Apple micro-stores at Target and Walmart: Compromising the brand?

Lots of discussion (on RetailWire) about Apple’s plans to expand its footprint inside Target and Walmart with “mini-stores,” not just product. I feel that the short-term benefits have some risks to Apple’s carefully polished brand position:

Two very different issues at play here: There is no question that Apple micro-stores within Target and Walmart are good for both retailers, and give both of them added credibility in the consumer electronics business. It also provides yet another threat to the Best Buy business model.

But the other side of the coin is the potential damage to the Apple brand itself. It has taken years for the Apple Store (and the product development behind it) to build priceless brand equity around innovation, premium pricing and customer service. If the Apple Store “experience” isn’t duplicated in your neighborhood Walmart, the risk may exceed the payback over the long run.

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