competence remains delivering exceptional customer experience through superb user interfaces, and has even based their product strategy around this (Marketing Minds). Now the company is defining itself more broadly than a “devices company,” by incorporating their digital content services to be a key part of the value proposition to Apple device owners (Marketing Minds).
Microsoft’s brand strategy is primarily centralized around the belief that everyone needs tools for a wide range of productivity tasks. The essence of the Microsoft brand is “Empowering people and organizations to achieve more,” which is also reflected in their values of focusing on innovation, achievement, and empowerment (Bhasin, 2016). Microsoft is seeking to make the lives of people around the globe convenient, comfortable, and advanced through their various offerings in personal computers, consumer electronics, and computer software (Bhasin, 2016). Microsoft utilizes a mix of demographic and behavioral segmentation strategies in order to market in groups with similar characteristics. Since productivity is where Microsoft excels, it makes sense that the brand is focused on creating productivity-focused products. This also explains why Microsoft has been focused on the 2-in-1 concept, where the product is a computer when you need it and tablet when you want it.
How can the underdog improve its strategy so that it can gain more market share and surpass the top dog?
The personal computing technology industry is highly competitive, which makes it all the more crucial for Microsoft to increase their market share and surpass Apple. In order for underdogs to remain successful they need to do the opposite of market leaders. It is essential for underdogs to successfully disrupt the status quo and increase ambiguity in the marketplace (Kardes et al., 2012).
One way that Microsoft could gain more market share would be to target their products to the younger generation. Since this is the generation who utilizes these computing technologies the most, Microsoft needs to focus on targeting this consumer group if they are to gain more market share over Apple. Another way Microsoft can disrupt the status quo would be to have consumers participate in a “taste test” where they can evaluate and compare their new products with the market leader’s products. This can allow Microsoft to challenge the beliefs of Apple consumers, and hopefully switch to Microsoft products.
Why do you believe consumers prefer the top dog over the underdog? Which do you prefer, and why?
I believe consumers prefer Apple over Microsoft because Apple markets their products as “consumption” devices, whereas Microsoft focuses on “productivity.” Another reason why consumers prefer Apple products of Microsoft products is because Apple appeals to consumer lifestyles more, and gets consumers excited about newer technologies. Overall, each company has areas where they succeed over the other, and work to gain ground in other areas of expertise.
When it comes to computers, I prefer Microsoft over Apple, however, my smartphone is an iPhone. I do not think I will ever become a full Microsoft user or a full Apple user, because there are aspects of both brands that I prefer over the other. For instance, when it comes to computers I enjoy the huge selection of PCs that are available, and allows me to customize my ideal laptop each time I need to purchase a new one. PCs are also much cheaper compared to Apple computers, and PCs also allow for easy upgrades. Not to mention the fact that most businesses utilize Microsoft products for computing, this makes it more practical to learn the ins and outs of the Microsoft products. On the other hand, when it comes to smartphones I prefer Apple over Microsoft’s version. However, the main reason for this is because Apple products are generally more secure than Microsoft products. Although, as Apple becomes more popular this will most likely change as cyber criminals discover new ways to hack Apple products. The other reason why I have an iPhone is because all my music has been purchased through Apple.
Bhasin, H. (August 30, 2016). Marketing Strategy of Microsoft – Microsoft Strategy. Retrieved June 11, 2017, from http://www.marketing91.com/marketing-strategy-of-microsoft/
Kardes, F. R., Cronley, M. L., & Cline, T. W. (2012). Branding Strategy and Consumer Behavior. Consumer Behavior (2nd ed.). Retrieved from https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781305161689/cfi/92!/4/2@100:0.00
Marketing Minds. (n.d.). Apple’s Branding Strategy. Retrieved June 11, 2017, from http://www.marketingminds.com.au/apple_branding_strategy.html
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