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Consumer Behavior Theory Analysis Apple ‘Get a Mac’ Case Study


Consumer behavior refers to the psychological analysis of how people make purchasing decisions, including their motivating factors. Through consumer behavior analysis, a brand can understand the consumers feeling towards their product or service offering, their motivating factors, environmental factors in consumers’ immediate environment that influence their buying behavior, and consumer decision making either in groups or as individuals. According to a Salesforce report, nearly 75 percent of consumers anticipate businesses to comprehend their needs and expectations (Team, 2020). Successful companies like Apple use consumer behavior insights to create a basis for their marketing strategies. Companies stand to benefit from consumer behavior insights in numerous ways. One, businesses can perform consumer differentiation. Other benefits include more customer retention, and businesses can design appropriate marketing campaigns, predict market trends, innovate new products, and retain competition (J Paul Peter & Olson, 2010). This research will focus on consumer behavior theories applied to the ‘Get a Mac’ Apple campaign. We will critically analyze the consumer behavior theories applied in the case study, analyze the campaign’s target audience, and then provide recommendations for improvements using our research findings. This aims to appreciate and comprehend the significant role consumer behavior insights play in businesses today.

Campaign Background

The marketing campaign ‘Get a Mac’ aimed to revitalize Apple’s Mac sales in 2005 while they were in decline. This campaign was universally regarded as successful, but many people can still recall it over a decade after it ended. The first “Get-A-Mac” ad was aired on May 6, 2006, by Apple (, n.d.). TBWA/Chiat/Day, the advertising agency behind the “Get-A-Mac” campaign, produced 19 advertisements in the first year. Phil Morrison had already directed 66 commercials within the first four years of the campaign (Livingstone, 2011). A succession of ads featuring John Hodgman as “P.C.” and Justin Long as “Mac” was part of the campaign. The two personas portrayed and described themselves like the gadget they were representing. Mac was a younger, more casually dressed character who represented Steve Jobs and spoke about why he was superior to “P.C.” He sees himself as a crafted, good-natured man who could do anything. Bill Gates’ character, “P.C.,” was an elderly, geeky-looking actor portraying the Microsoft CEO, who could not protect himself against “Mac.” He describes himself as an unmotivated, stoic individual. “P.C.” constantly humiliates himself when contrasted to “Mac” in each ad, which is a discussion between them.

If you had to extract the core theme that runs throughout the campaign program, it would be: “P.C.s have numerous problems and pain; they are challenging to use, unreliable, and subject to malware. Macs are simple, safe, reliable, and competent. These P.C. troubles will end if you move to Mac.” These ads are probably generated by Apple’s internal surveys that outline the biggest concerns regarding P.C.s (Rhoads, 2007).

Target Audience

To reach the typical individual unfamiliar with technology, software, or infections, the corporation employs a method known as “oversimplification,” which makes things seem to be very easy. The swing customers, or the ordinary home P.C. user, were the intended demographic for this campaign, rather than tech-savvy geeks who would be more knowledgeable about viruses and malware. Additionally, this target group is not required to contemplate relinquishing difficult-earned, platform-specific knowledge to switch platforms. The target demographic had never considered buying a Macintosh computer until this promotion. The loyal P.C. users were irritated by this campaign, and like any other marketing campaign, the brand got a backlash during the process (Rhoads, 2007). However, the campaign was still a success and fulfilled the intended goal.

Consumer Behavior Theories

The marketer’s knowledge of customer behavior is critical to the effectiveness of the marketing strategy. According to research, while analyzing theories of human behavior, it’s crucial to remember that the theories provided are just a partial representation of people and that various models may be applicable for different marketing circumstances (Runyon and Stewart, 1987). Regardless of the viewpoint mentioned above, theories of human behavior give essential input into consumer behavior since they aim to explain why humans, and hence customers, rationalize buying choices. This research will look at the consumer behavior theories evident in Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign.

Perception Theories

Perception is a psychological element engaged in the buying decision process known to impact customer behavior. The perceptual process contains three components: selection, organization, and interpretation. Perceptual selection is the initial step of perception that includes customers being subjected to marketing impulses and then addressing them. Selective perception is how people view what they want in mass communication and reject the rest.

