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No. 1 Marketing Disaster of All Time – iPhone (Case Study)

Let’s be honest, we all make mistakes and even big companies like Apple makes marketing mistakes that costs them a lot of money and Today in this article I will talk about the same.

Marketing Disaster of iPhone 5c

The iPhone 5c was the most famous marketing disaster by Apple Inc. back in 2013. It was part of the iPhone series 5 which was revealed by Tim Cook. It was when Apple chose to target a new mass of people who couldn’t own an iPhone before, to give the iPhone experience. What they ultimately came up with was a cheap, plastic phone. Nonetheless, all it turned out to be a great mistake by Apple. The main approach behind this iPhone 5c was to reach even the more widespread mass of people, who until now couldn’t afford an iPhone, hence a cheaper, non-premium version of the phone for the “Non-Rich” people, so that everyone could experience the much-hyped “iPhone”.

marketing disaster
Iphone 5c

Since everybody deserves to own an iPhone, right?

It was similar to the marketing disaster made by Ratan Tata when he announced the launched of Tata Nano, the cheapest car in the world.

Since everybody deserves to own a Car, right?

So, much to the enthusiasm of Apple about its ‘experiment’, the iPhone 5c failed miserably to influence the market. Sales declined drastically and it had to be sold by Apple by giving away lucrative offers to the customers and low EMI’s just to improve its sale. Though the sales of 5c were getting poorer each day, it’s brother iPhone 5s was a success and much to the shock of Tim Cook, it’s sale was way greater than the 5c.

The below data shows how the 5c failed to its brother 5s.

Iphone 5c  Active users
Source- Localytics 9to5mac

Based on a report by a former Apple advertising executive, Ken Segall, iPhone 5c failed because Apple “doesn’t do cheap” and its customers have no passion or use for them. Although we might point out he’s referring to its materials as calling a phone that costs from $549 (handset only from Apple) cheap is an interesting choice of words, and iPhone users certainly did not like that.

So where did Apple go Wrong

  • Contradicting Strategy: First, and the most crucial point, Apple contradicted it’s own legacy i.e. “Apple doesn’t do cheap”. This was the benchmark set by Steve Jobs, that though Apple devices have a higher price tag, what they give is top-notch hardware, best in class technology, solid design and a premium feel to its devices. Contradictory, the iPhone 5c was made of plastic, with ‘fruity pebbles’ like colours; lacked the premium feel and seemed like a Chinese counterfeit of the iPhone.
  • Value for Money: The iPhone 5c was launched in the US for $99 for the 16GB version, which was around ₹42,000 in the Indian Markets. It’s the counterpart and much better and premium version, the iPhone 5s was launched in the US for $199 for the 16GB, which was around ₹53,000 in the Indian Markets. So Much to the strategy of Apple to come up with a cheaper version of the iPhone wasn’t cheap at all. Rather, it was an expensive piece phone and the 5s was way sounder value for money option.
  • Features: In 2013, the iPhone 5s was the only smartphone to appear with a biometrics i.e. the fingerprint reader to unlock its devices and a couple of other security purposes. The 5c lacked the fingerprint scanner, was made of plastic body and lost the premium feel of iPhone which didn’t do justice to consumers.

Conclusion – A Final Thought

The iPhone 5c had to be discontinued in 2015, just 2 years after the launch, and its models had to be sold off giving lucrative offers and price drop later on. Much to the dismay of Apple, the iPhone 5c remains a mistake, a disaster, a failure and a flop product by Apple.

Nonetheless, Apple learnt its lesson for trying to become “Samsung”, the hard way.

Although there is no straightforward answer, hence you can understand that you have to be what your consumer expects you to be. Once you are embedded into the mind of your loyal fanbase don’t try to change that perception otherwise it will going to cost you just like Apple 5c.

Recommended Reading >> 5 Guerilla Marketing Tips and Example That Boosts Sales

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