Apple really doesn’t need a shopkeeper to lead its retail chain, it needs an evangelist

“The search for a new retail chief continues at Apple [AAPL], but perhaps the company is simply looking in the wrong direction: it doesn’t need a shopkeeper to run its retail stores, but a brand evangelist,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld.

“Ron Johnson left Apple to lead JC Penney. Johnson’s focus on building the brand’s identity displeased the [JC Penney] board, and he later lost his job,’ Evans writes. “The shop sought a shopkeeper, but Johnson was attempting to transform the shop into a part of life for ordinary Americans. In time his attempt may have succeeded, but JC Penney needed someone who could sell more stuff.”

Evans writes, “Johnson’s successor at Apple retail, ex-Dixons chief, John Browett, was a shopkeeper. His approach was all about shifting boxes and keeping staff costs lean. He fundamentally misunderstood the significance of Apple retail — these stores aren’t just stores; these stores are gathering points for the massed tribes of the Apple experience. In other words, the product that’s really on sale in these places is the social network, the lifestyle, a taste of the entire brand experience.”

Steve Jobs introduces Apple’s first retail store, July 18, 2001:

Much more in the full article here.

14 Comments

  1. Thank you Pundit Evans for another worthless opinion about what Apple should do from someone who has never managed a copany anything like Apple.

  2. I hate to say Evans this time is right. Apple should use some of their money to dramatically extend their retail stores. But they need somebody who can lead it.

  3. What irks me most about these morons pontificating on what Apple should do is their complete ignorance of what Apple is actually doing. They always appear to assume that Apple is thinking not only inside the box, but at the very center of the box. They never so much as entertain the possibility that Apple already knows everything they know and more.

    Arrogance and ignorance are a dangerous combination.

  4. Apple retail had started to loose it’s evangelical focus well before Johnson left. It may have been the growth of retail made them hire too quickly for regular staff as well as management. Too many hires with retail experience and not Apple experience. I know when I worked at one many of the later hires in sales but more disappointingly management had little or no Apple experience. I remember a new assistant manager who’s first Mac was the laptop he was given to use for the job. Whoever they get I hope they bring back that focus on the Apple experince.

  5. Someone obviously misses The Reality Distortion Field:
    “brand evangelist”
    “massed tribes”
    “the social network”
    “the lifestyle”
    the entire brand experience

    I have NEVER supported Apple for ANY of the above abstract marketing concepts.

    I love Apple because of what they CREATE: Integrated devices; Design; Utility; Longevity; Value; Customer support. I love the PRACTICAL Apple. Neglect not the fact that Apple gear really IS superior to nearly ALL the alternatives nearly ALL the time. 😀

    THEN put all your nebulous marketing frosting on top.

    IOW: As much as I love the frosting, the foundation is THE CAKE.

  6. he’s right. Tim is great, and will do great, but people worshipped Steve. more than any other part of Apple the retail segment needs someone to worship. Ron should come back or else hire some nobody with all the right ideas.
    ~jason

    1. No, we don’t want Ron Johnson back. He’s gone. Goodbye. You don’t bring back someone who has failed like that. I don’t know if he was solely responsible for the success of the Apple retail stores or not? Maybe? Having someone in charge of the retail stores with a dynamic personality wouldn’t hurt. How could it? There was no need before because you already had someone running the company with a bit of a dynamic personality. Clearly it would be nice to have “that person” out in front once in a while. No matter where they work at Apple. Those who already own Apple products don’t need to be sold. It’s all those others on the dark side.

      1. Failed? You talking about JC Penny? He didn’t really fail there, he wasn’t really given a chance to do his job. He did a great job at Apple and they should welcome him back.

        Not sure what your beef with him is?

        1. While I would agree with you in regards to JC Penny, I don’t think they should bring him back to Apple. Apple retail started to loose it’s shine when Steve was less in the picture and Johnson was being allowed to have more say. Before then every retail decision was run by Steve, Johnson couldn’t change the brand of toletpapper without approval. I really think he was given too much credit for the retail success.

  7. Recently, I bought an iPhone 4 at the Opera Apple Store in Paris. My sales rep was a German hearing impaired polyglot lip reader. I was awestruck at how Apple hired a guy like this. He smiled, he could read lips in German, French and English and if he missed something he had an iPad mini at the ready for you to dictate or type more clear instructions. It nearly brought tears to my eyes that in a city where image is everything and a pimple could keep you out of a chic restaurant that Apple hired this really talented young man. Then I heard a
    “pardon, monsieur” coming from closer to the ground and a sales rep in a built-for-maneuverability wheel chair sped past me to get a product for a customer. With inclusiveness like this demonstrated by Apple, how could someone believe that this company is just about looks, design and pretentiousness? My husband and I were REALLY impressed. I was never prouder to be a shareholder.

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