According to the perceptual organizing process, humans do not perceive all the stimuli they pick as independent and discrete experiences. They rather structure this input into groups and experience it as a coherent whole (A, 2019). This type of perceptual organizing helps humans to see life more simply. People are inclined to interpret the significance of what they selectively observe and structure it based on their ideas about the stimulus. This perception of the sensations will rely on what the person expects to perceive in the light of his past encounters, instincts, data gathered, motivations, and interests at the moment of perception. Attack commercials may create an ugly image in the viewer’s brand image. It’s very simple for firms to come across as pompous or arrogant mistakenly and far simpler for the business they are criticizing to act like a victim in any form of reaction. Apple deliberately opted to depict itself — via Justin Long’s persona — as the mediator and not the aggressor. The commercial named Counselor in the Get a Mac campaign is a wonderful example. This was a wonderful technique for Apple, which aggressively went against P.C. in these T.V. advertisements, yet came out as gentle, serene, and kind in the circumstance (iMore, 2020). Apple employed this form of advertising over the Get a Mac campaign and even ingeniously threw on additional ad messages to the obscenities that Hodgman would mention.

Decision-Making Theories

This consumer behavioral theory examines the connection between advertisements and customers’ sentiments about their purchase choices. This idea explains individual purchasing behavior over time. According to the decision-making theory, consumers engage in actions that they think will produce or get a certain consequence, whether known or unfamiliar (Needle, 2021). As a result, the logical decision is the primary motivator for customers to buy. A consumer may only perform a certain action if they think that the activity will result in a specific desired outcome. This has led to several conclusions the first is that a purchase must be linked to a particular favorable outcome. Customers undergo a five-stage decision process before getting a product or service, as per the Engel-Kollat-Blackwell framework of consumer behavior. Awareness is the first phase, followed by information processing, appraisal, purchase choices, and result analysis are the stages involved. The commercials’ self-portrayed qualities of the ‘Mac’ persona represented how buying a Mac computer would minimize problems such as virus attacks and make it easier for consumers to use. The ‘Get A Mac’ ad encapsulates the many phases of decision-making. Because the commercials contrast the two characters ‘ P.C.’ and ‘Mac,’ you may deduce the concepts the ads were attempting to convey, namely that the ‘Mac’ was a simple, reliable, and competent item that the target population would buy (Foxall, 2017).

Social Theories

The common factor in most social theories is that they reflect how social factors can influence a consumer’s behavior. Groups and individuals influence each other via culture, reference groups, and socioeconomic status. Since we learn about lifestyles, what is valuable, and how to conduct ourselves in society via culture, it has a huge impact on an individuals’ wants and needs. Marketing campaigns targeting individuals with a common cultural basis might show how services or products promote these values (Niosi, n.d.). The common elements that individuals of a culture share include their beliefs, values, and practices. Social class influences consumer behavior similarly to culture by changing people’s views of their needs and desires. People from the same socioeconomic class have comparable views, live in similar areas, go to the same schools, possess similar fashion choices, and buy at businesses in the same industry. Reference groups can be informal or formal. The individuals and organizations with whom a person has a personal or professional relationship might influence their purchasing decisions. A slogan like “Get a Mac” appeals to our post-industrial egos, who would want to think that class, race, and gender problems were fully settled in the 1960s and 1970s. The myth in these commercials tells us that becoming this person—becoming Mac—is simple and uncomplicated; it’s a fiction that supports the prevalent “classless-society” theory while obscuring the social difficulties such personalized marketing would need to overcome (Anon, n.d.). The target audience of the ‘Get a mac’ campaign also belongs to one reference group—those who are not tech-savvy but rather the common P.C. user.

