BEHIND THE STRATEGY; APPLE STEADIES LANCE FOR CONTINENTAL JOUST

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PARIS-Apple Europe President Marco Landi arrived on the job with a daunting challenge awaiting him. His tasks, the 52-year-old Mr. Landi said, are to transform the company into a truly European operation, position it to exploit fully the anticipated explosion in consumer PC sales, and power Apple past its competition on the Continent.

"As I tell the people I meet during my European travels," Mr. Landi smiled, "we are not playing to participate in Europe; we are playing to win."

The game Mr. Landi is playing is one of very high stakes, with European consumers soon expected to start buying heavily into computers for home use, as Americans and Britons began doing over the past two years. The margin for growth is significant. In France, for example, fewer than 10% of households are equipped with computers and modems-vs. more than 40% in the U.S. With Apple's European market share equaling its 10% stake worldwide, Mr. Landi has his work cut out for him in propelling the company to the head of the pack.

But Apple Europe officials obviously think Mr. Landi and his proven experience as a European manager are up to the task. When he was selected in February to replace retiring President Soren Olsson, one of Mr. Landi's main accomplishments was turning U.S. company Texas Instruments into a European-thinking, then Asian-minded, and ultimately global-looking entity.

"Apple wants to become a truly global company, and to do that you need people with global experience who can bring together the world view with the regional and local perspective that are important to outlets and consumers," the energetic Mr. Landi noted.

"I think people looked at my experience in building TI up in Europe by using a strong marketing organization that exploited big European opportunities and said, `Apple could use this guy.'*"

Mr. Landi is also bringing along another lesson learned at TI: that as much as consumers want high-performing products, they also want full system solutions to their problems and needs. To provide this, Mr. Landi says he has revamped Apple's marketing, distribution and sales structure to better respond to and fulfill diverse customer needs. His goal, he says, is to get employees-from managers to sales people-to identify as well as anticipate customer demands in the various sectors, and to command full knowledge of the Apple product line so they can offer consumers tailored system solutions.

Perhaps the greatest attention is being directed toward a consumer market boom expected toward the end of the year. While Mr. Landi says Apple Europe will continue to concentrate on some of its stronger specialized sectors-such as publishing, communications and education, where it commands from 30% to 35% of the market-he says the company must become a major player in the awakening consumer sector.

"You have to keep these specialized bases. But now we must focus on the main growth sectors, and home use above all," Mr. Landi said. "We have a specialized consumer unit already operating whose responsibility is to transfer Apple's American success to Europe as the surge in consumer demand here mounts."

Mr. Landi says that Apple Europe will rev up its thus-far limited marketing effort to the European consumer with a major push just before Christmas. The company's undisclosed marketing and ad budgets-both handled worldwide by BBDO-will be significantly augmented with new funds for marketing to families. Those campaigns, he said, will carry several messages-one being that American-origin Apple has the best products for European users.

"It is simply not enough to sell American products to Europeans," he stressed. "You need to have the system solutions to answer specific European needs."

Another effort will be to distinguish Apple products as the only alternative for consumers reeling from the Windows 95 media blitz and the extra-powerful computers required to run Windows 95.

"Apple is different-it stands out from a competition trying to cash in on the Windows hype," he said.

Or, as Frank Pastor, Apple Europe group account director for CLM/BBDO in Paris, puts it: "Windows was in large part an attempt by the competition to become ever more Apple-like. We're going to remind people that Apple is the original the others are seeking to imitate."

And in presenting itself to European families as having the answers they need, Apple will also turn to some of its tried and tested marketing messages.

"The strategy may be slightly different than in the past, but the message will be an Apple message: Apple is the easiest computer in the world to use, and it has the range to provide you with a complete answer to your problem," Mr. Landi says. "And now, with full PC program compatibility, it gives you the best of all worlds. It's more than just a computer, and is the only one of its kind."

To win the race for the consumer's heart, however, Mr. Landi knows that Apple must establish an appealing reputation with European users early on, or else risk losing precious ground to formidable competitors like Compaq, IBM, Toshiba and Olivetti.

"My major concern is being able to communicate well to families," Mr. Landi says. "We must give them the right message, the message that makes them more enthusiastic over the idea of using a Mac than anything else. But we are going to have to do it right, make no mistakes, because this is uncharted land. We are going to have to use all our skill, intelligence and capacity to establish this relationship with families, because they are the ones who will determine whether we are successful or not."

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