Apple and the U.S.: It’s emotional

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The emotional connection between Apple and U.S. consumers is stronger than for any other brand, new MBLM Brand Intimacy 2017 research shows.

Can’t live without ‘em

“Apple is our top-ranked brand overall,” the researchers said.

They say the emotional connection between Apple and U.S. consumers is so strong that the Apple brand is one U.S. consumers just can’t live without, based on an online survey across 6,000 people. 

Apple beats Google for “enhancement, ritual, and identity” and is more frequently used in the U.S. than Facebook. Disney and Amazon are the second and third best brands in terms of their emotional connection with consumers.

Mario Natarelli, MBLM’s managing partner said, “We found that escapist brands performed especially well — mostly in the media and entertainment industry — due to the melancholy mood of the past year and the need for distraction, control and enjoyment.”

These findings were reinforced by Brand Keys 2017 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. This shows that consumers think Apple delivers the best experience in every product category it plays in: Notebooks, Apple Music, even headphones with Beats.

Cult of Apple

Apple successfully combines being a world leading computer and technology vendor with its second identity as a service and entertainment media provider.

This discovery of the depth of Apple’s relationship with its customers is not new. Way back in 2011 neuroscientists discovered that Apple and religion light up the same part of the brain. This means the company has somehow become so very important to some folk that it triggers the same feelings and reactions as religions generate in their followers.

What does this mean?

Well, when combined with Apple’s industry leading customer satisfaction levels, it means the company continues to be in a great position to grow its business, despite strong competition.

Yesterday’s CIRP survey confirmed that around 15 percent of new iPhone’s sold went to Android switchers, who continue to migrate to Apple’s platform. There’s a fairly high probability that Apple’s happy and committed customer base helps them switch. Google meanwhile has to use its own search results pages to advertise itself.

A force for good

That’s not to say the semi-religious zeal that surrounds the Apple brand is good for Cupertino alone. Competitors also benefit. For an example of how they benefit consider Samsung’s string of “attack ads,” in which Apple’s big smartphone competitor mocks the company and its loyal fanbase. That’s a great example of how competitors can use Apple’s popularity against it.

The power of the brand also means critics can use it to attract attention to themselves. Why else did analyst Trip Chowdhry issue such a deeply critical AAPL report this week? In all these instances the power of Apple’s brand appeal means even its enemies can profit from it. That the incoming U.S. president has apparently been forced to hand in his famed Twitter teasing Android phone while the outgoing leader used a security modified iPhone may come to mean something.

Complacency kills

Being in possession of powerful brand appeal means a great deal, but Apple cannot afford complacency, and there are signs some of its most loyal customers are becoming impatient, principally when it comes to its plans for the Mac.

All the same, the MBLM brand intimacy report suggests the company has some way to go before it really needs to worry about receding mind share – it remains a brand people “can’t live without.”

Where next?

2017 promises to be a challenging year in many ways. Events may cool the consumer market. This may limit the reach of new Apple product introductions this year, particularly if public attention is focused on other things, but as physical reality becomes more complex, the company may hope that it can create fresh opportunity (and rekindle its relationships with consumers) with new product introductions.

The entire Web expects something momentous from iPhone 8, and every tech critic is chattering about Apple’s plans for AR. What could be more escapist than virtual and augmented worlds from America’s most-loved brand?

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic’s Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

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This article was written by Jonny Evans from Computerworld and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.