Apple stores are summer camps

Just had to go into the Apple store for something (Mac people always need something when they are passing an Apple store).  While I was in there I noticed a LOT of kids.  I then noticed a mom I knew who had four of those kids in tow.  She freely admitted that going to the Apple store for an afternoon was her form of summer camp.  The kids were effectively allowed to play with all the iPhones, iPads, iPods, iMacs and anything else beginning with ‘i’.  They weren’t allowed to buy anything of course.  The staff at the store seemed quite happy to be hosting all the kids.  Perhaps Apple could start selling summer camp T-shirts, or rather iShirts.

PS – turns out Apple does offer free summer camps to kids, where they get to learn how to make movies.  It also turns out my wife signed up two of kids to do it…  details: http://www.apple.com/retail/camp/

PPS – in case you are wondering the Apple store is still sold out of iPhone 4s.  Seems Antennagate isn’t harming business.


Is brand loyalty real?

It’s every marketing chief’s goal: brand loyalty.  Achieve this and you have a revenue stream for life, even if your next product isn’t quite as good as your last.  Some brands achieve this status for periods of time but few can sustain it over more than a few years.  Apple has it right now, Ford used to to have it, Coke has had it for decades.  It’s arguable that Coke has been able to maintain such loyalty because it hasn’t really had to change its core product.  They tried to and it almost cost them that loyalty.  Instead, they’ve tinkered with the packaging and played around with the distribution.  Outside the food and drink category, it’s hard to find products that have endured and brands that maintain loyalty.  This is because innovation constantly threatens brand loyalty.  But does it?

While watching the world cup, you couldn’t help but notice the immense pride people have in their nations.  The painted faces and died hair, the regrettable tattoos and the silly costumes all demonstrate a level of national loyalty most brands can only dream of.  Indeed, I can’t think of a brand that has ever manged to get thousands of people to dress up, paint their face etc without being paid to do it.  In short, we show unwavering support for our nations and are prepared to even die for them (well some are) even though they have given us little more than a birth certificate, passport and a tax bill.  Indeed it would seem that national loyalty is real loyalty. It isn’t paid for by the nation, it is simply given by its citizens.  If this is real loyalty, then what is brand loyalty?  Brand loyalty it would seem is just a current infatuation.  It is a kind of love affair that in most cases ends with all the inevitability of a high school romance.  Looked at it in this way, brand loyalty becomes a very different challenge.  To keep a love affair going is very different to simply maintaining a relationship.  Love affairs are all about passion and romance. They require you to constantly think of the other person, to be creative and spontaneous.  So next time you are in a meeting and the conversation turns to brand loyalty, be sure to show your passionate side.  It may well spark a really good conversation.