With the recent events in Ukraine and Crimea, Apple’s brand has taken a hit in the Eastern European market. Apple Inc., once the shining star of high-end technology and design, is now seen by many as a symbol of betrayal. It is believed that Apple “doesn’t give a damn” when it comes to Russia stealing Ukraine’s heart. The souring sentiment toward Apple as a brand from Russia and its neighboring markets presents an interesting case study on how international brands gain favor with potential markets and how that perception can change seemingly overnight.
In this article we will examine the current state of Apple’s brand in Russia and neighboring nations, the potential opportunities for partnership or market expansion, analyze how their reputation can be restored and discuss the strategies used by other tech giants for similar situations. We will discuss how Apple’s strong cultural bond with their consumers may be manipulated to save face from this diplomatic rift between Russia, Ukraine and surrounding countries. Finally, we will explore what steps they can take to make sure they protect their brand now – and in the future – as well as maintain their competitive edge in world markets despite challenging political scenarios that threaten to damage relationships with key stakeholders.
It’s no secret that Apple doesn’t have the best reputation in Russia. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin famously declared that Apple had “no soul” and that the company “doesn’t give a damn” about the situation in Ukraine.
In the past, Apple devices were viewed as status symbols in Russia; however, Apple’s reputation in the country has been tarnished in recent years due to their refusal to support the Russian government’s increasingly authoritarian policies.
In this article, we will explore the historical background behind Apple’s brand in Russia and how it has evolved over the years.
How Apple entered the Russian market
The success of Apple in the Russian market is due to a series of careful decisions, aggressive marketing campaigns, and synergistic relationships with a wide range of customers. Over the past 10 years, Apple has differentiated itself from the competition by offering a superior product and implementing innovative strategies to appeal to Russian customers.
Apple began its forays into the Russian market in 2008 by introducing two service centers in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. As word spread of their superior products and services, Apple quickly made a strong impression on the Russian market. Another decisive move was made when Apple acquired local online music streaming service Yandex Music in 2016 which shifted their focus towards consumers who had limited access to international markets providing them with accesibility to the global library of streaming music offered by Apple while maintaining tight relationship with local partners.
By 2017 Russia had become one of Apple’s most successful regions outside its home country with unique products that appealed specifically to Russian customers such as Apple Watch Hermès strapped up with crocodile leather time piece sold solely at one store in Moscow, pleasing luxury-minded consumers eager to own what no other Russian could have at that point.
In recent years, Apple has continued to support local stores while also offering iPhones through major mobile carriers – MTS, Beeline, or Megafon just like other global companies do today – allowing easier access for all customer types across the region. The combination of convenient online payments methods for purchasing an iPhone directly from official website was implemented about four years ago marking another attemp from going further away from typical ways of buying iPhones creating even more positive reaction from customers becoming loyalists not only due to branding but due respect for customer convenience and loyalty rewards/offers programs.
Apple ‘doesn’t give a damn’ that Russia stole Ukraine’s heart
Apple’s performance in the Russian market has experienced mixed results. In 2013, Apple was the fifth-largest smartphone vendor in Russia, behind Samsung, LG, Fly and Philips. Since then, it had expanded its growth steadily with a share of 8% by mid-2014. However, Apple’s momentum was disrupted by economic sanctions following the Russian annexation of Crimea in early 2014. Because of high import taxes and currency devaluation, the cost of Apple products has more than doubled in some cases. The weaker ruble has further inhibited consumer demand for premium smartphones as consumers are now unable to afford them.
In 2017, Russia suspended its restrictive trade policy with Ukraine which allowed imports to increase again as foreign payments limitations have ended. Even though Apple has increased store count by twenty-eight percent since 2016 and iPhone sales have surged over thirty percent since last year, overall sales figures still remain low compared to rival phones such as Samsung or Huawei due to their lower prices and wide retail access.
Given the current situation in Russia and Ukraine it remains further uncertain whether Apple will be able to attract customers with their long-term marketing strategy of making sure they meet their customers’ needs despite international affairs and geopolitics affecting purchasing power of local consumers negatively. It seems that so far ‘Apple doesn’t give a damn’ that Russia stole Ukraine’s heart when it comes to investing into their divisive affair economically speaking on a consumer basis scale, leaving fans at an uncertain level about how this crisis will pan out for them commercially speaking in near future if not present already.
Apple’s Brand Perception in Russia
Apple has a very negative brand perception in Russia, primarily due to the company’s perceived indifference towards the Russia-Ukraine conflict. As a result of their inaction, many Russians have felt that Apple ‘doesn’t give a damn’ that Russia stole Ukraine’s heart.
Understanding this perception is important for Apple to ensure their brand is not further damaged in Russia. This article will go into detail about the public opinion of Apple in Russia and the effects it could have on the company’s bottom line.
Apple’s perceived value in Russia
The current state of Apple’s brand perception in Russia is in decline. In 2014, when the Ukrainian crisis occurred and Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, it had a detrimental effect on stereotypes widely shared by the Russian population about American companies like Apple. According to recent research from Ipsos MRBI, 78% of survey respondents reported feeling “negative” or “very negative” towards U.S. companies like Apple following the crisis – a stark contrast to the 72% who said they felt positive towards them previously. Essentially many Russians perceive that Apple does not care about their political struggles and are not invested in helping them overcome any of their difficulties.
