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ABSTRACT
The intention of this paper has been to investigate why certain products become cultural icons. The discussion is delimited to consumer products of technical character with a strong relation to contemporary culture. To reach our objective we have conducted a case study in the form of a cultural marketing analysis of Apple’s iPod, by studying its cultural meaning for consumers and the factors behind its immense popularity. Among the success factors identified is Apple’s strong brand image of creativity, innovation and imagination, which has been well transferred to the iPod. It was the community of Mac users that created the initial hype around the iPod, but through a deep connection to contemporary popular culture, the iPod community has expanded with new groups not before targeted by Apple. The iPod community broadly exhibits traits of a brand community, which increases perceived quality, brand loyalty, brand awareness and brand associations. Through advertising and design, Apple has successfully implemented the three levels of emotional design into the iPod: The aesthetics of the iPod, characterized by simplicity, provides an example of a visceral design, formed according to values inherent in us as biological beings. The visceral design also comes out in the advertising where the all-white iPod stands out as a naturally beautiful object. In addition, the advertising works at the reflective design level, and connects the iPod with the concepts of energy, joy, style, and youth culture. Moreover, the iPod’s high usability is consistent with the concept of behavioural design. The identity of the iPod, as created by the producers, has been well mediated to consumers. However, this identity is multifaceted and provides interpretive flexibility, which has contributed to its success. The iPod has acquired a market position with wider connotations than being ‘just’ an mp3-player. It has also established a close connection with pop-cultural trends and become a symbol for new consumption patterns of music in modern society.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
1
1.1 1.2 1.3

INTRODUCTION .................................................................6
Problem .......................................................................................................................................... 6 Purpose .......................................................................................................................................... 6 Demarcations................................................................................................................................. 7

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2.1 2.2 2.3 2.3.1 2.3.2 2.3.3

METHOD .............................................................................8
Case Study ..................................................................................................................................... 8 Cultural Marketing Analysis ........................................................................................................ 8 Overview......................................................................................................................................... 8 Theory......................................................................................................................................................... 8 Empirics...................................................................................................................................................... 8 Analysis ...................................................................................................................................................... 9

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3.1 3.2

BACKGROUND ................................................................10
Apple ............................................................................................................................................. 10 iPod ............................................................................................................................................... 11

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4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9

THEORY............................................................................13
Holt: What becomes an Icon Most? ......................................................................................... 13 Muniz & O’Guinn: Brand Community....................................................................................... 13 Norman: Emotional Design........................................................................................................ 14 Du Gay et al.: Cultural meaning ................................................................................................ 14 The Frankfurt School: Production of consumption ............................................................... 15 Baudrillard: Identity value.......................................................................................................... 15 Slater: Needs, identity and status............................................................................................. 15 Maslow: The hierarchy of needs............................................................................................... 16 Willis and Hebdige: The Construction of Meaning ............................................................... 16

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5.1

EMPIRICS .........................................................................17
Focus group of iPod users ........................................................................................................ 17

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ANALYSIS ........................................................................19
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6.1 6.1.1 6.1.2 6.1.3 6.1.4 6.2 6.2.1 6.2.2 6.2.3 6.3 6.3.1 6.3.2 6.3.3 6.3.4 6.3.5 6.3.6 6.3.7 6.3.8

The Apple brand .......................................................................................................................... 19 Aspects of the Apple Brand ..................................................................................................................... 19 Apple and iPod ......................................................................................................................................... 19 The Apple Brand Community.................................................................................................................. 20 Apple and Design ..................................................................................................................................... 23 Marketing...................................................................................................................................... 25 Target Market ........................................................................................................................................... 25 Competition .............................................................................................................................................. 26 Promotion ................................................................................................................................................. 27 Consumption ............................................................................................................................... 31 iPod as a cultural artefact ......................................................................................................................... 31 Perspectives on consumption................................................................................................................... 31 Consumption and the formation of identities .......................................................................................... 32 Consumption as status symbol................................................................................................................. 32 Consumption and needs ........................................................................................................................... 32 Advertising and the construction of meaning.......................................................................................... 33 Transformation of meaning...................................................................................................................... 33 The Future of iPod.................................................................................................................................... 33

7 8 9

CONCLUSION ..................................................................35 BIBLIOGRAPHY ...............................................................37 APPENDIX ........................................................................38

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1 INTRODUCTION
Prior to 1979, portable music for private listening did not exist. Younger people could be seen carrying around so-called ‘Ghetto Blasters’, which were large cassette players with a handle. The word ‘portability’ then had an entirely different meaning. In 1979, SONY released The Walkman, a cassette player that came to redefine the meaning of portability and eventually became a pop-cultural icon. During the last three years, the interest for portable mp3-players has grown explosively. On November 18th 2002 Apple released the iPod, which can be seen as the new generation of portable systems for playing music. The iPod is a portable digital storage device with the main function of being a music player for mp3- files. The product has had a great impact on the market and is now a much soughtafter item among music lovers, Mac-fanatics, and people looking for the latest, cool gadgets. The Walkman became a part of our cultural universe and the iPod might eventually be able to make the same claim? But what exactly is it that has made these products so successful, where does their popularity come from, and why do people choose them?

1.1

Problem

The question posed in this thesis is why certain products become icons of contemporary culture. Our discussion concerns a specific kind of category, namely consumer products that have achieved an iconic status, a strong connection to contemporary culture and that are mainly of technical character. As stated in the introduction, an obvious artefact of comparison with the iPod is Sony’s Walkman, but other examples of iconic products might include the Volkswagen Beetle or the Mini. They are not only examples of effective marketing but have become symbols of their time.

1.2

Purpose

The intention of this project is to investigate our research question by doing a case study of Apple’s iPod which can be seen as a representative example of this type of products and study the factors behind it’s immense popularity. To do this, we will conduct a cultural marketing analysis of the product and investigate this artefact’s connotations and its cultural meaning for consumers. The purpose of this report is not to come up with guidelines for how to develop a successful product with an iconic status, but rather to investigate one representative example of this category. We believe that many of the ideas put forward and conclusions drawn in this paper also can be applied to other products in the identified category, but not all of them. Furthermore, the conclusions drawn will not be applicable to just any brand or product but merely provide an example of why one such product has succeeded. Every brand or product is different with unique characteristics and separate histories that need to be taken into account.

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1.3

Demarcations

In order to increase the validity of the research conducted in this study, the obtained results and conclusions are delimited to consumer products of technical character with a strong relation to contemporary culture. Even for this very specified category though, the conclusion cannot be said to be of universal application. Furthermore, this analysis concerns primarily the US market and our sources are mainly American, although the European market and Sweden (where our focus group was conducted) has partly been studied as well. As described in the Method chapter below, the iPod is analysed in reference to issues concerning the Apple brand, marketing and consumption, within a theoretical framework of these research areas considered important in regard to this particular product. As this paper is a cultural analysis, focus is on connotations associated with the iPod from a consumer behavioural perspective. Hence, the topics of concern will not be discussed from a strategic perspective but rather in an investigative and consequential way.

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2 METHOD
2.1 Case Study

According to Yin, in his book Case Study Research (2003), the preferred strategy when “how” or “why” questions are being posed is case studies. This method of research is also particularly useful when the investigator has little control over events, and when the focus is on a contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context. We believe that these criteria fit well into the context of this report and that our method of research consequently serves the purpose of it.

