3 Lessons from Apple for Africa’s growing Retail Brands

So Apple has become the first company in the US to hit a market capitalization of 1 trillion dollars. To put this in perspective; There are only 15 economies in the world that have comparable revenues, and none of them is in Africa.

Before you yawn and dismiss this blog as “Of course that’s Apple, We are Africa….,” Consider that Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy a short two decades back;  that’s something every retailer on any continent can relate to.

Retail comes with many challenges including thin margins, changing trends, digital disruptions and  hyper-informed consumers. If anything the tech retail sector is the gold standard in retail volatility. What then has Apple done right? And what insights can retailers “copy” “paste” and “refine” on for Africa’s market place?

In the first quarter of 2018, Apple was on track to be one of the world’s biggest spenders on research, with an impressive spend of 10billion dollars. Few retailers on the continent can even claim to have a budget line on R&D let alone spend thousands of dollars on research. However consider the following fundamentals that drive Apple’s tech and how using the simplest of research practices to inform these basics can help deliver stunning retail revenues as is the case with I-phones.

Create Products that people Actually Want

You would think this would be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many times manufacturers come up with things “they think” people may want or worse, things driven by their need to use their technology, skill or knowledge. While Apple’s Founder Steve Jobs was known to think unfavorably about market research, it must be understood that this by no means meant that Apple does not invest in research. It was a contextual reference to an over simplified definition of market research to refer to Focus Group Discussions informing product design.

Apple Does in-fact invest in ethnographies and surveys to understand what their consumers are using technology for and what is driving its product sales. These insights allow the brand to innovate and perfect on what it is getting right with consumers thereby growing its consumer love and loyalty to epic revenue proportions.

Keep Things Simple & User friendly

Apple’s success has been largely hinged on the IPhone. It’s interesting to see that whereas other smart phone brands have continuously innovated on their brands and come up with many different phones to adapt to new technologies and changing consumer tastes, Apple has carefully cultivated this one smartphone into a luxury brand icon.

Of what benefit is this to consumers? It makes it easy for them to decide what they want to buy. Instead of bombarding them with all kinds of tech and spec details that mean little for the Average Joe, the IPhone simply presents itself as the leading luxury brand in smartphone market. Brand ideation may be partially achieved by consumer perception but it is solidly built and sustained by the science of understanding the market and customizing your brand strategy accordingly.

Great Customer Service & In Store Experiences

Speaking of Apple’s retail success cannot be complete without mentioning the phenomenal in-store experiences customers enjoy. One of the signature things about walking into an Apple Store is how they greet customers? “What would you Like to Do today?”  It’s a very subtle shift that moves the consumer away from the tech conversation to the user experience engagement.

One of the ingredients that makes for profitable retail is understanding your retail offering through the eyes of your customer and making the customer journey as memorable as possible. Delivering an excellent in-store experience that works for consumers and not just for products helps customers easily make the connection with your brand and develop that invaluable, intangible asset called Customer Loyalty.

 

 

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