With the digital lifestyle market taking off, Apple is again trying its luck in the mass merchant space.
Its new solutions consultant program – which will see an Apple trained and employed staffer at every booth – represents the vendor’s most focused retail push for five years, according to Apple’s marketing manager Arno Lenior.
He said the pilot, which had originally been run at five David Jones stores across the country, had helped grow market awareness and sales of Apple products.
“For us to have a presence there enables us to show people who may not have considered a Mac before exactly what we have to offer,” he said.
Lenior said the David Jones pilot stores had now signed up on a permanent basis. Furniture retail chain Domayne has also recently launched in-store Apple areas in Sydney's Alexandria and Auburn and negotiations were under way for additional retailers.
Despite the potential benefits to the overall channel from such a program, Lenior said reseller feedback had been mixed.
“On the one hand some resellers feel as though they are doing all they can considering there are only ever going to be a few per cent of people who want to buy Apple products,” he said. “They feel what we’re doing is cutting up the pie. I’ve got to say that’s a fairly short-term view.
“On the other hand, market share globally suggests we have 95 per cent of computer buyers to go," he said. "If we can tell the story in different points of presence more business can be drummed up for everybody."
In response, AppleCentre Taylor Square director, Ben Morgan, said the mass merchant concept provided no substantial benefit to the overall Mac market in terms of marketing or overall sales that could not be fulfilled by AppleCentres.
“Apple should have done a call-to-action campaign with its resellers on exactly what they should be doing,” Morgan said. “They haven’t stood behind their AppleCentres.
“They should not be trying to market a brand experience, but a ‘what’s the product, how much is it, and where can I buy it’ approach.”
Although consumers had been unresponsive to Apple’s previous attempts at entering the mass merchant market, Lenior said he was confident the advancing digital lifestyle would bring success this time around.
Apple was serious about returning to the mass merchant channel as it was responsible for a large proportion of sales in the consumer market.
“It would be folly of us not to consider that outlet of distribution,” he said.