2.2

Cultural Marketing Analysis

The meaning of Cultural Marketing Analysis is manifested in that our paper is written from a sociological and consumer behavioural perspective. Discussions are centred on consumers’ interpretations of the product and the cultural implications that advertising and branding have for consumers.

2.3

Overview

First, relevant theories needed to make the analysis will be explained. Then, empiric results from a focus group study of iPod users are presented. The theoretical framework and the results from the focus group study are then applied on the iPod and conclusions drawn.

2.3.1

Theory

The theoretical framework that our analysis is based upon is constituted of nine main theories. The different theories are covering complementing parts of how a cultural artefact can be encoded and decoded with meaning. The work of Holt and Muniz & O’Guinn discusses how certain brands come to reach superior status in some way. We have used Norman’s Emotional design model to examine the multifaceted concept of “design”. Cultural meaning is then discussed according to theories put forward by Du Gay, the Frankfurt School, Baudrillard, Slater, Maslow and Willis & Hebdige. This discussion concerns how meaning is transferred to an object in different ways and how this relates to the individual’s needs, identity and status. Through these theoretical inputs, a broad picture of how one can understand an object like the iPod from differing, complementing and contrasting perspectives is provided.

2.3.2

Empirics

To complement the theoretical framework and other literature relating to Apple and the iPod, we carried out a focus group session with iPod users in Stockholm. This direct contact with iPod consumers was very valuable for several reasons. We had the opportunity to ask specific questions relating to subjects of our particular interests, for example about the relation between iPod-, Apple-, 8

and PC-users and how the users perceive their iPod in terms of functional and emotional benefits, identity and status. The input given by the participants gave us ideas of new areas of interest to explore further. The focus group method might have been even more rewarding if we would have used more people and/or people with other backgrounds.

2.3.3

Analysis

In the analysis the theoretical framework and our empirical work is jointly applied on the case of iPod. We have divided our analysis of the iPod into the following three main areas: Apple – A brief history of the company is given and issues relating to the Apple brand, the brand communities of Apple and iPod, Apple’s design tradition and the development of the iPod are discussed. Marketing – The positioning of the iPod in relation to target market and competition is covered and an analysis of Apple’s promotional activities of the iPod is given. Consumption – Issues of how the iPod relates to the needs of consumers, how people attach different meanings to the product, how people use it to express identity and consume the artifact as a status symbol are discussed.

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3 BACKGROUND
3.1 Apple

Apple was founded in 1976 by Steven Wozniak and Steven Jobs who had been friends since high school. At that time Apple produced computer circuit boards and it was not until 1984 a complete packaged computer was released: The Macintosh. It revolutionized the computer industry with its graphical user interface and its high-speed processor (8Mhz). The revolution of the Macintosh was displayed to the public in what is said to be the greatest TV commercial ever made (Shimp 2000, p. 297). The commercial refers to the Big-Brother theme of George Orwell’s book 1984 where humans are controlled by an omnipotent institution. At the time, Apple and IBM were virtually the only players in the personal computer business and IBM was undoubtedly the race leader.

1984 TV COMMERCIAL The commercial displays a reality where a grey mass of indifferent, zombie-like citizens is staring at a huge screen where an all-mighty Big Brother praises conformity and “unification of thought”. Suddenly a colourful woman in athletic wear runs in, throws a sledgehammer into the screen which explodes, Big Brother is eliminated and all humans are set free. Then the message shows up on the screen: “On January 24 , Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.” In effect, the commercial depicts Apple as the liberating rebel who puts an end to the mass-controlling IBM (www.uriah.com/apple-qt/1984.html). The 60 second advertisement was only shown once during the Super Bowl final and never repeated, it cost $400 000 to produce and $500 000 was paid for the spot. To pay these amounts for a single ad spot was unheard of in the year of 1984. The Macintosh became known to the general public literally overnight and the Apple identity of today was born.
th

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THINK DIFFERENT CAMPAIGN Apple has clearly positioned themselves as being a creative, innovative and rebellious brand and in 1997 Apple launched their largest branding campaign since 1984: “Think Different”. It uses photos of famous “free-thinkers” who have changed the world in some way, like Mahatma Gandhi, Pablo Picasso, Muhammed Ali, John Lennon, Thomas Edison, Alfred Hitchcock and more. Steve Jobs said: “Think Different celebrates the soul of the Apple brand - that creative people with passion can change the world for the better…" (www.apple.com/pr/library/1997/q4/970929.pr.rel.adcampaign.html)

3.2

iPod

Most of us agree upon the idea that the iPod is a product of the time we live in. The factors that made it come into being are related to the technology behind the product, but also to movements in modern culture and Apple’s creative capital. The iPod, together with other models of portable mp3-players, is looked upon as a technological breakthrough by music-listeners of the world. The file-sharing technology founded by Napster laid the ground for an historic era of music-distribution when the world of music consumers hailed “free music for all!” The need of making downloaded music easily portable was created, and what eventually has made the product category of mp3-players (of descent memory capacity) viable is that data storage discs have become small enough for this use. In the case of the iPod, its capacity/size ratio is among the highest in the market, which attests Apple’s capacity to put together top-of-the-line technology.

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The iPod’s slim design and high technological capacity are more or less obvious features, but it is also a socially constructed technological artefact resulting from a hype dating back to the days of Napster . In the wake of the iPod, Apple has launched the service iTunes, which is an interface for downloading and playing music. This is clearly a way of adding value to the core product, but also possibly legitimating the product after the controversial Apple advertisement with its ‘rip, mix, burn’ slogan. Moreover, the iPod stars in American rapper 50 cent’s P.I.M.P. music video. This is clearly a conscious choice, but why is it an iPod we see and not a just any mp3-player? Apple has a reputation for its capability of innovation, product uniqueness, and being able to “think outside of the box”. In our opinion these are major factors for success and the reason why their products cut through the clutter of consumer electronics. Besides satisfying the basic functional need of listening to portable music the iPod also represents something more; it provides unique value in the form of certain emotional benefits.
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1

Napster was the first file-sharing program to reach a worldwide audience and has had a huge impact on people’s buying

behaviour in music.

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4 THEORY
4.1 Holt: What becomes an Icon Most?

In the article What Becomes an Icon Most? Douglas B. Holt (2003) explains that a prerequisite for creating a truly iconic brand is a strong connection to present culture. In all modern societies there is a gap between society’s ideology of “what you should be like” and how people really are. In today’s western society it could be argued that we converge towards a more uniform, general role-model where everyone is expected to have a certain “look”, a certain education, a certain profession, posses certain values, be top-performing and so on; if you’re too radical and don’t fit within these frames, you’re looked upon as a loser. To resolve tensions between ideology and individual experience like this, people need what Holt refers to as myths. Myths in this sense are stories created around a brand that provides its image and identity. A brand can use myths to position itself as something that goes against the present social ideal. Instead of trying to conform to this ideal, consumers can go the other way by consuming the rebellious brand. In the article, Holt argues that if a brand wants not only to be successful but also to become a truly iconic one, it has to constantly adapt to present culture and react to the social ideal by providing the right tension-solving myths.

