Comparing Apple and Argos

21 November 2012
By Dmitry Bagrov, Senior Vice President of European Business, Head of London Office

Two important things happened recently. Argos announced that they are likely to shut or relocate 75 of their stores in the UK, and Apple has announced the launch of the iPad mini.

Both events are in fact similar in the way that they were predicted with a high degree of precision. The rumour machine has worked really well again, guessing most of the components of Apple’s new offering (screen size – 7,85 inches, a bit off; screen resolution – 768×1024, spot on; processor A5 – spot on; even the price, $329 was guessed by 9to5Mac).

Furthermore, in the same way that Apple has battled with a continuing dispute with Samsung, Argos, once a high-street dear, is suffering from competition from the likes of Amazon and online parts of rivalling businesses. It is a wonder, quite honestly, that it survived unchanged until now.

They are also similar in another, slightly different way. Both demonstrate the importance of understanding who their target audience is and how they shop. While Argos obviously recognised the change in shopping trends and reacted accordingly, Apple’s latest gismo lacks the focus that was the trademark of this company for years.

Let me illustrate that with an example. I like strawberries. Honestly, I can eat a kilo of there (and suffer afterwards, but let’s ignore that for the time being). Let’s say that you like them as well. And let’s imagine that we asked a couple of our friends and – oh dear! – they also all love strawberries! Fantastic, say we, and next time when we go fishing we use strawberries as bait. And this is where we are going to fail, because fish do not like them. They prefer worms. Or something else, equally unappetising for us, but very tasty from the fish point of view.

The bottom line? Learn what your prospective audience wants. What pains they have. And how your product solves that pain. And that it is possible that your product, however great it was before, can become obsolete. Argos accepted this and the fact that more and more people shop online – and made a decision to move on with life however sad the consequences. It is this  vital decision that saw their shops shut down. Apple, on the contrary, is yet to demonstrate that the iPad mini solves a particular problem, and does it better than competition.

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