Apple: Way past cool

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If you were a celebrity, what household name corporation would you lend your grandeur to? According to trend watchers, many young people would choose Apple. It has become the corp of choice for the youth market, people 13 to 34 or so, because it is cool.

. . .Asked recently what company they would most like to endorse (if they were a celebrity), the correspondents nominated Apple the most popular choice, followed by Coca-Cola, Levi’s and Nike.

Look-Look also asked its network about “cool new gadgets.” Picture-taking cell phones topped the list, followed by the iPod and Sony’s PlayStation. But when it came to “extremely well-designed products,” Apple’s iMac and iPod were voted No. 1.

This fall, the iPod is the No. 2 “must have” item for the back-to-school season, right after new shoes, according to Look-Look’s August youth culture newsletter. A new computer or laptop comes third on the list, specifically an iMac or PowerMac G5.

Shoes and then an iPod? Is this a nation of privilege or what?

In addition to Look-Look, market researchers L Style Report and Youth Intelligence cite Apple as one of the most cool of nationally known companies.

Claire Brooks, executive research director of the Lambesis Research Group, which publishes the L Style Report, a quarterly tip sheet, also said Apple is mentioned consistently in its research.

“(Apple) is a core trendsetter brand,” she said. “It’s a lifestyle thing. Apple just comes up all the time.”

Like Look-Look, Lambesis maintains a network of in-the-field researchers, but concentrates on young people deemed trendsetters, or “urban pioneers.” Aged 15 to 34, though most are in their mid-20s, these trendsetters make the key brand choices that influence everyone else, Brooks said.

Barbara Coulon, vice president of trends at Youth Intelligence, a New York trend-forecasting firm, said the iPod is primarily responsible for Apple’s high profile among young people. Youth Intelligence also focuses on trendsetters, maintaining an online panel of about 1,000 trendsetters who are constantly quizzed about what’s hot and what’s not.

Apple is not the desert of the day to all trendsters. It is said to be too mainstream for the part of the market that is decidedly anti-corporate.

Note: A version of this entry appeared in my tech column at Mac-a-ro-nies.

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