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Study: iPhone ads appeal to younger generations, but ‘confuse’ older generations

Apple is well known for its powerful advertising. Dating back to the 1984 Super Bowl ad, the Think Different campaign of the 1990s, and the Get a Mac campaign of the 2000s, the company’s ads have been hailed as revolutionary. But Apple’s most recent iPhone ads are a big departure in both tone and focus.

To measure the impact the ads have on consumer sentiment and preference, UserTesting, an on-demand human insights platform, published the 2018 CX Study: Apple iPhone Ads. The report captures the reactions of 200 iPhone (iOS) and Android customers—broken into Gen Z (18-25) versus Baby Boomers (55+) age groups—to three recent iPhone ads: Sticker Fight, Unlock, and Fly Market.

“The new iPhone ads feature confusing situations, fast cuts, and saturated colors,” says Michael Mace, vice president of Product Marketing at UserTesting. “There’s no question that Apple is thinking different again, but this time it’s not clear what the company is intending. By capturing real human insights, UserTesting set out to uncover why.”

Key findings from the report:

iPhone ads are designed for young people/kids. Many iOS and Android customers in the Boomer age group felt the ads weren’t aimed at them, but rather at a much younger audience—possibly even younger than Gen Z. Boomers called them “silly” and “chaotic.” Even Android customers in the Gen Z age group were more open to the ad content.

Brand loyalty starts… at birth? Interest in the iPhone ads or in purchasing an iPhone after viewing an ad strictly followed brand loyalties. Android customers of any age were less likely to be interested in the iPhone ads and features, while iOS customers across age groups showed significantly more interest. Most customers expressed a strong preference for the devices they currently own.

For Boomers, the ads conjured up science fiction fears. Apple’s face recognition technology created discomfort and concerns with privacy and security among many older customers. For some, it conjured up fears like being tracked by ads on the subway (à la Minority Report).

“Apple’s age-based approach to iPhone marketing appears to be paying off,” says Mace. “In a 2018 survey, Piper Jaffray found 84% of U.S. teens expect to get an iPhone as their next phone, up from 65% in 2014. Because smartphone brand loyalty starts early and is difficult to change, it’s likely that Apple is actually trying

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.