The 'Graying Of Apple': Fans Getting Older, But Loyalty High

Aug.13.12 | About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

I was one of the first to get the original Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad when it was introduced back in April 2010, and it was cool - really cool. Everyone wanted to see it. And I'm betting at least half a dozen people I showed it to got online or hightailed it down to their local Apple store to get one within a month or so.

Now that lots more people have iPads, mine isn't so super cool anymore. But that's okay. I'm just growing old according to Jason Gilbert's Huffington Post article noting that "Apple Fans Are Getting Old"

Apple has long been thought of -- and positioned itself as -- the cool and trendy computer company, the tech outlet of choice for the young and the hip.

But is it losing its edge with the kids?

A new survey from YouGov BrandIndex suggests just that. In recent polls across all demographics in America, YouGov found that since January 2008, Apple has become far more appealing to adults aged 35 and older, while its appeal to those 18-34 has decreased slightly.

Jason shows a chart of Apple's "BuzzScore," as calculated by consumer research company YouGov.

Click to enlarge

(Source: YouGov)

You can see a definite downtrend in "buzz" among the 18-34 crowd. From YouGov's own YouGov, here's how you interpret the chart:

Apple was measured with YouGov BrandIndex's Buzz score, which asks "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?" All results were filtered for adults 18 - 34 and all adults 35 and over. YouGov BrandIndex measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.

As Jason noted, low buzz scores aren't an expression of disapproval. It's just that:

Apple has been the fashionable choice of in-the-know young folks for so many years now that its standing was bound to slip at some point. Nothing gold can stay, as a poet once wrote.

Are we seeing a graying of Apple fans? It's possible! Just as some teens are loath to join the social networks that their parents populate, so too is it possible that they might not think "cool" the gadgets and brands that their parents do. (Do kids still use the word "cool?")

If Apple fans are "graying," it certainly hasn't hurt the stock price. After all, in the 4+ years shown on YouGov's chart, Apple shares have more than tripled in value. And gray hair or not, I still see huge crowds in the Apple store buying iPads, iPhones, and Macs.

* * *

Brand loyalty remains high

While poking around on YouGov's site, I noticed another interesting tidbit - some survey data on Apple's YouGov.

I'm afraid I have both good news and bad news on this front.

The bad news? Apple customers keep their iPhones longer than other handset owners.

For example, survey data shows that 14% of Apple iPhone owners plan to wait at least two years before they get another phone, but only 6% of BlackBerry owners plan to wait that long. For Samsung handset owners, 12% plan to wait at least two years.

But the good news is that out of those planning to buy a phone in the next six months, 88% of Apple owners say they will purchase another Apple phone. Compare that to the only 30% of BlackBerry owners who plan to purchase another BlackBerry.

Click to enlarge

(Source: YouGov)

So I don't think Apple shareholders need to worry too much that the over-35 crowd makes Apple less cool to those under 35. After all, older people are creatures of habit - and are likely to stick with Apple products in the years ahead.

Disclosure: I am long AAPL.