An investigation of key drivers which affect consumers’ buying behaviors on Apple product

 

  • Introduction

1.1Background

Apple Company, which was called Apple Computer Company, was established in 1974 (Apple Inc, 2011). Apple Company is an American multinational corporation which designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software and personal computers (ibid). The company successfully expanded its product line by introducing products such as iPod, iPhone and iPad (ibid). The Apple products attract consumers’ attention within a short time and there are a significant amount of people who call themselves ‘apple fan’. These people follow Apple’s news and pay much attention to Apple’s new products. Apple is considered as the Top 1 most valuable brand in the world in 2010 and Apple’s products could be found everywhere nowadays (Brandz, 2011).

 

According to Jonathan (2008), Apple has created a business legend that almost every Apple product has penetrated market deeply as well as people’s life. Jeffrey (2010) believes that Apple products are popular because they have really changed the world and have also made people live easily. For example, it is said that iPhone has changed people’s needs on traditional mobile phones as it has thousands of applications so that it makes consumers easier to access internet or check the map (ibid). Therefore, it is a trend that more and more people carry iPhone and it is considered cool to have an iPad.

 

It is necessary to carry out this research because it focuses on Apple products so that Apple Company may be interested in it as the company can obtain knowledge of consumers’ buying behaviour on its products as well as consumers’ expectation. Knowing this could encourage Apple Company to improve its products, thereby to enlarge its customer base and to obtain more market share. Also, academic institutions might be interested in this research because the research could be used as case study if they want to investigate factors which may influence consumers’ buying behaviour

1.2 Research aim and objectives

Due to the fact that Apple products have been seen a huge success, this research aims to investigate the key drivers which affect consumers’ buying behavious on Apple products. In order to achieve the research aim, three objectives are conducted which need to be fulfilled by the end of the research. The objectives are to:

  • understand the concept of brandingand its importance
  • explore the rolethat technology plays on Apple products 
  • investigate consumers’ buying behaviour on Apple products

 

  • Literature Review

2.1 Buying Behaviour

Consumer behaviour has been defined as the process that under lies an individual’s decision of what, when, where, how and from whom to purchase goods and sercies (Solomon, 1996). Whether customers are individual or a group, understanding their buying behaviour is one of the most important aspects needed for business success. Customers will base their buying decisions on both rational and emotional reasons. To get people buying behaviour is one of the keys to keep them loyal and make them not be influenced by competitors’ offerings (Oakes, 2008).

 

Considering consumers’ purchasing behaviour, it is necessary to understand the factors which can affect it. Different factors may determine consumers’ buying behaviour, such as individual and psychological factors of consumers. Besides, age, gender, income, education level will also influence purchasing behaviour greatly (Solomon, 1996). In addition, to be seen from the product itself, price, quality, promotional activities and evaluation about goods are also considered by consumers (Solomon, 1996). Generally, buyers in the decision-making process are composed of a series of activities associated, which can be divided into five stages: need confirming, information collecting, schemes evaluation, the purchase decision and post purchase behaviour (Hooley & Piercy, 2009). Thinking of the fact that consumers’ wants mostly decide the products to buy, it is essential to understand different purchasing needs. Maslow introduces the concept of hierarchy of needs and he identified five levels (See Figure 1). It could be seen from the figure that there are different needs to be satisfied when people purchase which are survival, safety/security, social, achievement and self actualization. It is very important to understand consumers’ needs then to learn their buying behaviour for a businss. This is because every purchase is done based on needs.

 

Figure 1. Maslows hierarchy of needs

(Source from: Maslow, 1998)

 

2.2 The importance of branding

Brand image refers to the views of customers about a brand. It can be defined as a unique bundle of associations within the minds of target customers (MSG, 2011). Brand image is not something you have or you do not have. It could be considered as a result of business operation which has taken different elements into account, such as product, price, promotion, competitiveness, and business strategies and so on (ibid).

