The popular release of Apple’s iPhone exhibits the latest example of market research at its prime. Since the announcement of the iPhone earlier this year, a media frenzy has been covering the entire unveiling of the iPhone. Through the hustle and bustle of Apple’s latest product, many other marketers can learn from this example.

iPhone image

The initial reactions after the announcement of the iPhone seemed promising. As early as January 11, research was already being conducted to see if the iPhone would be well received. By associating the product with the iPod, many potential consumers already believed that the iPhone would live up to its name. Merging together two everyday products–cell phones and iPods–attracts potential consumers to the product.

Apple took three dominant steps in projecting the iPhone buzz: using different types of media, giving the product a recognizable brand name, and a vigorous word of mouth campaign through a series of pre-announcements. In using the media, Apple was incredibly savvy with using the television, print, and internet sources to spread the word about their product—which therefore led to the word of mouth campaign. Brand recognition and reliability association iPod and iTunes made the name “iPhone” linked to these products rather than an Apple name. Market research concluded that consumers are more likely to recognize i-products than Apple products, thus making the association with iPod and iTunes the obvious choice.

Many questions have been asked about the product: Who will be upwards of $500 for a cell phone? AT&T has a monopoly on the product—how many people will switch their network provider? Is it smarter to wait for the second generation iPhone to come out? The results of a survey conducted two months ago to about 1300 cell phone users concluded that about 6% of the population would purchase an iPhone despite cost, carrier, and novelty of the product.

According to a Google Groups market summary of Apple’s iPhone plan, “The iPhone targets consumers who need to store information and communicate or people who want entertainment on the go.” Apple obviously conducted a great deal of market research to target the primary and secondary audiences. Apple states in their market report that “Staying close to the end user and listening to the customer will be paramount to our success.” Focus groups and surveys are among the many tools that Apple is using to determine what would attract a potential consumer. In tandem with their research, Apple was able to make a business plan that carries the iPhone through 2010.

Apple has followed the pillars of market research by thoroughly using their resources. Apple did not focus on one kind of market research–they used surveys, interviews, focus groups, and even searched Apple fan websites online to see what people were saying about Apple products as well as their competitors. Quantitative and qualitative research were both used in addition to a great deal of descriptive and exploratory research. The results of the research were taken into consideration to develop the iPhone.

Apple has perfected the art of market research by getting to the root of the consumer. As a major new purchase, the iPhone may hit certain obstacles along the way. By being familiar with these problems before the release of the product, Apple effectively used SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) in preparation of any potential difficulties.

Apple’s market research has obviously paid off. Despite some expected criticism, most of the hype seems valid. Apple’s popularity stems not only from their respectable brand and products, but also their execution and thoroughness of market research. It’s no surprise that a media frenzy follows wherever Apple rings.