Is Apple the World’s First Essential Luxury Brand?

by Andy Cunningham

Apple announced amazing earnings this week with consistent growth across the board and the world. Revenue is substantially up in music and cloud services as well as wearables
while Apple Pay transactions tripled year-over-year and iPhone average selling price
increased from $606 to $724. The company achieved the strongest rate of growth in 11
quarters. Wow.

Apple used to be a tech company, but under Tim Cook, it has been moving steadily into the consumer goods arena. It’s no longer about The Next Big Thing in innovation. Now it’s all about the brand. And a unique brand it is. Apple has become the world’s first “Essential
Luxury Brand.”

This means it has reached two marketing milestones that are rarely seen in the same
company: social currency and addiction. Apple has achieved both.

Buying an Apple product offers the consumer an identity that comes with valuable social
currency. Apple products have become synonymous with the essence of cool tech savvyness combined with design sensibility and creativity. The cool kids don’t “use” Apple
products, they are “on” Apple. No surprise here as the Mac gained its entry to the business world through the back door of Creative and Marketing Departments in Corporate America. And right behind Mac was the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone and, of course, the App Store.

Most luxury consumer goods offer social currency. A Ferrari screams power and
masculinity. A Louis Vuitton bag reveals privilege. An Armani suit signals success. And a
bottle of Opus One indicates knowledge of wine as well as the wealth to buy the good stuff. But none of these brands has achieved their social currency while at the same time
inducing addiction—so much more than a craving. Addiction is actual dependence.

The minute you buy into the Apple ecosystem, your life runs on IOS. Everything that
matters to you is now tied to Apple through your iPhone. You’re dependent on it. You’re
addicted to it. You can’t—and moreover—you don’t want to get off it. You’re on Apple and you need more and more of it to survive. Apple Pay, Apple Watch, Apple Store and App Store, and all the other forthcoming A’s Apple will introduce such as Autonomous Anything, Artificial intelligence and Augmented reality are going to suck you further into the Apple vortex. The potential for growth in this company, even without The Next Big Thing, islimitless as it introduces more and more services for its users.

So seven years after Steve Jobs left this earth having created Next Big Thing after Next Big Thing, thanks to Tim Cook, world class steward of the visionary assets he was left, we have an even bigger, stronger Apple and a new category of company: the Essential Luxury Brand. Who will be next to capture social currency and addiction at the same time? A very tough act to follow.