 

Kennedy (1977) stated that brand image consists of both emotional and functional factors. An emotional factor is attached to the consumer’s opinions and attitudes towards a particular company (ibid). For example, if a brand gives consumers the idea of expensive products, consumers may never buy it. The functional factor is attached to those brand factors which are tangible, such as quality, taste (ibid). Nguyen and Le Blanc (2002) believe that a favourable brand image can be a powerful tool in encouraging consumers to buy products from the brands portfolio. The brand image will also strengthen a consumer attitude and their satisfaction of that company. A global brand image, if positive, can also be very helpful when entering new markets as consumers will already be aware of that.

 

It is known that brand image is vital for a company’s survival, but it is not easy to be achieved. This is because different consumers have different ideas and it is out of company’s control to decide consumers’ attitudes. Furthermore, even if a brand has obtained a very positive image, it could be ruined by just one piece of negative news. In general, different approaches might be taken in order to bring a good image based on different company size, mission and operation strategies. However, a very important issue for all companies is to think about the ways to create customer value. According to Hooley (2009), value creation may be direct, such as through the benefits conveyed by superior technology, better service, meaningful brand differe(ntiation and ready availability. All these considerations could influence brand image and company reputation. The concept of marketing is to create value in order to satisfy customers’ needs.

 

In addition to this, a competitive company is better at establishing a good brand image. For example, Apple has become an absolutely market leader in IT industry and at the same time, the brand image is significantly strong. This leads to a fact that the products of Apple have a large amount of followers. Porter (1985) has identified two main routes to creating a competitive advantage which are cost leader and differentiation. In attempting to become a cost leader in an industry, a firm should be aware, first, that there can only one cost leader and, second, that there are potentially many ways in which this position can be attacked, such as technology improvement, location choosing (ibid). As for product differentiation, it seeks to increase the value of the product or service on offer to the customers. A very important issue for organization is to improve its core products and develop potential products. Meanwhile, the organization should consider the ways to make its products distinct from others in order to achieve differentiation.

 

2.3The role technology plays in a company

Reynolds (1999) states that investment in technology and innovation is often seen as a key to strategic success. In many industries, technological development is expressed in new products or augmentation of existing products in new ways. Technology plays a vital role in the business world. Scase (2007) demonstrates that it could not be denied that people have been doing business even long before the introduction of modern technology. However, it is a fact more and more people are looking for convenience in everyday life (Reynolds, 1999). Technology has also made the globalization a reality as companies can expand their markets by using advanced technology such as internet to promote their products (Rugman and Verbeke, 2004)

Technology also plays a key role in the production and distribution of products and most of companies benefit from the development of technology. According to Hill (2009), businesses have become heavily dependent on technology, especially for IT companies. Jobber (2006) points out that almost every company relies on technology to help them improve business performance Technology is used everywhere by business nowadays. For example, companies apply advanced technology to improve production, carry out communication, save costs of distribution. According to Jobber (2006), technology allowed businesses to grow and expand effectively.

 

  • Methodology

3.1 Research methods and research sample

As the research focuses on issues such as the importance of branding and technology, an in-depth understanding is needed. Also, in order to collect consumers’ opinions, there is a need of quantitative data. Therefore, a mixed research method will be adopted in this study. That is to say, there will be qualitative data collection as well as quantitative data collection. Both primary and secondary data will be collected in order to carry out further findings.

 

Quantitative data will be collected from primary research method that 80 questionnaires will be sent to local consumers. The aim of questionnaires is to collect data of consumers’ purchasing behavious on Apple products, thereby to identify the key drivers which could influence their purchase. There will not be specific requirement on consumers’ gender or age group. Non-probability purposive sampling strategy will be used because it provides a range of alternative techniques to select samples based on subjective judgment (Spaunders, Lewis, Thornhill, 2009). The quantitative data from questionnaire survey will be analyzed by Excel. Furthermore, 5 to 10 interviews will be conducted with consumers to collect qualitative data, addressing how brand affect their purchasing decision. Secondary research method will also be used in order to collect qualitative data. It will focus on different previous studies about Apple Company and its products. To obtain secondary data, various measures will be adopted. For example, the official website will be used because it could provide company and products information. Also, articles from journals or any case study from academic books will be reviewed in order to obtain useful information.

