Last week we ran a study looking at a variety of Apple Services, some launched and some launching soon. With details and public reports about Apple Card out, we thought including Apple Card in the study would be useful. The goal was to understand better who was interested and why or why not.
Before diving into the results, it’s helpful to know why I charted specific segments of respondents the way I did. Having done primary research for many years now, I’ve always found it more helpful to dig into how segments of a market respond to our questions rather than only look at the top-line results. I’ve broken out our data by three segments for this purpose. The first is a dedicated panel of highly engaged Apple customers we call the Apple Core. This group is more engaged in the Apple ecosystem, has more Apple devices, and spends more money in Apple’s ecosystem than your average Apple customer. The other group is early tech adopters, which we create based on profiling questions answered at the beginning of the survey. The last group is your average Apple customers, a segment I named Mainstream iOS.
Seeing the differences between the three segments was fascinating. My early thought was the Apple Core would be more interested and more likely to want to apply for Apple Card immediately and sign up for Apple services. I was wrong, and upon further investigation, this deeply engaged customer in Apple’s ecosystem is also one of the more skeptical, informed, and intentional in the reasons they want things from Apple or not. As you can see from the chart below, the category of early adopters was the group that had more interest in Apple Card.
Throughout this survey as a whole, seeing how the Mainstream iOS segment responded was very telling. In most cases, this segment proved to be an extremely hard sell for Apple. Not only were most not aware of pretty much every Apple service we tested, but interest was also severely low among those who were aware. This makes a broad point for Apple that marketing these services will be the challenge but also the opportunity. Luckily we all know Apple is as good as any company at marketing to consumers and creating demand. Which, will make tracking the adoption of their services fascinating because if we see slow to low uptake of certain Apple services over time, it will say more about the service in my opinion than Apple’s ability to market them.
When we dug into the features that most interested consumer about Apple Card, a few things stood out. First, note for this chart, I isolated answers to those who were aware of Apple Card meaning I took out the responses from consumers who said they had not heard about Apple Card.
Tim Cook’s brief tweet on the day of the Apple Card launch emphasized Apple building this card with security and privacy at the forefront. For Apple most engaged customers, as well as those more early adopter consumers, Apple’s message of privacy and security with Apple Card resonates. Quite interestingly, Mainstream iOS customers are less swayed by the privacy and security aspect and more on Cashback, no fees, and low interest. This chart brings some clarity to some of the different priorities and mindsets that exist between the largest group of Apple customers worldwide, being a more mainstream consumer.
For those who were not interested in Apple Card, we looked at the reasons why as you can see the answers varied. Most people just aren’t interested in another credit card. Which is reasonable; however, I also take this point as one where Apple’s marketing challenge and product opportunity is clear. We can speculate that the more a consumer users Apple Pay, and even Apple Pay cash, the more opportunity there is to bring that consumer to adopt Apple Card. But, with nearly 30% of Mainstream iOS customers indicating they still aren’t comfortable putting their credit card information on their smartphone, the barrier to smartphone-based contactless payments is still high. While this study did not focus on penetration and usage of mobile contactless payments, we have done studies in the past, and I’ve read recent reports that support most consumers in the US are still not using a mobile wallet of any kind yet.
The last point here is also a broad one of Apple’s services and product rollouts. While the US is the second-largest market for Apple by device installed base, China being the first, the US is Apple’s largest market by revenue. It makes sense they roll products or services out in the US first in most cases. But the key for services growth will be available in all regions and generally sooner than later is better. A large portion of early adopters in our research panel indicated Apple Card not being available in their region as a core reason for lack of interest. This sentiment is likely consistent with other Apple Services like Apple TV+, for example, where consumers may have a desire for it at some point but not being available in their region means they don’t put much mental effort into figuring out if they want or not yet.
We have plans to follow this survey up later in the fall once we know we can get a critical mass of respondents who have tried Apple’s newest services like Apple Card, AppleTV+, and Apple Arcade and dig deeper into what people like and don’t like and why. But for now, this study serves as a baseline for us to build upon but also highlights how marketing will be one of the bigger challenges for Apple. But when it comes to Apple Card, the media excitement and buzz has been interesting to see. There have been YouTube unboxing, and pictures of people’s cards as well as videos of the truly fantastic setup process. Apple Card is easily the most talked-about and buzz-worthy credit card to ever be released, and so from a marketing standpoint, it seems off to a good start.