Apple, Inc. is one of the most powerful tech companies in the world. It has grown to be a powerhouse pushing the envelope, raising the bar, and bringing innovation to the market. As of 2019, the essential statistics on Apple include: (1) ever since its launch in 2007, Apple has sold over 1.3 billion iPhones; (2) In the last 18 years, Apple’s stock price has grown by 15,000%, which makes the company worth $1 trillion; (3) Apple sells 18% of smartphones globally and makes 87% of smartphone profits (“12 Apple statistics,” 2018). It should be noted that over the last two decades, Apple has expanded its presence across the globe. The corporation is present on each of the five continents and operates officially in 25 countries worldwide (Statista, 2019). Apple’s products and services are available in more than 500 stores (Statista, 2019). The logical question arises as to what allowed and helped the US-based company to go beyond its domestic markets and win over customers around the world.
One feature that stands out about Apple’s international marketing strategy is its standardization. The decades-long debate around standardization vs. localization has so far been making more of a case for the latter. Yet, Apple is taking a direction that others might have found somewhat counterintuitive: it maintains a consistent brand across cultures. It is important to note here that the success of product standardization might be attributed to the nature of the product itself. The challenges that a tech company faces in foreign markets are not exactly comparable to those experienced by restaurant chains. Food habits are something that is ingrained into customers’ mindset and personality since childhood. Tech and gadgets, on the other hand, might not bear that much of a cultural message. At this point, they become objects that communicate status. To make it possible or even more prominent, Apple ensures that the brand identity is recognizable.
At the same time, it would be wrong to say that Apple’s international strategy hinges solely on standardization. The US-based company’s localization efforts might not be as obvious, but they contribute to the company’s success overseas. Khan, Alam, and Alam (2015) show that Apple designs its stores to appeal to its customers in particular countries and regions. Namely, the company takes into consideration the pace of life, how much time customers prefer to spend at the stores, and what level of accessibility they require (Khan et al., 2015). Khan et al. (2015) compare Apple’s successful case to the failure that was Walmart’s expansion into Germany. The American retail giant ignored the fact that Germans might not be as eager to wander around the store for extended periods of time as their American counterparts do. As a result, people were dissatisfied with low accessibility and maze-like designs and arrangements. It seems that Apple truly takes customers’ needs and preferences seriously. As it turns out, for each country, the company has developed its own customer support protocol that takes into consideration cultural patterns of communication. By doing that, Apple reinforces loyalty and attachment in its clients.
Overall, Apple’s efforts to localize its production are subtle but powerful. It is true that the US company does not have viral advertisements or social media campaigns that would target specific regions. However, upon closer investigation, one may discover that Apple shows its considerations through transforming software features and improving customer care quality (Roudometof, 2016). For instance, the corporation’s official website provides guidance in different languages so that no customers are left behind. Another compelling example is the functionality of the Apple-owned software GarageBand that allows users to create their own musical pieces. Not only do Chinese customers get to enjoy the interface and support in their native language, but they can also use ethnic instruments in their creative process.
The last but not the least feature to be mentioned is Apple’s respect for and commitment to transcreation. As it has already been mentioned, the tech giant strives for standardization across the board, and on top of that, it seeks to appease local tastes. Probably, an example that best reflects Apple’s international strategy is its approach to translation. Each of the site versions is handled by local professionals, making sure that the written content is readable, engaging, and helpful. In summation, it is safe to say that Apple’s key strategy can be summarized as “one size fits all,” which does not, however, rule out some localization initiatives.
12 Apple statistics marketers should know in 2018. (2018). Web.
Khan, U. A., Alam, M. N., & Alam, S. (2015). A critical analysis of internal and external environment of Apple Inc. International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management, 3(6), 955-961.
Roudometof, V. (2016). Glocalization: A critical introduction. Abingdon-on-Thames, UK: Routledge.
Statista. (2019). Apple – Statistics & facts. Web.