The “Wall Street Journal” recently featured an article on the nature of Apple’s technology brand. The article cited General Electric’s decision to re-vamp its image and appear more progressive and fresh by switching from nondescript PC computer systems to all Apple products.
This implicit claim that Apple product ownership bookmarks and attracts a younger crowd made me pause to consider Apple’s branding strategy and success. The creation of a marketable identity is not new, nor is it particular to a certain generation. Branding serves to give distinction to a particular product and help persuade its intended audience to become customers. While this discipline spans the broad scope of commercialism, branding geared toward younger consumers is particularly aggressive, and also the most effective.
There is an intricate correlation between the aggressiveness and efficacy of a marketing scheme and the youth of a loyal consumer base. More than any other age bracket, consumers between 15 and 35 are easily convinced by branding strategy. Consumers in this group often purchase items simply because they feel a deep loyalty to a brand, rather than a true need for the product.
One of the best examples of this phenomenon is the overwhelming success of Apple as a result of its ability to attract and maintain the devotion of young consumers. The company created a niche market for itself by developing a new computer operating system; it created a distinct logo and sleek marketing campaign, a concise product menu, and a decades-long plan for continuing to build its consumer base while still maintaining its initial core group of fans. (Notice how a new iPhone enters the market every summer?) In short, Apple has succeeded at branding itself as the most progressive and up-to-date technology company, which is irresistible to consumers in high school, college and early careers.
And so, aware of Apple’s reputation, General Electric decided to make the switch from the simple computation functions of PCs to the much-more-than-practical world of Apple products. Only time will tell whether or not GE’s strategy will actually improve its outdated image. Regardless of their success or failure, though, the fact that GE turned to Apple to refresh its image and regain the attention of younger, more forward-thinking consumers proves two facts: one, that the younger generations are more inclined to succumb to brand psychology, and two, that Apple has earned for itself the majority of that captive audience – so much so that other technology companies are clamoring just for a piece of the pie.