3.2 Limitations

Limitations exist in this research. The interviews with staff in Apple Company will be restrained due to time and financial limitation. However, it should be understood that employees and managers in Apple Company know products better and they could provide reliable and interesting information which might not be published before. Since there will not be primary data from Apple employees, such information will be collected from secondary data and there might be a problem that the information may not appropriate for this research because the data may be published by different use.

3.3 Ethical issues

The very first ethical issue taken into account was protecting privacy. All the participants were chosen randomly from local consumers. Consequently, they may worry about their personal information. In order to make participants comfortable to provide information, respondents will not be asked to provide names in questionnaires. Another ethical issue considered is informed consent. It means that the researcher should inform respondents before carrying out the data collection. And the researcher could only start the investigation after obtaining the agreements from participants. In order to achieve informed consent, the researcher explained the research in a polite way to participants and both questionnaires and interviews will be only sent to those who are willing to take part in the investigation.

3.4 Time Table

This research is planning to divide into six stages and lasting eight months. The brief schedule of each stage is presented as below though there may be slight adjustment in the process of research.

Stages

Feb.

Mar.

Apr.

May.

Jun.

Jul.

Aug.

Sep.

Reviewing the relevant literatures and designing research questions

               

Modifying research questions and Doing the background research in Apple Company

               

Model construction and research data collection

               

Field Study in consumers’ buying behaviour

               

1) Data collection and analyzing

2) initial conclusion of the theme, and

3) producing theoretical model

               

1) Apply model and theory in filed;

2) Identify weakness of the research;

3) Finalize the final research paper

               

 

 

Reference List

  1. Apple Inc (2011)
  1. Brands (2011) Top 100 most valuable global brands
  1. Hill, C. (2009). Strategic Management Theory: An Integrated Approach.Cengage: Mason
  2. Hooley Graham, Piercy Nigel F (2009) Marketing strategy and competitive positioning, 4thPublished by FT Prentice Hall
  3. Jeffrey Hughes (2010)IPhone & IPad Apps Marketing: Secrets to Selling Your IPhone and IPad AppsUSA: Que Publishing
  4. Jobber, D. (2006) Principles and practice of marketing (4thedition). New York: McGraw-Hill
  5. Jonathan Zdziarski (2008)iPhone open application development USA: O’Reilly Media, Inc.
  6. Kennedy, S.H. (1977). ‘Nurturing Corporate Image’. European Journal of Marketing, 11(3) pp.120-164
  7. Marketing Study Guide (2011) Brand Image
  8. Maslow Abraham H, (1998), Maslow on management, Published by John Wiley & Sons; Revised edition, Page 158
  9. Nguyen, N. and LeBlanc, G. (2002). ‘Contact Personnel, Physical Environment and the Perceived Corporate Image in Intangible Services by New Clients’. International Journal of Service Industry Management, 13(3). pp.242-262
  10. Oakes Susan (2008) The importance of understanding your customers’ buying behaviour
  1. Porter, M.E.(1985), Competitive advantage, New York: The Free Press. pp.268
  2. Reynolds, J.R (1999) Who will dominate European E-commerce? Threats and Opportunities for European Retailer? Paper presented at the 10thInternational Conference on Research in the Distributive Trades, University of Stirling
  3. Rugman, A. and Verbeke, A. (2004). A perspective on regional and global strategies of multinational enterprise. Journal of international business studies, 35(1), 3-18
  4. Saunders Mark, Lewis Philip & Thornhill Adrian (2009), Research methods for business students. Published by FT prentice Hall, 5thPage 136
  5. Scase, R (2007) Britain Towards 2010 The changing business environment, London: Economic and Social Research Council
  6. Solomon, M.R. (1996) Consumer behaviour: buyer, having, being, Englewood Cliff, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall

原文链接:Consumers’ buying behaviors