It’s also important to consider that Russian consumers have shifted their focus to more affordable local competitors such as Yandex and Mail.Ru Group, which has led to a decline in share value for Apple’s Russian operations – dropping (as of April 2019) from 11 percent early 2017 levels down to two percent of total market share (compared with Android which commands an approximate 77% market share). Additionally, the overall opinion of U.S.-based companies remains particularly unstable due to its ongoing conflict with Russia resulting in any gains achieved through its presence in the region being hindered by this long-standing political disagreement.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that generally speaking there is a feeling amongst many Russians that Apple doesn’t care about their plight and this lack of perceived value has been further influenced by current affairs as well as stiff competition from local brands making it more difficult for Apple to overcome these challenges within this highly competitive market landscape moving forward.
Apple’s perceived quality in Russia
Since the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, Apple’s perceived quality in Russia has been damaged. Apple’s products are seen as being overpriced and exclusive when compared to local competitors. The increasing hostility between the two countries has created a negative image of Apple in Russian consumers’ minds, with many perceiving the company as unsympathetic and favouring the US over their own country. Combined with this, Apple is also seen as culturally inaccessible to the average Russian consumer due to its more premium offerings and a lack of marketing tailored to meet their needs.
For example, Russian consumers rarely comment positively on their experience likely due to the limited number of retail stores offering Apple product support and limited customer service are available. There have also been reports of out-of-date software being sold in some stores, further damaging its brand perception by highlighting a lack of oversight on quality control by Apple.
Competition from local brands such as Yandex has enabled customers who are cash-strapped to purchase smartphones runing on Android OS that can provide comparable performance at lower prices than iPhones. This has eroded even further away from what was once one of the strongest brands in Russia –giving an impression that consumers felt “Apple doesn’t give a damn about it” when it came to current events playing out between Ukraine and Russia.
Apple’s perceived innovation in Russia
For many Russians, Apple has come to represent innovation and a focus on quality. The company’s products are highly valued for their style and design, and many believe that Apple is a company that cares deeply about its customers. The addition of Russian-language support in their software products, as well as their commitment to giving back to the local community, have been applauded by consumers.
The perception of Apple within Russia has also been greatly affected by souring international relations between Russia and Europe over the past few years. As part of this reaction in Russia, Apple products have come under fire in the press for being perceived as being symbolically linked with Europe’s seemingly anti-Russia stance. While this has led to a slight drop in sales of Apple products in the country compared to other multinationals operating there, it hasn’t hit Apple’s overall brand standing too hard yet.
Despite some Russian commentators suggesting that Apple doesn’t ‘give a damn’ about what happens with regard to the ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine, most customers don’t take it personally or feel slighted by any actions taken by the company abroad; they simply view them as business decisions designed to protect their own interests in such unstable times. In other words, while there may be some bumps ahead for iPhone or Mac owners wishing to buy warranty replacement services or new devices manufactured abroad – they don’t necessarily hold it against Apple itself and still maintain an overall positive opinion of the brand locally.
Impact of Russia’s Annexation of Crimea
Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 has had a major impact on Apple’s brand in the region. Since then, Apple has seen a decline in sales and market share in Russia, with many customers citing a lack of trust in the company due to its perceived lack of response to the annexation. The phrase ‘Apple doesn’t give a damn’ that Russia stole Ukraine’s heart has been used to express customers’ dissatisfaction with the company’s perceived inaction.
In this article, we will discuss the current state of Apple’s brand in Russia and how it has been affected by the annexation of Crimea.
Impact on Apple’s brand perception
The annexation of Crimea by Russia had a detrimental effect on Apple’s brand perception in Russia. Prior to the incident, Apple products were beloved by many in Russia and were seen as a high-end product synonymous with success and affluence. However, Apple’s perceived closeness with the US government caused them to be viewed unfavorably by Russians following the annexation.
This was compounded by some seemingly careless comments made by Apples CEO Tim Cook when asked about the event in 2015. Cook simply “declined to comment” on the matter, sparking concerns that Apple “doesn’t give a damn” when it comes to geopolitical turmoil in Eastern Europe and its effects on Russian consumers.
This has had lasting consequences for Apple’s brand perception within Russia. GroupInTheMarket’s Tomos Jacobson notes that “Apple’s market share among Russian smartphone customers has fallen drastically; in 2013 they accounted for 16 percent but only 2 percent of sales this year”. As such, there are now fewer people willing to purchase their products due to unfavorable sentiments towards them imposed by Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Impact on Apple’s sales in Russia
Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 caused a significant drop in the popularity of Apple products in the region. In response to the crisis, people boycotted Apple and other companies doing business with Russia, resulting in a sharp decline in sales. In fact, many companies saw their sales figures fall by up to 50%.
The situation prompted Apple to take a strong stance on supporting Ukraine over Russia. This move earned them support from Ukrainians while alienating many Russians who still strongly supported Vladimir Putin. The dispute also negatively impacted their retail chain and brand appeal among Russian consumers.
In the long-term, Apple’s dispute with Russia has been costly for their business operations there. Data reported by Euromonitor showed that smartphone sales fell significantly after the annexation and have continued to remain low ever since. This has even led some analysts to label Apple as “irrelevant” in Russia since they no longer lead the smartphone market like they do elsewhere around the world.
Overall, it’s safe to say that Russia’s annexation of Crimea had a major impact on Apple’s brand and sales in Russia which is still felt today despite attempts by the company to rebuild ties with consumers there.