Do People Really Buy Apple Products Because of Their Why?

apple think differentIn yesterday’s post, The Secret to the Success of Apple, MLK and the Wright Brothers, we kicked off a series discussing the revolutionary concept outlined in Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why:

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

While most organizations try to sell people on what they do, the truly inspiring leaders and organizations start with why and invite you to join their cause.   (It’s hard to boil an entire book and a concept this big, so read yesterday’s post if you haven’t already.)

If you’re not sold on the idea yet, you’re not alone.  It usually takes a bit of processing and discussion before a person buys into it.

Jay Guengerich, a friend of my from back in my Valpo days, is a good example. He posted an excellent comment challenging this idea:

I understand the main idea of the article, and it makes sense, but I disagree with one example. I don’t think most people who buy Apple products do so because they want to help Apple challenge the status quo. I think most people who buy Apple products do so because “it’s the cool thing to do” (status symbol) or because the products are the best fit for their requirements or because the products have a sleek design (artistic/engineering appreciation). Notice I said most, not all.

These are excellent points.

However, think about who considers Apple to be cool and why. It’s predominantly artists, musicians, innovators and younger people – people who “think different” and challenge the status quo. And they think Apple is cool because they share the same beliefs and mindset as Apple.

Chic-Fil-A fans think Chic-Fil-A is cool. Harley riders think Harley is cool. TOMS Shoes customers think TOMS is cool. People who walk 60 miles in 3 days to fight breast cancer think the Susan G. Komen Foundation is cool. The zealots at your church think your church is cool.

Cool = thinks like me.

I agree that sometimes people do buy Apple products because they are the best fit for the requirements (because of the “what.”) An organization’s “why” doesn’t resonate with everyone.

But in the book Sinek talks about how often we think we are buying “the what” – we may even give very rational reasons for why their “what” is best – but beneath the surface there are assumptions made and gut level biases. Part of the reason is because the part of our brain that makes decisions also the part that processes feelings and beliefs whereas rational thought takes place in another part of the brain. It’s quite fascinating!

Have you bought into the idea of starting with why yet?  If not, what objections do you have?

 

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

8 Responses to “Do People Really Buy Apple Products Because of Their Why?”

  1. I watched and considered the TED talk you posted yesterday, and I liked and resonated with a lot of what he talked about. I certainly think it's the case a lot of the time that people buy because image and emotion rather than pure specs of products. I've surely done it some in the past. And I certainly think the church needs to do a better job about appealing to the why. But I'm not sure I'm completely sold. There's still a need to educate on the what. We need to be rational and know the reasons we believe what we believe, rather than being a Christian just because it feels right.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jan 28, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Chris, I'm glad to hear you watched the TED talk and are thinking through the concepts.

      You wrote "a lot of the time that people buy because image and emotion rather than pure specs of products." Are you thinking "the why" = "image and emotion" whereas "the what" = "rational?" If so, I don't think that's quite accurate. Image is very superficial, but an organizations "why" – its purpose – is deep to the core. Image is about manipulating people's emotions, but starting with why is about connecting with people who share your mission. The end result of "starting with why" is a deep emotional connection with those who share a passion for your mission.

      While there is a strong emotional component to "the why," I don't think it's necessarily uninformed or irrational. I think it’s a matter of looking beyond “what’s in it for me” to a higher purpose. So, when it comes to the local church, I agree with you that it’s important to for people to understand the rationale behind the why. I’d like to go more in depth on this, so I’m going to write a blog post applying the “Start With Why” concepts specifically to the local church.

      Thanks for provoking more thought on this!

  2. Paul,

    Blog about Apple and I'll more than likely show up…

    When I first saw Simon's video on TED, I was blown away by this concept. I think his message has resonated with a lot of people. I've tried to wrap my head around it and incorporate it into my "purpose" for everything I do (blogging, marketing, sales training, etc.)

    I've taken Simon's idea and combined it with something Guy Kawasaki tells startups, that before you can make money, you have to "make meaning." He says there are 3 ways to do that:you do that:

    1. Increase the Quality of Life
    2. Right a Wrong
    3. Prevent the End of Something Good

    The 'About' page on my blog sums up what I came up with:
    http://www.johntabita.com/about/

    • PaulSteinbrueck Feb 5, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Thanks John, I'm glad to hear Sinek's TED talk resonated with you, and that you're working through how to apply it to your life and business. I think Kawasaki's principles correlate somewhat with Start With Why, but not entirely. If my why is simply to improve my clients' quality of life and help them succeed, then they will still evaluate buying my product or service based on their self-interest. I believe starting with why means inspiring people to join a cause that is bigger than oneself or one's clients.

      - If your purpose is to improve my standard of living, I might hire you but only out of self interest. If your purpose is to improve the standard of living in our community, I'll hire you to join the greater cause of improving our community.

      - If your purpose is to help my business succeed, I might hire you but only out of self interest. If you believe the economy, big business, government bureaucracy and other forces are undermining small business owners, you believe that's not right, and you're purpose is to level the playing field and give the small businesses that make our country great a fair shot at success, then I'll hire you and join your cause.

      That's how I see it.

      • "…you believe the economy, big business, government bureaucracy and other forces are undermining small business owners, you believe that's not right, and you're purpose is to level the playing field and give the small businesses that make our country great a fair shot at success…"

        That's it, exactly. You summed it up nicely. I guess I haven't really expressed that part of it, have I?

        Incidentally, your article inspired my to finally get a hold of the book and read it, which I've been meaning to for some time now.

        • PaulSteinbrueck Feb 21, 2012 at 6:14 am

          Hey John, that's why we do this blog – to help sharpen and refine each others ideas. Glad to hear you picked up a copy of the book. Anything big learning points or action steps come from reading the book?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Secret to the Success of Apple, MLK and the Wright Brothers | Christian Web Trends Blog - Jan 27, 2012

    [...] –> Do People Really Buy Apple Products Because of Their Why? Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck communications Check Out The Impact the Stop SOPA Internet Blackout Day Had on Congress Do People Really Buy Apple Products Because of Their Why? [...]

  2. Your Questions About How Important Is The Spark In A Relationship | Signs You Met the Right One - Mar 10, 2012

    [...] Emotionally Detaching from Your HomeAre You Satisfied YetHello everyone!…(a post about Israel)Do People Really Buy Apple Products Because of Their Why .recentcomments a{display:inline !important;padding:0 !important;margin:0 [...]