Firstly, there are a few things I need to get out of the way. I work for Samsung. I joined in 2012 and I’m the Regional Marketing Director, looking after digital marketing and go-to-market initiatives in Asia (I wrote about my awesome new job at Samsung here). This is my personal perspective as a marketing leader working inside Samsung and paying particular attention to some of Samsung’s key competitors – including players like Apple, HTC, Nokia, and RIM/Blackberry. It’s in no way an official company statement, just my personal opinion.
So with that said, I’m immensely proud to work at Samsung. The company has become the number 1 brand in Asia, and according to Interbrand’s global survey Samsung has rocketed to number 9 position. Samsung make amazing products that I use every day (my 55” SMART TV; my Galaxy SIII, etc.) and has revolutionary products on the horizon, such as the Ultra Definition TV and the Youm flexible displays that were showcased at CES 2013. The reason I love the brand is related to why I no longer like Apple. Sure, Apple still produce fantastic products. I’ve owned a Macbook Air, iPhone and iPad – as well as the ill-conceived Apple TV. Most of their products are great – so why is Apple losing its cool (as suggested by WSJ’s article: “Has Apple lost its cool to Samsung?”) and what’s changed with Samsung?
I see it as three things:
1. Attitude – Apple simply aren’t listening and don’t seem to care. Samsung do.
Apple think they know what you want, even when they’re wrong. As Forbes identified in their article “Five Dangerous Lessons To Learn From Steve Jobs” - Throughout his career, Steve Jobs famously eschewed market research and relied on his intuition. In a 1985 interview with Playboy, he said: “We built [the Mac] for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research.” Twelve years later, he told Business Week: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
The problem with this approach is that you’re right – until you’re wrong. We’re now seeing that with iPhone 5. It was a disappointment. Not because it wasn’t a good phone, but because our needs have moved on. People are demanding larger screens, new features and open access to new Apps and their own data/App ecosystem. We no longer live in a world where are needs are dictated to us. With the rise of social media and the obliteration of barriers between consumers and brands, this type of attitude is not acceptable.
2. Apple are anti-social and shun media (traditional, PR and social media). This is an area Samsung have embraced with success.
From a marketing standpoint, it’s even more pronounced. For many years Apple have simply refused to engage with the media and to engage customers. Apple are one of the few major corporates that are completely anti-social. They have no Facebook presence, do not engage via Twitter or LinkedIn and certainly have not opened communication via Weibo or other social networks in China or in regional communities in other markets across the world.
Samsung on the other hand have invested heavily into engaging with customers via social media. Using both in-house people and our agency partners Leo Burnett, Cheil Worldwide and Starcom, Samsung have put in place Community Management and social customer engagement in 47 countries.
It also helps that social networks, such as Facebook, are now generating some serious ROI for Samsung (in this case, for the launch of the Galaxy SIII).
3. Winning hearts and minds through marketing – Samsung are now simply better marketers than others in the consumer electronics category.
As identified in the Wall Street Journal article “Has Apple Lost It’s Cool To Samsung?” Samsung’s “The Next Big Thing” campaign has struck a chord with consumers.
The campaign swayed consumers including Will Hernandez, an Apple iPhone owner who bought a Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone about three months ago after seeing Samsung's ads."If you see this stuff on TV enough, it gets you thinking," said Mr. Hernandez, a 34-year-old resident of Somerville, Mass., who adds that he likes how his Galaxy has a larger screen than the iPhone. "Now, when someone gives me an iPhone to look at a picture, it looks so tiny." The marketing onslaught is helping Samsung widen the gap as the market leader. Samsung is estimated to have held 28% of the global smartphone market last year, up from 20% a year earlier, according to IHS iSuppli. Apple's share, meanwhile, isn't rising as quickly, moving to 20.5% in 2012 from 19% a year earlier.
There’s some great brand building, emotionally engaging stories that Samsung are creating. LeBron James’ day with Samsung Note II was a viral video sensation, with over 40 million views to-date. In Malaysia, Samsung have been working with local music artist Yuna, a collaboration that lead to "Sparkle Project": http://video.sparkleproject.
This helped Samsung lead as one of the top 10 viral video brands in 2012 (even ahead of the great work Old Spice are doing).
I realise that technology, particularly with brands like Samsung and Apple, is a passion of many people. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the three points above so please add your comments below.