4.2

Muniz & O’Guinn: Brand Community

In the article Brand Community (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001), it is concluded that the established construct of community can form around specific brands. The article is relevant for our purposes since one of the brands found to have a strong enough consumer base to constitute a brand community is Apple. A brand community is said to exhibit traditional markers of community and to constitute a major part of a brand’s larger social construction. The definition given of a brand community is “a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relationships among admirers of a brand”. Muniz and O’Guinn compare three traditional markers of community with the concept of brand community to legitimise it as a community: 1. Consciousness of kind refers to the consciousness and ‘we-ness’ that community members feel towards each other, and the collective sense of difference from others not in the community. This is the most important element of community. 2. Rituals and traditions hold the community together by maintaining its culture. An example of a ritual is that Saab owners might beep or flash the lights when passing by another Saab. Other typical ways to strengthen the brand community is to celebrate the history of the brand or to share brand stories 3. Communities are marked by a sense of moral responsibility, which is a feeling of duty or obligation towards the community as a whole and to its individual members. In brand communities this appears as integrating/retaining members and assisting in the use of the brand. 13

In the article, consumption of a number of brands is examined, and consumers of three brands are found to constitute brand communities. The three brands are Saab, Bronco and Apple. The conclusion of the article is that traditional traits of community are also applicable to brand communities. Of the three markers above, consciousness of kind and rituals and traditions were clearly apparent and a sense of moral responsibility was observed in a limited and specialized way. Another source that testifies that the consumers of Apple and Macintosh are of a special kind is the book The Cult of Mac by Leander Kahney. Kahney states that the brand’s customer base has supported the company with a faith in its will to innovate, even during stretches when it hasn’t. (NY Times Nov 30, 2003)

4.3

Norman: Emotional Design

Donald Norman claims that consumers are becoming more dependent on the design of the emotional reaction to an object, referred to as ‘emotional design’. This reaction is a process simultaneously taking place at three different levels and good design needs to take all of these into account. Objects that possess a visceral design are said not to be ‘designed’ in the ordinary sense but instead constitute a model for the kind of design that speaks to our inner self. It is design on this level that make us perceive something as genuinely beautiful. An example given to explain this design is the symmetrical shape of a flower. Because good visceral design is formed according to values inherent in us as biological beings, this design has a timelessness that designs based upon attempts of conveying a message lack. Norman gives Apple’s iMac as a typical example of this type of design with its soft lines, sensual form and a simplicity, which gives it a timeless expression. The next level, behavioural design, concerns primarily usability; how fast, easily and effectively the product can be used in relation to its purpose. Reflective design, the third level, has to do with the meaning created when a product is used and the message that the use of the product conveys. Norman also notes that all use can be seen as a kind of communication. Reflective design is more complex than the other two levels and especially difficult to develop, partly because it involves so much more than just the object. This third level exceeds the object itself and concerns the context in which the object exists. In this paper Norman’s three-level model will be used to analyse the iPod itself, but also for interpreting the different promotional contexts that the product appears in.

4.4

Du Gay et al.: Cultural meaning

When analysing the iPod, some parallels can be made to the Walkman. According to Du Gay et al. in Doing Cultural Studies – The Story of the Sony Walkman (1997), the cultural meaning of an artefact is created through representational practices such as advertising, which often has a crucial role in how the product is to be received by the market. A cultural artefact is defined as something that is not merely a part of our culture; it also acquires a culture of its own, with varying meanings and practices. According to Du Gay things do not have an inherent meaning and the cultural meaning is created not through objects but as a result of social discourses and practices and how it is represented in visual

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and verbal terms. Representation is formed by meanings constructed from gestures and languages. Existing meanings can be extended from something we already know to something new, referred to by Du Gay et al. as Chain of meaning. Meaning and connotations can also in some cases be extended into networks of meaning, or semantic networks, where every association develops into its own language. Other ways of constructing meaning is by the way the product communicates its similarities and differences compared to other products and how the artefact acquires meaning through connection with pop cultural themes.

4.5

The Frankfurt School: Production of consumption

When applying consumer behavioural theories concerning artefacts’ meaning, some different strands of thought can be discerned. According to the ‘production of consumption’ theory, which was introduced by sociologists at the Institute for Social Research, also known as the Frankfurt School, consumption is looked upon as something preordained by the logic of capitalist production (Du Gay et al. 1997). Production is here represented as the decisive factor behind consumption and from this perspective no individual interpretive flexibility is possible; the needs of the consumer are created by producers and advertising agents and all commodities have a predestined and fixed meaning.

4.6

Baudrillard: Identity value

Baudrillard (1988) opposes the Frankfurt theory, which reduces needs to finite, natural, and connected to specific objects. According to him, objects lack inherent meaning; instead, the meaning comes from how it is used. He consents to the fact that producers try to inscribe semantic meanings into products, but the interpretations of these depend on the individual consumer. In relation to a specific need, objects can be substituted; a need is not a need for a specific object. Furthermore, Baudrillard argues that material culture not just has a ‘use’ value, but also ‘identity’ value, which means that it functions as a marker of social and cultural differences and consequently works as a medium of communication. Consumption serves as a language, a system of meaning, and a code by which society communicates.

4.7

Slater: Needs, identity and status

According to Don Slater in his book Consumer Culture & Modernity (1997), all consumption is cultural because it involves meaning. These meanings are shared but individual preferences form within consumer cultures as well and through culturally specific forms of consumption, we not only produce but also reproduce cultures, social relations and society; to be a member of a culture is to know the local codes of needs and things. Slater argues that it is the culture that constitutes the needs, objects and practices that make up consumption. He also notes that goods are able to mark status because they are part of a high status. Therefore, by imitating these life-styles through the consumption of associated goods, “lower status social climbers lay claim to higher status” (Slater 1997, p. 156). In relation to this it is important to note the cultural and geographical differences.

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4.8

Maslow: The hierarchy of needs

Consumers in the westernised world have reached a high position in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which implies that once satisfaction of basic needs such as food and safety has been fulfilled the cultural aspect of consumption becomes evident and the meaning of things becomes more important than their functional use to meet a ‘real’ need. In Motivation and Personality (1970) Maslow argues that there is no difference between animal needs (for food, sex etc.) and higher desires (for truth, love and beauty) which are created by culture. Furthermore, there exists a basic aesthetic need, which means that ugliness can make certain people sick but they can also be cured by beautiful surroundings; they crave actively and their cravings can be satisfied only by beauty.

4.9

Willis and Hebdige: The Construction of Meaning

Advertising is one of the key factors behind the formation of associations. It is a representational and cultural practice that is meant to appeal to consumers by engaging with the product’s accumulated meanings, and construct identification between these meanings and the consumer. It is a cultural language that speaks for the product. Slater (1997) describes a sub-cultural analyses conducted by sociologists Willis and Hebdige in 1978 where they studied sub-cultural groups and their use of commodities as signifiers in an active process for the construction of identities, and their symbolic consumption of material culture. These studies promote the theory of consumers as self-conscious cultural experts whose knowledge in consumer culture provides them with great freedom in the use of artefacts to form identities.

