Apple’s retail footprint – success and failure

Apple’s own stores are heavily visited by its own Apple home PC customers. Of all the retail outlets that Apple households have recently shopped or purchased in, Apple’s retail stores rank #4. One-third (33%) of Apple households report recently shopping in or purchasing from an Apple retail store. When including Apple’s online store, this number rises to 43%, ranking it also fourth among most-frequented outlets.

Where else are you more likely to run into Apple-owning shoppers? They are more likely than non-Apple households to be found shopping in a Target store than a Wal-Mart store.

  •  Target – 49% of Apple households vs. 43% for non-Apple households
  •  Wal-Mart – 48% of Apple households vs. 62% for non-Apple households

They’re also more prevalent in book stores:

  • Barnes & Noble – 30% of Apple households vs. 21% for non-Apple households
  • Borders – 25% of Apple households vs. 14% for non-Apple households

Interestingly, although Apple households are active shoppers, tech-savvy, and very comfortable and facile online, they aren’t shopping at significantly more online outlets than non-Apple households. They do actively shop online, however. Nearly three-fourths (71%) of Apple households have recently shopped or purchased online, compared with nearly two-thirds (64%) of non-Apple Households. More of Apple’s shoppers frequent eBay than Apple’s own online store. The #2-ranked destination for Apple households is eBay, having recently attracted just over one-third (34%) of Apple households. Apple’s online store pulled in just under a quarter (24%) of these Apple owners.

Where Apple Households Shop - Apple Profile Report 2008

Where Apple Households Shop – Apple Profile Report 2008

Since non-Apple households outnumber Apple households 94% to 6%, if all else was equal, it could be expected that non-Apple shoppers would frequent Apple’s retail or online stores in similar ratios. That may be Apple’s grand desire, but at this time Apple’s customers have a significantly higher share of their ranks visiting Apple retail stores than their national shares might indicate. This could be looked at as a strong reflection of Apple’s customer loyalty and interest in special programs and services Apple offers in these stores. Alternatively, it could be looked at as some failing on Apple’s part to get wider distribution of its products.

Even more interesting, and positive for Apple, is the remarkably high share of non-Apple households that shop in and buy from Apple’s retail stores. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Apple’s retail shoppers do not have an Apple PC in their household. Also of interest: 4.6 million non-Apple households shop or buy on Apple’s online site, which is nearly identical to Apple’s entire Home PC customer base of 4.5 million households. This is a testament to Apple’s success in driving tire-kickers and concerned Windows XP users and Vista candidates into its stores, as well as customers for its non-PC products, the iPhone & iPod in particular. These high numbers are also a strong and positive indicator of future potential growth for Apple.

Apple/Non-Apple Shoppers in Apple Retail and Online - Apple Profile Report 2008

Apple/Non-Apple Shoppers in Apple Retail and Online – Apple Profile Report 2008

Beyond everyday consumables and consumer electronics, Apple owners are somewhat unique in where they buy PC-related products. Apple’s own stores are among the top 5 shopping choices among Apple owners, at 13 times the rate of non-Apple owners, even though Sony has a retail presence. Historically, IBM, Gateway, and even Dell have operated their own company-owned outlets and kiosks. These haven’t drawn anywhere near the dedicated attention Apple commands. This is due in part to Apple’s unique and proprietary products, so buyers benefit in being able to get otherwise hard-to-find products. Also, with Apple’s strong brand loyalty, Apple buyers have other reasons to frequent the stores, from their specialized Genius Bar support to Apple-specific training.

With the exception of Apple’s own stores, the top 5 types of outlets Apple households frequent are the same as those shopped by non-Apple households. There is a wide gap between Apple and non-Apple buyers among discount stores, notably Wal-Mart. For more than one reason, Wal-Mart is less frequented by the Apple crowd: the demographics skew in opposite directions, Wal-Mart doesn’t carry the wealth of Apple-specific products found in other outlets, and in many cases, Wal-Mart is located in other regions, states, and neighborhoods than Apple stores.

Where PC-Related Products are Purchased - Apple Profile Report 2008

Where PC-Related Products are Purchased – Apple Profile Report 2008

This information is released from the Apple Profile Report, a Technology User Profile solution from MetaFacts. It is based on recent survey-based research, reporting directly from a representative sample of actual users. The Apple Profile Report is available for immediate purchase through the online store at the MetaFacts website –

Other findings in the Apple Profile Report include:

  • The life of the Apple computer, longer or shorter?
  • How Apple computers are used distinctly from Windows PCs
  • Apple’s retail footprint – success and failure
  • Apple users concentrated in few occupations
  • Apple as the second or third computer; this camel’s nose is sniffing around the tent’s edge
  • Why a cybercafé survey might fool you
  • Just how “different” and elite are Apple customers – socioeconomically, behaviorally, and attitudinally?
  • Apple loyalty – still faithful?
  • The halo effect – has the iPod changed Apple’s PC business?
  • Just how more creative are Apple’s users than the Windows crowd?
  • Apple’s most-connected – broadband households
  • Apple & the future digital home?
  • Apple’s future – who is Apple attracting?

MetaFacts releases ongoing research on the market shifts and profiles for Windows Vista, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Broadband, Digital Imaging, and many other technology industry topics. These Profile Reports are in a series on specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption and use in American households and businesses. Interested technology professionals can sign up for complimentary TUPdates, periodic snapshots of technology markets.

About MetaFacts

MetaFacts, Inc. is a national market research firm focusing exclusively on the technology industries. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are widely recognized as a primary marketing resource for Fortune 1000 companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, peripherals, mobile computing, and related services and products. For more information, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300 or

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Filed under Consumer research, Market Research, TUP 2008