updated 10:50 am EDT, Tue May 19, 2009
MS PC Ads May be Working
Microsoft's Laptop Hunters ads may be hurting Apple's image, according to new data from BrandIndex. Looking at the perceived value for money of Apple and Microsoft brands, the research shows Apple dropping from a peak in February and March to well below Microsoft by mid-May. In contrast, Microsoft itself climbed from a score of 0 near the start of 2009 to 46, or much higher than Apple's current 12.
The analysts, who studied 5,000 people, argue that the difference is fueled as much by Microsoft's ads as the economy. Although most of the study occurred when people were already scaling back their spending, BrandIndex notes that Apple was doing well even in September, when the full weight of the US economic collapse became apparent. Much of the decline is attributed to the younger 18-to-34 group, which is more likely to be especially sensitive to price but was also the most apt to respond to Apple in the past.
"Apple did a great job of putting Microsoft on the defensive," BrandIndex global managing director Ted Marzilli says. "It made them look old, stodgy, complicated to use and unhip. But Microsoft has started to hit back, and younger folks are more cost- or value-focused."
Although Apple was also dealt a blow with those aged 35 and higher, the data has Apple regaining its lead over Microsoft for those between 35 and 49 and sitting roughly even with Microsoft for those 50 or older.
The overall effect is nonetheless a minor victory for Microsoft, which has been battered since 2007 due to both Windows Vista and Apple's own success at portraying itself as worth a higher price. It's not known whether the brand perception will translate to improved sales, however. Mac sales will potentially decline year-over-year, but Microsoft has also seen a rare revenue drop of its own during the winter that was owed both to struggling Windows sales as well as a shift towards Windows XP on netbooks, which Microsoft deliberately underprices to head off competition from Linux.
The study also concluded just before Apple's newest ad campaign, which specifically responded to the Laptop Hunters ads and portrayed Windows having many poor choices. [via AdAge]