Mastering loyalty: What we can learn from Apple

We’re going to call it the iPhone 7, but thanks to Gs, GSs, and SEs, this is in fact the 10th generation of the iPhone, and 9 years since Steve Jobs stood on that fateful stage that changed the face of mobile forever. In history, it’s hard to name any product -- let alone a device -- that’s spawned so much excitement and loyalty for so long.

As a professional in the buy/sell/trade/upgrade consumer electronics industry, I’ve seen serial upgraders do the dance for for the latest generation of the iPod and now, iPhone. Chronic screen crackers trade in (and trade up) for a functioning device, and countless others for all their own reasons. We have personally purchased millions of consumers’ used gadgets and phones and I’m amazed at how rapidly iPhone owners ditch their one-year-old phone just to be able to carry Apple’s latest and greatest.

This phenomenon sparked us to dig into what drives so much Apple loyalty and we found some great lessons every business owner can learn from.

Focus excitement on your product

The secrecy machine that is Apple keeps media, consumers, and everyone else playing a guessing game nearly year-round. But one thing you will notice is that it is very product-focused. There’s comparatively little attention on the event details, presenters, or even important elements like manufacturing and technology partners. It’s all about product innovation. It’s all about the device and it’s usability. That’s why 70% of current iPhone owners say they are excited about future generation and more than ¾ agree that the iPhone has a lot of potential for growth.

Learn what sticks

An iPhone is great. But Apple has always been working to get more than one device into our hands and innovate towards a center of connectivity. In our research, more than 1 in 3 iPhone owners also own another iOS device, and nearly that entire group says the ability to access content across devices increases their loyalty to Apple.

Give them what they want

Although Steve Jobs famously said, “A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them,” Apple also masterfully adds features people do knowingly want. And today, they have the luxury of data from competitors and consumers alike. Case in point, 55% of current iPhone owners said they will purchase the 7 before the end of the year, and 77% cited waterproof design (already offered on Andriod phones) as a big reason.

Don’t be afraid of big changes

The switch from full keyboard on the blackberry to fingers fumbling on a iPhone’s touch screen was a pretty major leap and still today, Apple puts its customers in some awkward positions- no headphone jack anyone? In fact, less than 15% of respondents said they were excited about the removal of the headphone jack, yet nearly all said they still intend to purchase the latest phone, showing that customers will take leaps of faith with you.

Invest in your brand

The ability to spend $100 on a Facebook ad and see the customers come in mere minutes later makes it hard to spend on brand, but winning brand lets you stand the test of time. Still today, 10 generations in, more than half of iPhone owners cite the product design as contributing to their loyalty and similarly report product quality as doing the same, a higher percentage than any specific feature or software component.

In an era of excellent Andriod phones, several of which are very competitive or arguably even better than the current iPhone, a whopping 88% of iPhone owners said their next phone will be an iPhone. In one of the most competitive markets in business - that is customer loyalty worth coveting.

As for me? I’m right there with you. I was there this morning checking out the lines and I have my iPhone 7 in hand -- no headphone jack and all.



David Chen is the Founder and CEO of NextWorth Solutions, Inc. NextWorth has been providing industry leading omni-channel trade-in solutions and works with retailers, carriers and OEMs around the globe for more than 10 years. NextWorth’s programs provide incentives for reducing eWaste while fundamentally improving how people buy&>own&>dispose their consumer electronics.