Samsung seeks to stand out

4 February 2013

SEOUL: Samsung, the consumer electronics group, is seeking to adopt a brand positioning capable of engaging a wide range of shoppers, as it tries to stand out from Apple's more exclusive status.

Jong-bin Lee, director of Samsung Electronics' global advertising account at Cheil Worldwide, its agency, told CNBC that a shift in emphasis away from "value for money" had been vital.

More specifically, he suggested Samsung has made progress both in terms of being seen as innovative and as a company that "cares for everybody".

This approach has helped it stand apart from Apple, which can potentially be perceived as a similarly innovative, but perhaps more "self-centred", brand.

"When I started in 1996, Samsung was struggling to get through the market in terms of brand awareness and consumer confidence," said Lee.

Cheil actually began life as Samsung's in-house agency, and has played an integral role in transforming the firm's fortunes can be evidenced by assessing its recent sales figures.

Strategy Analytics, the insights provider, reported that Samsung sold 213m smartphones last year, a 30.4% share of the global market, ahead of Apple on 135.8m, or 19.4% of sales.

The two companies posted totals of 97.4m and 93m sales respectively in 2011, with Samsung's increasing distribution network and range of pricing options key to building this lead.

"Broader appeal is really what's driving their sales," said Mykola Golovko, an analyst at insights group Euromonitor. "Samsung has a lot of specific country, region models and variances of these models, that's really what's driving their overall volume growth."

Peter Mack, executive director of marketing, Greater China, at Landor, the consultancy, said Samsung's branding worked against low-cost rivals also using the Android operating system, as well as from Apple.

"The reason why people are plunking down money for a Samsung as opposed to a Huawei is because it's a Samsung - in that sense it's hugely important," he said.

Andrew Milroy, vice president of ICT Practice, another consultancy, said "Apple loyalists will remain Apple loyalists", but praised Samsung's strategy of tapping the youth market.

"Obviously if you're hitting a young audience and you get a critical mass of young folks, you've got an opportunity to focus on the hip factor [and] potentially make Apple devices seem kind of frumpy and unfashionable over time," he said.

Data sourced from CNBC; additional content by Warc staff