That Microsoft, as a consumer technology brand, was ranked ahead of Apple in a recent Forrester Research consumer “brand” survey likely comes as a surprise. In August 2013, Forrester surveyed 4,551 U.S. online adults about their impressions of technology brands.
The survey purports to measure is brand’s resonance: the emotional connection a customer has with a brand. In what Forrester Research calls a “surprise,” Microsoft trumped Apple and Samsung in the brand rankings.
Microsoft also was the only brand in the survey to achieve the “trailblazer” status, indicating the brand is “at the forefront of brand building with a unique and distinct brand identity that sets it apart from other brands.”
All three brands (Apple, Samsung, Microsoft) were seen as “innovative” by consumers, so what sets Microsoft apart? Generational responses, it appears.
While Apple and Samsung tended to rank higher among Millennial respondents, Microsoft has become more trusted and essential across multiple generations of respondents.
The very ubiquity that perhaps renders Microsoft “uncool” turns out to also be its strength,” according to Tracy Stokes, Forrester Research analyst. “We were surprised by the results, too," said Stokes. One possible explanation: lots of people use Microsoft Office and Windows-driven PCs.
While businesses and consumers still consider Apple to have fine products that are of high quality, they think Microsoft products are essential for their personal and professional needs.
The survey should remind us all that what technology enthusiasts and industry analysts think is important and valuable might not always be what the mass market end user thinks is similarly important and valuable.
The survey also likely points out a generational difference. It is hard to imagine younger users producing the same ranking. One might also suspect the results could change, over time.
The Forrester Research survey suggests the large number of end users familiar with Microsoft products at home and work influenced the rankings. So Apple’s increasing presence in the business environment could have an impact.
Apple won about eight percent of global business and government spending on computers and tablets in 2012, Forrester Research says, up from one percent in 2009. By 2015, Forrester estimates that figure will climb to 11 percent.
The iPhone, which might be the most widely purchased Apple product in a business context, likely is driving the trend.
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