Apple's Warning Was Not A Surprise: A Great Brand Alone Is Not Enough

It finally happened.

Apple, one of the world’s most valuable brands and companies, warned of a revenue shortfall in the wake of the holiday 2018 season. This leader among innovators, the legacy of Steve Jobs, demonstrated that a great brand and great products – without a true customer focus – are not enough.

We love our MacBooks, iPhones, iPads, AirPods, and Apple Watches. But the Apple customer experience beyond the product itself is nothing special. For a long time, it didn’t have to be. Samsung and others have challenged Apple’s product leadership. But Apple has consistently won based on product design and innovation, retail strategy and branding. It’s unabashed and insular focus on product – and a great product user experience – has allowed the company to succeed without investing in or offering a differentiated customer experience.

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I am a consumer and a business owner with dozens of Apple products at work and home, and Apple has no clue as to my value. This is a clear choice by Apple, as it has the data. To Tim Cook’s credit, it doesn’t sell to or share with third parties. But the company doesn’t seem to use its customer data internally either.  

Loyalty marketing means paying attention to customers and acting accordingly. Apple is a long way from being a loyalty leader, much less a “loyalty company,” as Emily Collins suggests, and we support. Until the brand starts treating its hundreds of millions of customers around the world like it cares about them – and is loyal to them – Apple’s growth will stagnate or decline.