Wireless retailers have grown used to rolling out a new marketing campaign each fall trumpeting the release of the newest iPhone. Usually, many wireless retailers would find this process fairly routine—the massive popularity of Apple products means the iPhone more or less sells itself.
However, this season is a little different. Rather than simply releasing the newest iteration of the iPhone, Apple is also releasing an extra addition to the lineup: the iPhone X. This model is not just an alternative to the iPhone 8, but rather a radical departure. The new phone is being hailed as a revolutionary piece of technology, and for $999 USD, you better hope Apple delivers on this promise.
This creates a challenge for everyone in the industry. Wireless retailers must market two iPhones simultaneously while educating users about the value of the unfamiliar and more-expensive model iPhone X—and they must do this in an environment where competition for consumers is fierce. So what can wireless retailers do to stay ahead?
- Focus on the enhanced features: The iPhone X comes with a number of exclusive features, including an OLED screen that spans the entire surface of the phone, and a FACE ID feature that promises to enhance security. These features are both revolutionary and broadly appealing, setting the iPhone X apart from everything else on the market.
- Explain the added value: The iPhone X has a hefty price tag that's large enough to dissuade many customers before they even learn what the phone can do. Marketing messaging should explicitly address this issue. Consumers should understand what extras the iPhone X offers over the iPhone 8 models, and also why those features significantly enhance the user experience. Consumers are willing to pay a premium price for a product with premium appeal.
- Offer a superior trade-in deal: This tactic sets individual retailers apart from competitors trying to sell the same product. Retailers cannot lower the price of the iPhone X below a threshold set by Apple. But retailers can offer consumers perks like trade-in deals that help to offset the high cost of this new phone.
- Reflect the company culture: Apple consistently frames its products as a piece of the future made available today. Following that lead, the iPhone X has been presented as a revolutionary product with game-changing features worthy of reverential treatment—whether or not it deserves those accolades is irrelevant. Encouraging customers to feel like they are boldly embracing the cutting edge elevates the iPhone X from a product to a principle.
- Don't neglect the alternatives: The simple fact is that the iPhone X is too expensive for many consumers. Wireless retailers should try to maximize sales, but they can't overlook the fact that the iPhone 8 models will sell more broadly. Calibrating the marketing mix to capture as many consumers as possible ensures that efforts in one area do not compromise efforts in another.
- Anticipate a limited supply: There are already indications that the iPhone X is struggling to meet production quotas. And the worst scenario for wireless retailers would be to attract a high-value customer and then be unable to fulfill their order. Apple is ultimately in the driver's seat, but an omnichannel approach to retail helps to mitigate supply issues. That way, a one-time marketing push does not compromise the long-term reputation of a brand.
Early reports indicate that iPhone 8 sales are down. But insiders believe that's because the iPhone X is poaching customers. Clearly, there is a demand for an ultra-premium phone being sold as a mass-market product. The retailers with the best marketing techniques will be able to capitalize on high margins while attracting consumers eager to invest in upgrades and accessories. Expect November 2017 to be the start of a gold rush.
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Photos: Flickr / Mark Mathosian, Shutterstock / Hadrian, Shutterstock / Roman Tiraspolsky