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5 EMPIRICS
5.1 Focus group of iPod users

The group consisted of four persons between the ages of 21 – 26 years, all students at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. The focus group was carried out at facilities of this school on June 10th 2004. We realise that this is a very homogenous group, looking at the total population. However, we did not try to put together a constellation like this but tried to think of all iPod-users we knew of. This group might be representative of iPod users in Sweden. Connection between PC-users, Mac-users and iPod-users Two of the group members were long-time Mac-users; they saw the iPod as a natural extension of the Mac-system they are already using. They bought it as soon as it was released and one of the members had even upgraded to a second iPod during a one-year period. For these two members the buying decision did not come from an interest in the product category of mp3-players but from the fact that Apple released an mp3-player. These two users saw no distinction between the iPod and Mac in terms of lifestyle, concept or users; it’s all Apple. The third group member was a PC user and bought the iPod for its functionality compared to other mp3-players. The fourth group member was a PC user when buying the iPod but has now converted to Mac. This shows as evidence for a success in Apple’s strategy to use the iPod as a tool to make people consider Mac computers as an alternative to PC. About the iPod in terms of functional benefits An important argument for all group members was that they saw the iPod as being superior to other mp3-players in terms of function with it’s small size combined with large storage space. One subject said that “when I first bought it, it was mainly for the cool look, but when you start using it, it just gets better and better”. Two group members have had to call the Apple support due to problems with the iPod. They were both extremely happy with the treatment from Apple who simply picked up the broken iPods and sent back new ones .
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2

Both occations were subject to the included guarantee

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It was stressed by some participants that the iPod’s big capacity/size ratio and its full integration with the rest of the Mac system were the main reasons for buying it. About the iPod in terms of emotional and experiential benefits The iPod was described with the words: clean, good-looking, reliable, freedom, cool, status, “it makes you happy”, “typical Sony product”, “classic Apple product”, user-friendly, neat, “an image thing”, realization of the self, “reflects the Apple-identity” . It was said that if the iPod would be of another brand (e.g. Sharp) with everything else unchanged, you might not have paid attention to it. It was also said that no other brand would come up with the iPod. When asked to compare the iPod to other owned artefacts the iPod was the most-liked one for everyone, in one case together with another artefact (an old camera). For example everyone said that they were much more affectionate towards their iPods than their mobile phones. About iPod users When the group was asked to describe the typical iPod user, they said that the typical iPod user is the same as the typical Mac user who was described as: Conscious, “…they are into interesting things”, “… have a stronger relation to their computer [than do PC-users]”, clubkid, DJ, designers, architect, aesthetic person, “Know what’s going on”, “Music-interested people”, urban people” . The group was asked if they knew of any iPod-users that were not young males with a special interest in technology as themselves. One member responded, “Yes, my friend’s dad has one. He’s an architect” with the immediate answer from another group member “That’s because he’s an architect”. Apple’s strive to be perceived as a brand for creators and innovators has clearly succeeded within this focus group.
4 3

3

Translated from the Swedish descriptions snygg, stilren, pålitlig, frihet, häftig, ball, status, ”man blir glad varje gång man

använder den”, ”typisk Sonyprodukt”, ”klassisk Appleprodukt”, användarvänlig, smidig, smäck,”en imagegrej”, ”förverkligar en själv”
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Translated from the Swedish descriptions: Medveten, “… håller på med intressanta saker”, “Har en starkare relation till datorn”,

klubbkid, designer, arkitekt, estet, ”har koll”, musikintresserade, storstadsmänniskor

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6 ANALYSIS
6.1
6.1.1

The Apple brand
Aspects of the Apple Brand

There is little disagreement among marketers that Apple’s branding strategy has been a successful one. Former Apple marketing executive John Sculley says, “People talk about technology, but Apple was a marketing company” (Wired News 2002). Marketer Marc Gobe, author of the book Emotional Branding, takes this point even further and says, “Apple’s brand is the key to its survival. It’s got nothing to do with innovative products like the iMac or the iPod” (Wired News 2002). We do not share Gobe’s extreme view of the Apple brand but think that to be able to keep the creative, innovative, rebellious myth living, Apple has to perform in the long run. However, we realize that it is emotional benefits that really differentiate Apple from competitors in the marketplace. Apple takes part in extremely technology-driven product categories where computer capacity doubles every 18 months . For consumers to be able to relate to the ever-increasing clock frequencies, storage-spaces, memory capacities and so on, they need something easier to grip, something concrete, and something more human. This human touch is something that shines through the company’s major advertisement campaigns: In 1984 Apple gave power to the people through technology and in 1997 Apple site themselves as a tool for creative people to break through and change the world. Apple’s positioning of being an outsider, underdog or rebel is nothing new, but a fundamental, everexisting concept just like life, death, brotherhood or dominance. To build a brand of such superior strength as Apple, timeless concepts like these can be used. To succeed, careful respect has to be paid both to the core values and competitive advantages of the product itself, but it is also of utmost importance how a brand relates to the social surroundings (Holt 2003). Throughout the history of Apple’s branding strategy, strong rebellious myths have been created around the brand. The solution to society’s pressure to conform yourself to the public measurements is to be strong in yourself and say no. Don’t let the world change you; change the world. Think different.
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6.1.2

Apple and iPod

When our focus group was asked questions whether another company could have come up with the iPod, answers were that it is a “typical Apple-product” and that most other competitors could not come up with a similar product. The only other mentioned company was Sony, who clearly has a reputation of being an innovative brand. We are convinced that it takes a company of Apple’s creative heritage to produce a product like the iPod. As mentioned before, technology alone does not tell the full story

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According

to

Moore’s

Law

computer

capacity

doubles

every

18

months.

See

http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/M/Moores_Law.html for more.

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behind the iPod, it is something else that has made it differentiate from the rest of mp3-players. It has been given a design that seems to fit right into most stylish contexts, from top Hip-Hop videos to a cobranding campaign with the sleek Volkswagen New Beetle. The iPod’s appearance is one of the main reasons for its success, with a slim line look that has managed to attract people who had not thought about purchasing an MP3 player before. Throughout Apple’s history, superior design and usability have been key points for survival more than trying to compete with price or performance. This tradition of considering the consumer in the first place, to create a product that fits the needs of the consumer is the foundation of the Apple-philosophy. Through experience, Apple has created an organizational culture and built up a creative capital that makes them unmatched in this way of working. For the first time Apple applied this accumulated experience on another product category than computers, and out came the iPod. Another way in which Apple has created incomparable added value to the iPod, was by making it fully compatible with the existing Apple world of computers through hardware, software and wetware . The key feature of this integration is the iTunes interface for downloading and listening to music. It is a seamless connection between the iPod, computer and an online music store where music and music videos can be browsed and instantly downloaded. It became the first legitimate music downloading service and is viewed as a success in the business. For example, at 99 cents each, one million songs were downloaded during the first week (NY Times, September 7, 2003).
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6.1.3

The Apple Brand Community

The consumers of Macintosh computers are often used as an example to illustrate how dedicated consumers can be towards a brand and the iPod consumers show a similar kind of brand dedication. At the release of the iPod, the foundation of the iPod community was laid by Macintosh users, which was testified by participants of our focus group: Two users said they ”see no distinction between the iPod and Mac in terms of lifestyle, concept or users; it’s all Apple”. Moreover, it was said, ”…the typical iPod user is the same as the typical Mac user”. However, as the iPod-market has matured, groups outside of the Mac community have joined the iPod community – one example is youths, which is discussed later in this report. We have applied the three markers of community stated in the Brand Community article (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001) on the iPod. A note worth making is that we consider Apple, Macintosh and iPod all as separate but undoubtedly overlapping brands. Consciousness of Kind: Members of a brand community note a critical demarcation between users of their brand and users of other brands. In the case of iPod this would include all the ways iPod-users are differentiated from users of other mp3-players. In most contexts we have encountered the iPod in, it has been referred to as something set apart from other mp3-players. For example NY Times (Feb

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Wetware is the time invested by a user to learn a system. The time invested by Mac-users to learn the Mac environment can

be applied to the iPod and the programs supporting it. If buying another mp3-player, Mac-users would have to invest more time to learn a new system.