Attitude Theories

Consumers’ beliefs might be favorable or unfavorable towards a product. Human beliefs are inaccurate and subject to change. Consumers have strong sentiments towards some items or brands. These sentiments might be founded on beliefs or not. The ‘Get a Mac’ ad presents the Mac as superior to the ‘P.C.’ in use and security. The goal is to persuade consumers that Mac is the superior product. Consumers’ behavior intentions reflect their plans for items. This is not always the case. Attitudes have theories that have numerous functions (Francis, 2015). These attitudes help individuals adapt to the new environment. Presumptions are established to preserve the ego. We all care about our image; thus, a product that boosts our ego is the focus of such an attitude. Our culture and training teach us values. Our values motivate or dissuade us from buying particular goods.

The tri-component approach divides attitude into three parts. The first component is cognitive. An individual has gained information on items or services from an individual perspective or data from numerous sources. This understanding frequently leads to consumer perceptions and behaviors. The second half is the dynamic component of sentiments and emotions about a brand or product. They use them as the main evaluative criteria. Consumers’ attitudes are influenced by their state of mind, such as melancholy, happiness, rage, or tension. The fourth component is the conative component, a person’s intention or inclination to buy a thing. It typically refers to the person’s actions or intentions.

Consumer Behavior Theories Applicable to the Campaign

The ‘Get a Mac’ campaign utilized multiple consumer theories to enhance brand loyalty and politicize consumer culture. The campaign won the Grand Effie award in 2007, and Adweek named it the ad campaign of the decade. In Apple’s marketing effort, attitudes theories are visible. Apple’s manner of communication inspires trust, confidence, and a shared set of ideals in its customers, encouraging them to buy from the firm. The “how” refers to the steps taken by a business to make its principles a reality. Results, such as how services and goods are marketed and how the company’s culture is reflected in its workers and customers (About Apple | iGotOffer, 2016). By using effective marketing techniques, the company ensures that its products meet the needs of its customers. Consumers’ favorable perceptions of Apple are heavily influenced by the company’s shared values and their personal experiences with its products and services. The ‘Mac’ persona is presented in the campaign’s advertising as a simpler, safer, and superior product. The ‘Get a Mac’ ad perfectly illustrates beliefs on how society influences consumer behavior.

As we near the conclusion of the semester, we look to Mac as our role model, as he floats about the post-industrial world with an attitude of perpetual laziness, natural creativity, and a rare need to labor. Being at ease in his skin, he has no fear of disease (viruses), adjustments in his personal or professional life (O.S. updates), or excessive workload (multi-tasking). When it comes to Justin Long’s Mac, it’s all because of the notion that he doesn’t have to “work” at everything, not even work.

John Hodgman’s PC, the overweight, drab-clothed, lower-to-middle management character visibly ungainly outside the work arena, is his adversary in the 66 television commercials and 12 banner advertising made for the U.S. promotion (Anon, n.d). In ads such as “Work vs. Home” and “Meant for Work,” P.C. is identified by task and feels awkward, inept, or ignorant while dealing with social and domestic parts of life. Although “Get a Mac” plays on our anxieties about what being middle-class implies for the American spirit, it does it lightheartedly, enabling us to laugh at the anguish, resentment, and despair that come with this social status. The existence of Mac allays these anxieties since he offers an ideal and a way out of the complexities of our everyday life, rather than just a stereotype.

Perception theory has been used in the campaign in several campaign ads. Nevertheless, Apple isn’t the first firm to use the perception theory since personifying a product or service is a common marketing strategy for creating a certain perception in customers’ minds. But they were the first Apple commercials to personify the Mac, and by implication, the brand, in such a personable and well-crafted way (iMore, 2020). At the same time, these advertisements were undoubtedly a clear contrast between Mac and Windows, notably in the campaign’s later T.V. ads. The holiday ad entitled Goodwill was a perfect example of how Apple incorporated the perception of Macs belonging to young, creative professionals who were paving the way for the new media.

