Is Samsung more “cool” than Apple?

Samsungby Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, BE Branded  |

There is much talk these days about the battle between Apple and Samsung in the high-end smart phone market. Court battles as well as marketplace battles rage on. What used to be unthinkable about 3 or 4 years ago is now being discussed openly in the business and investment circles: Has Apple lost it’s “Cool” position to Samsung?

There are a few indicators supporting this thought. Apple’s stock is getting hammered as of this writing (down by almost 35% from their high of late 2012).  Samsung has sold more smart phones in 2012 than Apple. Just in the 4th quarter of 2012 alone, Samsung had sold 64 million while Apple had sold 48 million. Finally, there is more buzz and chatter with the Galaxy S series among consumers than for the iPhone 5. It used to be people only talked about was iPhone, nothing else.

What has contributed to this extra “coolness” to Samsung? There are three factors (according to Wall Street Journal), engineering prowess, manufacturing power and deep commitment to marketing. I’ll focus on the marketing portion since that is my area of expertise. As you see, all components of a company must be in alignment to deliver a consistent brand experience and brand message.

Samsung poured over $200 million in the U.S. alone in marketing muscle to promote their Galaxy S line. So much for being the best kept secrete. They didn’t just depend on word of mouth or hope it catches on in the social media world so they could save a few dollars. Samsung believed in their product offering and aggressively told their story. Of course, social media was part of their mix, but that wasn’t the focus of the campaign. Most smart marketers know that in order to win the battle for consumers emotion and mind, they must invest in telling their own story and not just depend on others (social media) to do it for them.

Another point is you know when a company really likes their product. They tend to do less competition bashing and more excitement building for their own stuff. This is what Samsung has done with the launch of the Galaxy S III. In fact, they even took a page out of the Apple play book by centering their advertising around the idea of “What If” with the same confident, reassuring tone of Apple advertising. (It goes to show, everyone steals, the difference is the best knows what to steal.) They also successfully painted the iPhone as passé which takes away from it’s coolness. Their success was achieved through a significant commitment to marketing and integration of their media (traditional, social, online, transit, outdoor). As Tom Peters (business management guru) says, “How can you expect splashy results when you only dip your toe in the water?

Here are some reactions that any marketer would love to have to show the effectiveness of the brand push thus far:

Dora Daniels, 26, of Oakland, Calif., said she learned about Samsung’s latest Galaxy S III because of giant ads plastered around a downtown San Francisco transit station. “It’s silly because I don’t want to be a slave to marketing but it really got into my head,” said Ms. Daniels, who recently switched to the Samsung phone from an older iPhone.

“If you see this stuff on TV enough, it gets you thinking,” said Mr. Hernandez, a 34-year-old resident of Somerville, Mass.

The battle royal is on.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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