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Apple’s Decline: Does Brand Preference Data Signal More Trouble Ahead?

by User Not Found | Mar 20, 2014

Before Christmas I posted a warning to today’s twin tech titans that they couldn’t afford to rest on their laurels. After analysing the latest results from our ConsumerMetrix survey it looks like that warning has intensified for at least one of the two. Apple had one of the weakest performances during the second half of 2013 in our brand preference survey. Its overall rating fell by 5.1 points to 17.3 compared to the first half of 2013 leaving it in fifth place behind HP and only slightly ahead of LG in sixth place.

Apple’s decline was marked by a significant change in ratings from its core customer base, the young and affluent. In the most affluent households (more than $100k annual income) Apple saw the biggest decline of the 21 technology brands included in the survey.

When I discuss our Brand Preference Index with people for the first time, many are surprised to find that Apple is not the number one brand in the first place. In fact it ranked third in Q4 2012 and has slipped to fifth a year later, behind Samsung, Sony, Microsoft and HP.

Source: Strategy Analytics ConsumerMetrix survey, Dec 13/Jan 14


Methodology: The 2013 Q4 ConsumerMetrix survey was fielded online in December 2013 and January 2014. The sample consisted of n=2024 individuals in the US and n=4095 individuals in Europe ages 15-65+. The data was weighted by country, age, gender and internet use to represent the US and European populations of internet users, respectively.

But Apple is not even in first place in highest income households – it ranks fourth - and, as noted, its rating here has been falling rapidly. Apple clearly gets strong media coverage in general and particularly when it launches new products, leading to the perception that it is a market leader in many ways. We believe that the fact that Apple has had fewer high profile launches and obvious hits in recent times is one factor behind its apparent recent decline. It would seem highly unlikely that the brand will continue to fall rapidly in this Index, but the warnings from brands like Blackberry and Nokia suggest that things can change more quickly than anyone had imagined. In a competitive technology market even the leaders cannot afford to relax.

I believe there are several reasons why Apple is not ranked as highly as people expect. One is that we ask respondents to consider what they would normally spend on technology products. It seems that respondents recognise that Apple is a premium brand and, however appealing it might be, those who can’t afford it would not realistically be able to buy it. This analysis is confirmed by the fact that Apple’s profile is weighted heavily towards higher income groups. It ranks only ninth with people who live in the lowest income households.

David Mercer

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