Evaluation of Campaign Effectiveness and Rationale

Mac sales did not only increase in 2006, the year the advertisements were first shown, but also the commercials’ ability to continue to be seen ten years after they were the first broadcast is enough evidence of their effectiveness. Adweek named the ‘Get a Mac’ campaign the Ad of the Century, an honor shared by many other publications. Furthermore, Apple produced 66 distinct television commercials for the Get a Mac campaign over three years, and firms do not run campaigns that do not produce results. Sales of Mac computers jumped by 12 percent within the first quarter of the promotion, which began immediately after a few advertisements were shown. By the end of 2006, Apple had raised its sales by 39 percent over the previous year, selling an unprecedented 1.6 million Macs. Throughout the four-year promotion, Apple’s sales grew by a significant margin. According to the company, Apple had made sales of over 2.3 million Macs during the campaign’s last quarter (, n.d.). The campaign came to an end after a series of 66 tv commercials were produced in the United States, but the campaign was extended to foreign markets in the U.K. The actors in the United Kingdom version of “Get-A-Mac” were performed by actors Robert Webb and David Mitchell. Apple’s last “Get-a-Mac” television advertisement aired in October 2009. However, the innovative marketing campaign was not yet complete. On May 21, 2010, Apple eventually updated its “Get-A-Mac” website with a “Why you’ll love a Mac” page, which was formerly known as “Get-A-Mac.” As soon as the iPhone was released, Apple shifted its emphasis to promoting the smartphone, launching a campaign, and showing iPhone ads.

When it comes to increasing sales, Apple’s “Get-A-Mac” campaign was a huge success, resulting in a significant rise in revenue. Apple used a straightforward, hilarious method to capture the attention of its target demographic, and it was successful. People were encouraged to watch advertisements on television, find them online, and show them to their friends as part of the campaign. The advertisements demonstrated that Apple is the superior product in a fun and understandable manner. Apple-made Macs seem to be the latest, coolest, most up-to-date device, but PICs appear old, with several faults and difficulties (Zoeller, 2019). Ultimately, the aim was to persuade P.C. customers to move to the Mac, which is precisely what was done. Apple surpassed all previous sales records, achieving unprecedented success. The campaign was proven to be incredibly efficient in reaching the intended demographic. Today, it is regarded as one of the finest advertising campaigns of the decade it was launched. The consumer behavior theory concept applied in the marketing campaign also significantly contributed to its success.

Recommendations for Improvement

Consumer behavior theories are useful in identifying unmet customer requirements and desires to analyze market opportunities. This necessitates an examination of the Marketplace’s relationships and circumstances and the consumer’s lifestyle, economic status, and energy impacts. This might suggest unmet needs and desires (Xiao, Ford, and Kim, 2011). A firm may use consumer behavior theory to study customer behavior throughout the purchase process and what buyers perceive your brand against a competitor’s. Apple can determine what marketing messages to employ in its marketing efforts by analyzing consumer behavior theories. Understanding the many purchasing decisions and their relations to the target demographic and consumer personas can assist businesses in developing engaging advertising messages, enticing packaging, the appropriate pricing models, discounts, and offers to entice customers. There were fewer consumer behavior theories regarding economic theories during Apple’s “Get A Mac” campaign. Motivational theories are a subset of economic theories.

Consumer behavior is heavily influenced by price. As a result, Apple’s marketing strategies should include economic theory. According to economic theories, consumer theory is a logical consumer who completely understands the market and utilizes it to get the most value for his money and labor. According to economic theories, consumers make purchases only for their benefit. The most powerful motivator is said to be price. Apple’s marketing staff might focus on incorporating learning theory elements into its advertisements. Learning is a psychological component in consumer marketing that may substantially impact a customer’s purchasing decision (iEduNote, 2020). Learning theory is divided into cognitivism, behaviorism, and constructivism. According to constructivism, learning is a procedure wherein the learner actively produces or implements innovative ideas.


Consumer behavior is an essential tool for marketing since it helps understand the thinking of buyers, their feeling, and decision-making processes and can help businesses identify the best approaches to marketing their commodities. Also, businesses understand and anticipate the needs of consumers. Businesses can create strong marketing strategies through understanding customer behavior. Each campaign can target a particular set of demographics based on their buying patterns. Consumer behavior theories have effectively been applied in the Apple ‘Get a Mac’ case study. The applicable consumer behavior theories are social influence theory, attitude theories, decision-making theory, and perception theory. The Apple ‘Get a Mac’ campaign was a great success, and the brand ever since has grown significantly. This case study is evidence of the significant impact consumer behavior can address.


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