Samsung changes marketing approach

01 February 2012

SEOUL: Samsung, the electronics group, is drawing on learnings from areas like the cosmetics industry as it tries to engage consumers in a more emotional way.

Speaking to AllThingsDigital, Younghee Lee, Samsung's head of global marketing for mobile devices, revealed that the firm was hoping to transform shopper perceptions – and to take on the might of Apple.

"[I want to discover] how I can engage with consumers from the bottom of their heart, and not just be a big and functional and rational and reasonable brand," Lee said.

Such an objective is particularly important when discussing American shoppers, where the attachment to Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad is often strong.

"Especially in [the] US, people are obsessed with Apple," Lee said. "It's time to change people's attention."

In one recent TV spot, the Korean firm featured an Apple customer reporting a shift in affiliation having been "Samsunged", and an ad during the Super Bowl will build on such messaging.

Samsung's mobile phone unit also has a global sponsorship deal in place with the Olympic Games, which will form a key part of its marketing strategy this year.

IHS, the research group, estimated that Samsung shipped 95m smartphones in 2011, a 278% increase on 2010. Apple's total came in at 93m, a lift of 96% year on year.

However, Apple's iPhone retook the lead in the fourth quarter on 37m shipments, versus Samsung's 36m, following the launch of the iPhone 4S, and indicating that competition will remain intense.

Having previously worked for L'Oréal and Lancôme, Lee suggested that she has embarked on a major turnaround in the Samsung's approach since joining four-and-a-half years ago.

"Nobody was talking about consumer languages. I saw the huge potential there. I tried to interpret our difficult technology into consumer languages," she said.

More specifically, Lee argued that these two markets did have clear things in common, as successful products in other segments are based on innovative technology and exhibit an emotional pull.

"Very often, people believe cosmetics are a box of hopes or illusions," she said. "Mobile can be a symbol of who you are ... A lot of people believe 'What I have in my hands is me.'"

Data sourced from AllThingsDigital; additional content by Warc staff