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15, 2004) writes about how behavioural patterns change in New York because of the iPod – not because of “mp3-players”. As stated above, large parts of the Mac community have become part of the iPod community. The Mac community is well known for clearly differentiating themselves from others, for example through different online Web communities (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001, pp. 418419). It follows that this is also a natural characteristic of the community of iPod users. One user says “It’s a society within itself … You’ve got your biker community, your hip-hop community, and now you’ve got your iPod community.” (NY Times February 15, 2004) Rituals and Traditions: Typical ways in which rituals and traditions strengthen the culture of a brand community are to celebrate the history of the brand, to share brand stories or to share consumption experiences. A well-known brand story that Macintosh users like to tell is the “Mac immunity”, which tells about times when IBM computers were plagued by viruses whilst there are no existing viruses for Macintosh computers. Another way the Macintosh community celebrates the history of the brand is by showing nostalgic pictures of old classic computer models. The history of the iPod is too short to find a wide celebration of it. However, some other strong rituals and traditions can be found. An example of a consumption experience that is unique for iPod users are the so-called iParties that are coming up mostly in London and New York. APT Club in New York (http://www.aptwebsite.com), BarTwenty3 in Nashville, and Nambucca in London (http://www.ipoddj.com/playlist/) all host iParties. On these nights, the turntables are replaced by a set of iPods and hosting “iDJs” with names like “iMoon” and “iMickey” spin on their iPods (http://kr.typepad.com/music_business/images/iPartyEmailer.html). The interesting thing about these nights is not that Djs play music from a digital source – which has been done for quite a while now – but that everyone can bring their iPod, plug it in and be the iDJ. Voluntary Djs get to stay up either for a set period of time or until they get “booed” off the stage in an old-school rap battle fashion. This is nothing that Apple officially has anything to do with although it does not seem impossible that Apple would push for these types of events to create word-of-mouth effects among the “right people”. However, at the end of the day it might not matter, iPod users still take part of this unique consumption experience, which reinforces the iPod brand community.

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iPARTY: iPods instead of turntables at APT club in New York Another example of how iPod users share consumption experiences is by sharing pictures of their iPods on public online photo galleries (http://galleries.ipodlounge.com). IPod users show their iPods in different geographic locations from all continents around the globe. Popular ways to display one’s iPod is together with another object (e.g. a puppy, another Apple product or another personal favourite object), together with a person (e.g. a baby or a woman’s body in bikini), or most popularly - in the foreground of a well-known tourist attraction (e.g. the Eiffel tower or the Disneyland) or beautiful scenery. The practice of sharing pictures of one’s iPod from all over the globe is particularly interesting, looking at Muniz and O’Guinn’s definition of a brand community that states that it is a “nongeographically bound community”. Users of the iPod obviously feel part of a global community and enjoy sharing, viewing and commenting on other members’ pictures.

iPODS AROUND THE WORLD: Photos taken by iPod users Moral Responsibility: In the Brand Community article, moral responsibility was the least apparent of the three traits in brand communities, as compared to traditional communities. One aspect is to assist other community members in the use of the brand. Evidence of this is shown both for Mac and iPod communities at different independent Web forums (e.g. http://macusersforum.com, http://www.macforums.com and http://www.ipodlonge.com, http://www.ipodbeat.com) where members can post

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questions and get trouble-shooting assistance from other members. Members also give each other assistance in less problem-based issues like how to wear the iPod and how to act with it. Another important part of the sense of moral responsibility is to integrate and retain members of the community – this is essential for the survival of the community. In the case of Macintosh, evidence of this type of practices can also be found on the Web forums. By tradition, Mac homepages tell horror stories about PC-users and typically show top-ten lists of why Mac beats PC (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001: 425). In the case of iPod, however, we have not found this kind of web content to the same extent. Even though iPod users clearly demarcate themselves from users of other mp3-players, the attitude seems to be more open and less hostile towards them. The probable reason for this is that the iPod system is open for both Mac and PC users. Becoming an iPod user is not as radical as switching to the Mac system, and consequently the iPod community does not have to “protect its property” to the same extent as the Mac community does. Looking at the three markers of community in the iPod case, it is clear that a strong iPod community exists. Just like the general case of Muniz and O’Guinn’s definition of a brand community, the trait of moral responsibility exits in a limited and specialized way for the iPod. A brand community is part of the brand’s larger social construction and directly affects all four components of brand equity: perceived quality, brand loyalty, brand awareness and brand associations (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001, p. 427). Moreover, a brand community is active in the process of creating meaning for the brand. The way people use, talk about, wear and act with the iPod affects its image. The NY Times (Feb 15, 2004) even describes the iPod community as a new type of species because of the way they act: “New York is invaded by zombielike robots … They carry a secret weapon – no bigger than a deck of cards … Two white wires that run from their ears into their clothes … They’re already here: the iPod people …”

6.1.4

Apple and Design

The design of Apple’s products including the graphical user interfaces has been their most important competitive advantage ever since the first Macintosh appeared on the market. The Apple design department has over the years received a number of awards within industrial design and besides the iPod, products like Cube, iBook and Power Book all have a patented design. Apple holds thousands of different patents and the reason behind their rigid patent policies is found in the company’s history. Throughout the years many companies have tried to be successful by copying the Apple design. After the release of iMac many similar products appeared on the market, trying to reproduce the computer’s characteristic colour and form. In 1999 Apple filed a lawsuit against Future Power for inadmissibly copying the patented iMac design. Apart from the more apparent similarities in form, the computer was, just like the iMac, available in five different pastel colours (Wired News 1999).

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LEFT: Future Power, RIGHT: Apple’s iMac With the iPod, Apple again has been subjected to competition from similar products. Below, D Cube from the Korean manufacturer Nextway is shown. Just like the iPod, it is white, has an LCD display placed above a scroll wheel, and similar buttons.

’ LEFT: Nextway’s D Cube, RIGHT: Apple’s iPod What is it then in the design of Apple’s products and specifically the iPod that makes them so attractive? In the article The Guts of a New Machine (NY Times 2003) by Rob Walker, Steve Jobs explains: “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like, people think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feel like. Design is how it works.” According to the article the message from Jobs was that only Apple could have developed the iPod (which was also the opinion of our focus group). Jobs continues: “As technology becomes more complex, Apple’s core strength of knowing how to make very sophisticated technology comprehensible to mere mortals is in even greater demand”. As indicated by Jobs, consumers don’t care about technical specs; they care about how many songs it holds, how quickly they can transfer them, and how good the sound quality is. Everything around the iPod is meticulously designed, including the package with the certain way in which the box opens and how the foam is cut. The iPod together with iTunes form a perfectly seamless system where all that needs to be done is to plug the iPod into the computer and the music flow starts automatically. Also the iPod’s surface is seamless; stainless steel behind and white on front, with the wheel, one button in the centre and four beneath the LCD screen. In the NY Times (Nov 30, 2003), Jonathan Ive, Apple’s vice president of industrial design, accounts for the characteristic white headphones, delivered with iPod: “I remember there was a discussion: Headphones can’t be white; headphones are black, or dark grey.” However, as stated in the article, “uniform whiteness seemed too important to the product to break the pattern, and indeed the white headphones have become a kind of secondary, unplanned icon”.

