Apple has always been an excellent example of marketing done right. From shiny Apple stores to commercials that connect with consumers, the Apple marketing team is used as an example in business schools across the world. However, Apple’s marketing plans seem to have taken a turn off course lately. Whether or not this new direction is good or bad has yet to be seen, but there is a pattern developing here that will be interesting to watch.
Just a few weeks ago, Target announced that some select stores would begin carrying MacBooks and other Apple products (set up as small Apple stores inside of Target stores). Now, Apple seems to have made a deal with Target’s competitor: Walmart. Word on the tech street is that Sam’s Club (owned by Walmart) will begin selling a number of Apple products (not just iPods and iPads). Is this a good move for Apple? Or, is Apple taking a giant risk at watering down the popular brand?
A Big Brand Risk
When speaking of watering down a brand, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts’ Canadian adventure comes to mind. Krispy Kreme started off in Canada on a strong note. People flocked to Krispy Kreme locations, bought the delicious doughnuts, and loved every minute of Krispy Kreme goodness – the company even had a great in-store marketing scheme happening by giving away a free doughnut to every consumer. Then, something happened. Krispy Kreme doughnuts were suddenly sold in gas stations and in grocery stores. Consumer who had become used to fresh and soft doughnuts were suddenly sold day-old stale delights.
As a result of selling doughnuts in non-Krispy Kreme locations, consumers started to hate the brand. After all, who wants to purchase day-old doughnuts that just aren’t great? In addition, new Krispy Kreme consumers took a first bite of a doughnut that wasn’t good. What happened? Many Krispy Kreme locations closed, and now the brand has all but disappeared. It’s easy to compare the two brands from a marketing perspective, but, of course, Apple isn’t selling a stale food product, so this analogy might not fully apply. Then again, one has to ask: is Apple taking a Krispy Kreme risk?
On the flip side, Apple might be able to entice consumer who have never picked up or played with an Apple device before. Seemingly, the products that Sam’s Club will be selling will also have to be offered at a discounted price, since this is what Sam’s Club members expect to see, but no word on pricing has been offered up yet. There’s no doubt that Apple is taking a risk by opening up shop inside of Target and Sam’s Club stores. Is this a risk that will pay off for the brand or is it a mistake?
There’s no word yet on whether or not Sam’s Club will start selling Apple products in-store within the next few months. Target will begin setting up Apple kiosks inside of select Target stores shortly, and it will be interesting to see whether or not Sam’s Club follows suit. What do you think? Is Apple spreading its brand too thin?