One thing that I am very interested in learning about is, what will be Apple’s marketing strategy for the Apple Watch?
Most of the discussion on the Internet has been about the product. After all, that is basically all that Apple has shown us thus far. However, to gain any serious idea of whether it will sell well or not, we have to understand at least the promotion, pricing and channel strategies.
Here, I would like to touch on some possible marketing strategies;
- It is very likely that Apple will extend the distribution channels for the Apple Watch to fashion and jewelry. These are obviously new channels for Apple, and it is unclear whether these channels will be very cooperative.
- Apple could possibly repeat the channel strategy that they forced on retailers after the introduction of the Bondi Blue iMac; that is, they might demand that jewelry shops treat the Apple Watch in a very special way with a dedicated display.
- Apple already has a very strong brand, but it is not yet associated with watches. It will be an uphill battle into which Apple is likely to dedicate a huge amount of resources. We can expect Apple to work with news outlets to increase media exposure of the Apple Watch, while Apple will also invest heavily in advertising.
- Jewelry outlets typically do not have to explain how the products work. Watches do not have many functions, and the functions that they do have not changed much in decades. The precious watches are typically displayed behind glass cases, and only when you ask the shopkeeper to open the lock, can you touch the device. This will not work for the Apple Watch. Customers will have to touch it and to test its wide variety of features to understand how it will suit their needs. There also needs to be a person who can explain it to them. It is very likely that the vast majority of jewelry outlets will not be up to this task. If this is the case, it is possible that Apple will severely restrict outlets and demand that they reserve dedicated space and staff for the Apple Watch.
- If getting jewelry outlets to carry the Apple Watch in a sufficient way turns out to be too difficult, then Apple might restrict retail to the Apple Store and online.
All in all, there are many challenges in the channel strategy. It would be ideal if Apple could get jewelry outlets onboard, but that could turn out to be very difficult. Advertising and promotion however should be more straightforward and we can expect a lot of that going forward.