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During the development of the iPod, emphasis was put on usability and simplicity. According to Ive it was about being focused and not trying to do too much with the device, which would have been its complication and, therefore, its demise. The key was getting rid of things and the enabling features are not obvious and evident. Ive further explains: “What’s interesting is that out of simplicity and almost that unashamed sense of simplicity, and expressing it, came a very different product. But difference wasn’t the goal. It’s actually very easy to create a different thing. What was exciting is starting to realize that its difference was really a consequence of this quest to make it a very simple thing.” As described earlier, Norman (2004) claims that consumers are becoming more dependent on the ‘emotional design’ of an object, which is a process taking place at three different levels (visceral, behavioural, and reflective) and that good design needs to take all of these into account. These design rules are all apparent in Apple’s products. The issues of simplicity and usability, as stated by Ive, are consistent with Norman’s criteria for visceral and behavioural design, respectively. Visceral design is the design that makes us perceive something as beautiful and in accordance with values inherent in us as biological beings. Norman mentioned the iMac as a typical example of this type of design with soft lines, sensual forms and a timeless simplicity. Also the iPod provides an excellent example of this kind of timeless design that many users will adopt immediately. The second level, behavioural design, concerns primarily usability; how fast, easily and effectively the product can be used in relation to its purpose. This too, is something that Apple has taken to its heart and made into one of their main competitive advantages; design is all about how it works and the key aspect is to make complex technology understandable for the ordinary customer. In the following sections we shall see how also the third level, reflective design, has been addressed through the use and promotion of the iPod.

6.2
6.2.1

Marketing
Target Market

An obvious target market for the iPod is that of Macintosh users, but Apple is also breaking new ground by releasing a product for an open system. Some experts mean that the choice to make the iPod compatible with PCs is a long-term strategy to sell more Macintosh computers. This is something that Apple chief financial officer Fred Anderson testifies. He says “We believe the Music Store for Windows will lead to more iPod sales and generate more Mac sales in the future (Macworld Daily News 2003). The logic: By making PC-users buy an Apple product, and maybe also use the iTunes software/service to listen/download music, they might see Macintosh as an alternative when buying a computer. The identity of the new iMac G5 is clearly an elongation of the switching strategy. It is positioned as the computer counterpart to the iPod (www.apple.com). By making the iPod a product for an open system like mp3, new segments are opening up. Traditionally, Apple has been working in closed market-spheres of creators, designers and schools, but now they are also targeting what is probably the most attractive target audience of all: Youths. It is mostly in the American market that Apple is making this new positioning claim through advertisements and celebrity endorsements relating to Hip-Hop culture. Evidence that Apple’s new positioning is a successful one is that it is found

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on second place of the list of ‘must-have’-products among U.S. school kids (Macworld Daily News 2003).

SWITCHING STRATEGY PHASE 1: Make PC-users buy iPod

SWITCHING STRATEGY PHASE 2: Make PC-iPod users buy Mac computers

6.2.2

Competition

The most apparent competition is constituted by the expanding range of mp3-players. In comparison, the iPod is at the high-end of the spectrum when it comes to price, performance and design even though competitors are catching up. However, we think that the iPod can enjoy some first-mover advantages - the tangible part of any gadget can be copied, but not the non-tangible ones. For example the iPod has pre-emptied the position of connecting with celebrities and Hip-Hop culture. If other mp3-players will do the same they will be viewed upon as followers. A conscious strategy from Apple is that in all contexts the iPod has been referred to as “the iPod” and not something like “Apple’s new mp3-player”. A proof that the iPod has been able to clearly differentiate itself from the rest of mp3players, is that according to a survey made by youth attitude analyst Look-Look over what cool new gadgets have been heard of, the iPod is on second place while “mp3-player” is found on place number six (Macworld Daily News 2003).

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Moreover, the iPod also competes in a relevant way with a range of product categories. On the mentioned list of ‘must-have’ products the iPod competes with picture-taking mobile phones, limited edition sneakers and palm pilots. It seems to compete for spending-money more with other product categories and status symbols than other products of the same category (i.e. mp3-players). This can also be observed in our focus group results. For most of the participants, the decision to buy the iPod did not come from a primary interest in the mp3-product category. Instead, they bought an mp3-player because the iPod came out.

6.2.3

Promotion

An equally important dimension as the design and usability of a product is the promotion of it. If the competitive advantages of the iPod are not well communicated to the public, they virtually do not exist. The initial buzz about the iPod was created by the community of Mac users around the globe (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001). Most of these surely heard about the iPod through community websites and wordof-mouth long before it is was officially promoted and released. We have used Normans Emotional design model when looking at the promotional activities for the iPod. As stated by Norman “Advertising can work on either the visceral or the reflective level” (Norman 2004, p.87). One advertisement consists of the iPod against a plain white background. This is obviously a statement made by Apple: iPod is the hero and need no other connotations; it is strong enough in itself. A conscious effect of this is that every individual connects the product with different meanings through personal semantic associations. The iPod’s semiotic meaning consequently obtains a multifaceted character and its polysemism provides the consumer with interpretive flexibility. This ad more alludes to the iconic status already possessed by Apple as a company and tries to extend this status to the iPod. If we look at this ad from the perspective of Normans emotional design model, it clearly tries to speak to the viewer on the visceral design level. Norman takes up iMac as an example of visceral design and the iPod is right on the same track. In this ad, the iPod itself is not alluding to a context to create Halo effects, but instead addresses the viewer directly at the biological plane as a naturally beautiful and desirable object.

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iPOD HERO ADVERTISEMENT Another advertisement for the iPod shows silhouettes of people dancing against monochrome backgrounds of different colours. This advertising line is consistently found on the Apple homepage, on iPod packaging, on TV, on billboards and in magazines and it is the only iPod advertising campaign on a larger and global scale. The moving picture versions found on the Apple homepage and TV are accompanied by music by for example American rap group Black Eyed Peas. The all-white iPod clearly stands out in the stylized, minimalist imagery, fuelling the black silhouettes with energy and joy. This ad consistently goes along with the iconic theme of the first one, even though more hints about the iPod’s personality are given through music and dance. From the perspective of Norman’s Emotional Design theory, this advertisement line is attaching a consistent image to the iPod at the reflective level. Advertising working at the reflective level is all about message, about culture, and about the meaning of a product or its use. As apart from visceral design, which directly affects the emotional plane of a consumer, and behavioural design, which is about how a product actually works, reflective design is about what cultural meaning is transferred to an object from a context. In this ad, key concepts that connect with the reflective aspect of the iPod are energy, joy, minimalism and style.

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DANCING SILHUETTES ADVERTISING In the “Pods Unite” print- and TV campaign, Apple co-brands with another iconic brand: Volkswagen. The deal is to get a free iPod with your New Beetle: What is interesting about the campaign however, is not the deal but the choice of partner. In an article about the campaign, Alison Overholt talks about “a marriage between two classic ‘underdog brands’…” and “A psychographic match made in heaven” (Fastcompany 2003). President of strategist consultancy Reason-Inc Marc Babej comments the iconicity of the two brands on Brandweek.com (www.reason-inc.com/pdf/Brandweek_0603.pdf): “…the best ads for VW and Apple feature the product in front of a plain white background. A Beetle or an iPod is unique – anything else would distract.” The Beetle and the iPod are icons of two generations and by building a bridge between the two, a symbiotic relationship is the result: the Beetle acquires a piece of modern pop-culture and the iPod connects with an established cultural icon.

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PODS UNITE IPOD AND BEETLE CO-BRANDING AD The iconic uniqueness of the iPod, and its differentiation from “regular mp3-players” can be further observed through its distribution. In consumer electronic stores, the iPod is not placed next to the crowd of other mp3-players, but exhibited in its own showcase
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Other than pushing the iconic appearance of the iPod, it also associates itself with a number of celebrities in different ways. It can be seen in music videos by American rapper 50 Cents and RnBartists like Mary J Blige and Jennifer Lopez. Neil Strauss of The New York Times (Sep 7, 2003) writes: “The rapper and the women are dressed all in white, a perfect match for the sleek white design of the iPod, which has exactly as many close-ups as 50 Cent does in the P.I.M.P. video’s opening scenes”. In the US, hip-hop and RnB culture is closely linked to youth-culture in general and Hip-Hop culture has a trend-setting influence among young people. This can be witnessed in the American Billboard list of most sold songs, which holds a significant number of songs belonging to this category of music. For example, at the time of the release of 50 Cent’s P.I.M.P. video, nine out of ten songs on the list were hip-hop/RnB singles (October 2003).

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For example the OnOff-store at Sveavägen, Stockholm (June 2004).

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50 CENT’S P.I.M.P.-MUSIC VIDEO Other well-known celebrities spotted with the iPod are David Beckham and Madonna. That this is a planned strategy could be further witnessed at the release of iTunes for Windows in San Francisco, where Steve Jobs talks with Bono, Dr Dre and Mick Jagger via webcam . Whether it is a question of paid endorsements or not is difficult to find out, seen from the artists’ point of view, the iPod is likely to be a cool item of choice, with an inverse endorsement effect; the artist acquires the positive connotations associated with the iPod. Conversely iPod acquires some superstar associations that are unheard of in the world of mp3-players, and hardly matched by any other gadget. In the U.S., the iPod has mostly connected itself with celebrities of the world of Hip-hop. Like most other things in the case of iPod, this is no coincidence.
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6.3
6.3.1

Consumption
iPod as a cultural artefact

Analogous to the Sony Walkman as described by Du Gay - the iPod, seen as a cultural artefact – can be defined as something that is not only a part of our culture; it has also acquired a culture of its own with particular meanings. These meanings have mainly been created through the representational practice of advertising and how the product has connected with pop cultural themes. Some of the connotations the iPod has come to be associated with so far are youth-culture, technical gadgetry, and trend. But what is more important, the iPod also has the associations normally linked to Apple’s brand.

6.3.2

Perspectives on consumption

If consumption is seen according to the ‘production of consumption’ theory, as introduced by the Frankfurt School, this would imply that the iPod’s meaning already has been defined by Apple and all consumers have the same perception of the product. In addition, it would mean that all consumers have the same needs in relation to the iPod. We would like to put emphasis on the product’s predestined meanings and call attention to their impact on individual consumers. The producers

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The whole iTunes for Windows-presentation can be viewed at www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/musicevent03/

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behind the iPod have tried hard to inscribe meanings into the product and succeeded well in positioning it among consumers, which agrees well with this theory. Nevertheless, Baudrillard’s notion of semantic meaning created from use and consumers’ individual interpretations is highly relevant in this case: people use it differently depending on their separate needs even though their interpretation of the object very much has been influenced by the mechanisms of ‘cultural mediation’ such as marketing, design, and advertising (Du Gay et al. 1997).

6.3.3

Consumption and the formation of identities

In addition to an object’s ‘use’ value Baudrillard also argues for an ‘identity’ value. In this way the iPod can be interpreted as an indicator of social and cultural difference and subsequently work as a medium of communication in itself. As noted by Slater (1997) the meanings involved in consumption are shared but individual preferences form within consumer cultures as well and through culturally specific forms of consumption we not only produce but also reproduce cultures. Our focus group saw their consumption of the iPod as a way of reinforcing and fulfilling their own self-image. It reproduced their own identity by sharing the same associations that they perceived in themselves. To facilitate consumers’ expression of individual identities, accessories are available to accompany the iPod. Besides cases in different colours, famous designers have made their own cases so that consumers can further strengthen their personal preferences, taste, and lifestyle. There are also other accessories to fit sports enthusiasts, handbag with built-in speakers and much more. Apple also represents a lifestyle of its own and the use of the company’s products becomes an expression in itself. For instance, many professionals working in creative fields of work use Apple. These users can then be said to reproduce the ‘Apple culture’ and take part of its associations.

6.3.4

Consumption as status symbol

Slater also explains how certain artefacts and their consumption can work as status symbols by means of imitating high status groups’ life-styles. This can be observed in the way that rap artists act as pop-cultural icons for street-culture. However, we believe that our focus group is more or less representative for Swedish consumers’ view of the iPod, whereas the ‘street-culture phenomenon” is more abundant in the US.

6.3.5

Consumption and needs

According to Maslow, once basic needs have been materially fulfilled, the cultural aspect of consumption manifests itself and the meaning of things becomes more important than their functional use to meet a ‘real’ need. One might ask oneself: what constitutes a real need? Can the need to carry around 40 GB of music in your pocket possibly be categorized into one of these? Slater (1997) argues that culture constitutes the needs, objects and practices that make up consumption. In this view, the need for mobile storage space and music has existed for quite some time; the Walkman and Zip-drive took care of that. However, with the iPod these needs are being redefined and reinforced; the possibility to keep this much information in your pocket has not been there before.

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The iPod represents different things for different people, depending on which needs it fulfils. The separate meanings people attach to it can be seen as different semantic networks. A sharp contrast is here discerned between the Apple loyalists and younger people influenced by street-cultural trends. For the former group it is almost a question of fulfilling basic needs, whereas for the others the artefact mainly acts as a luxury good. As seen in the focus group the iPod was merely a natural choice of purchase in capacity of an Apple extension. Advertising consequently has added other meanings; it is no longer a matter of just listening to music, the significations have extended to aesthetics, trends, and status. It should here be stressed that when asked what the most important factor behind purchase was, our focus group in unison concluded that it was the functional benefits in terms of capacity and design that were most decisive. However, it was also pointed out that if another company than Apple, like Sharp for example, had made the iPod it might very well have surpassed their notice. The product was also seen as something expected by Apple and described as a ‘typical Apple product’. What is more, we believe that an integrative approach is necessary when analysing the reasons for purchase decision where the Apple trademark, advertising and design all work together to form the overall impression.

6.3.6

Advertising and the construction of meaning

The sub-cultural analysis conducted by Willis and Hediges whose results supports the view of consumers as cultural experts who use artefacts to form identities explains Apple’s marketing campaign directed towards hip-hop as a trendsetting sub-culture. Whether the iPod’s existence in music videos by 50 Cents and Mary J Blige, is product placement or not so far remains a secret, but the aforementioned artists, as well as The Black Eyed Peas has high street-culture credibility in the US, which Apple most certainly is aware of. Furthermore, through the association of iPod with popcultural icons, Apple surely hopes to extend this association to become part of the iPod itself.

6.3.7

Transformation of meaning

Material and cultural artefacts’ meaning constantly undergoes a transformation through a process termed ‘Production of meaning’. The iPod has taken on a different meaning now than at the time of its launch. The first iPod users were Apple fanatics, technical gadgeters and people with a deeply rooted interest in music. Along with recent ads appealing to a younger audience by alluding to street-cultural trends, a new market segment not targeted by Apple before has given the product an altered meaning. Youth attitude analyst Look-Look’s research suggests that “the iPod – and Apple's – market appeal is about to move beyond Apple's traditional constituencies among professionals and the middle class” (Macworld Daily News Sept 5, 2003). One theory is that Apple first noticed the fetish-like obsession with the iPod among certain pop-cultural idols and then followed up this trend by further consolidating this image.

6.3.8

The Future of iPod

The iPod has pre-emptied a position in the market that gives it a strong competitive advantage. With iTunes, Apple has obtained media-synergies and established a strong foothold in the market that

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consists not only of mp3-players, but also of other ‘cool’ gadgets. In the US, the iPod has had great success among consumers and is a much sought-after item. In Europe however, marketing efforts have not been as great, which we think has been for the detriment of Apple, and on this side of the ocean we believe that the iPod’s commercial success is still in its initial stage, where most owners so far belong to the category of innovators/early adopters. However, sales are gaining momentum and will probably continue to rise. In Sweden the iTunes feature of downloading music is for example still not available to consumers. On the other hand, the Windows edition of the program has boosted iPod sales. A threat to the iPod is the second version of Napster, which is industry-sanctioned and consequently legal. This edition of Napster provides songs in a new Windows media format that is not supported by iPod. The music industry and related technologies are changing fast, which put products in a vulnerable position in relation to market forces. However, these changes make other, human factors more important. Consumers need something easy to grip and relate to in the clutter of technological gadgets. This is where Apple’s brand and marketing has a major significance.

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7 CONCLUSION
The question posed in this thesis is why certain products become icons of contemporary culture. To answer this question, we have conducted a case study in the form of a cultural marketing analysis of Apple’s iPod, which can be seen as a representative example of this type of products, and studied this artefact’s cultural meaning for consumers and the factors behind its immense popularity. Many of the results and conclusions obtained in this paper can probably be applied to other products within the identified category of consumer products of technical character with a strong relation to contemporary culture. However, the conclusions are not universal and should be applied with care. Most of all, this report provides an example of why one such product has succeeded. Furthermore, our analysis has mainly concerned the US market. One of the keystones behind the iPod’s success is the Apple brand. Ever since Apple’s foundation and the introduction of the first Macintosh, the company has succeeded in maintaining the associations and myths around the brand where creativity, innovation and imagination have been keywords. These same myths and associations were passed on to the iMac and now lately the iPod. From day one the iPod was surrounded by the Apple aura; the initial hype around it was created by Mac users who also laid the foundation of the iPod community. This community of loyal consumers then expanded when groups outside the Mac community who had not been targeted by Apple before were attracted, mainly through association of the product with pop-cultural phenomena in American youth-culture. The only ones that can give a product an iconic status are the consumers. The unbiased opinions, acts and statements of ”people on the street” are far more credible than any profit-driven organization – and this is where the uniqueness of the iPod lies. The iPod community, consisting of all iPod users, creates meaning for the product; the way people use, talk about, wear and act with the iPod affects its image. The community also reinforces the iPod’s perceived quality, brand loyalty, brand awareness, and brand associations. Through advertising and design, Apple has successfully implemented all three levels of Norman’s emotional design model into the iPod. The aesthetics of the iPod, characterized by simplicity, soft lines and timelessness, provides an example of a visceral design, formed according to values inherent in us as biological beings. The visceral design also comes out in the advertising where the all-white iPod stands out in the stylized, minimalist imagery as a naturally beautiful object. In addition, the advertising works at the reflective design level, and connects the iPod with the concepts of energy, joy, style, and youth culture. Moreover, Apple has a tradition of considering the consumer in the first place and during the development of iPod, emphasis was put on usability by creating a product that would fit the consumers’ needs. This is consistent with the concept of behavioural design.

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People are different, and even though a product or an ad from an objective point of view might look the same, consumers will still make individual interpretations of them. Producers try to encode products with certain meanings, and for some consumers these meanings will coincide with their own image of the product but not for everyone. The more people who interpret the producer’s intended message in the ’right’ way, the more successful the positioning of the product will be. In capacity of consumers we use artefacts to reinforce our own identity and transfer their associations and connotations to ourselves. The identity of the iPod, as created by the producers, has been well mediated to consumers. However, this identity is multifaceted and provides interpretive flexibility, which has contributed to its success. The fact that the iPod was placed second on 2003 year’s list of most wanted gadgets among teenagers (with mp3-players on sixth place) proves that it has acquired a market position with wider connotations than being ‘just’ an mp3-player. The iPod has established a close connection with popcultural trends and become a symbol for new consumption patterns of music in modern society as a contemporary cultural icon. Technology is changing faster than ever and predictions are hard to make, but Apple has clearly shown their innovative capacity and gained competitive advantage by preemptying a position on the market for the iPod. Rivals have introduced similar devices and the tangible part of any gadget can be copied, but not the non-tangible ones. When the pace of technological change is constantly accelerating, consumers need something they can understand and relate to.

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8 BIBLIOGRAPHY
Baudrillard, Jean (1988) Selected Writings, Cambridge, Polity Press. Du Gay et al. (1997) Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman, Milton Keynes, The Open University. Fastcompany, (75 October 2003) ‘The “Pods Unite” ad’, www.fastcompany.com/magazine/75/ipod.html. Holt, Douglas B. (March 2003) What Becomes an Icon Most, Harvard Business Review,. Macworld Daily News (September 05, 2003) “Apple mindshare grows; market to follow?” Maslow, Abraham Harold (1970), Motivation and Personality, New York: Harper & Row. Muniz, Albert M. JR. and O’Guinn, Thomas C. (March 2001) Brand Community, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 27. New York Times (September 7, 2003) “Girls? Check. Cristal? Check. IPod? Check.” New York Times (November 30, 2003) “The Guts of a New Machine.” New York Times (February 15, 2004) “The World at Ears’ Length.” Norman, Donald A. (2004) Emotional Design: why we love (or hate) everyday things, New York: Basic Books. Shimp, Terence A. (2000), Advertising & Promotion – Supplemental Aspects of Integrated Marketing Communications, Harcourt College Publishers. Slater, Don (1997) Consumer Culture & Modernity, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Wired News (July 1, 1999) “Apple sues iMac Clone”. Wired News (December 4, 2002) “Apple: It’s All About the Brand”, http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,56677,00.html. www.apple.com www.apple.com/pr/library/1997/q4/970929.pr.rel.adcampaign.html, (October 1, 1997) Apple Launches Brand Advertising Campaign, (press release). www.reason-inc.com/pdf/Brandweek_0603.pdf www.uriah.com/apple-qt/1984.html (Apple 1984 Macintosh commercial). Yin, K. Robert (2003) Case Study Research; Design and Methods, Sage Publications.

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9 APPENDIX
Technical Specification of the iPod

Storage: 10, 20 or 40 GB Battery life: Over 8 hours Skip protection: Up to 25 minutes Display: 2-inch (diagonal) grayscale LCD with LED backlight Ports: Dock connector, remote connector, stereo minijack Connectivity: FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 through dock connector Charge time: hours (1-hour fast charge to 80% capacity) Audio support for Windows: MP3 (32 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible, WAV Size: 4.1 by 2.4 by 0.62 / 0.73 inches Weight: 5.6 / 6.2 ounces

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