Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Is it enough to restore consumer confidence in their brand?

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It’s official. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 releases to the public on the 23 August 2017.

However, we all remember the Galaxy Note 7 fire debacle and Samsung’s lack of adequate quality control measures that led to phones exploding in customer’s pockets. This severely impacted Samsung’s bottom line almost immediately in terms of consumer confidence and subsequently led to them making losses in excess of 30 Billion Rand in their Smartphone business. Many die-hard and loyal customers of the South Korean tech giant’s handsets jumped ship overnight in favour of their rivals, Apple Inc.

However, Samsung recently announced a successor to the troubled Galaxy Note 7, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

Samsung hopes the device will restore consumer confidence in their brand and have already given their assurances it’s not going to overheat and subsequently explode in pockets worldwide. While the battery overheating and short-circuiting was ultimately deemed the cause of the Galaxy note 7’s woes, they publically declared they have more stringent quality control measures in place to prevent this issue from repeating with the Galaxy note 8. Even if that is the case, a question remains. Will it be enough to lure their previous customers away from the warm arms of Apple Inc.?

This is where many Samsung fans have found solace since the exploding Note 7 global recall.

Is it going to reignite the passion for Samsung Mobiles offerings?

Samsung also faces stiffer competition now more than ever from other Android smartphone makers such as Sony and LG. There’s also the growing threat from Chinese firms like Huawei, Xiaomi Inc. and Oppo who are all too eager to eat into Samsung’s market share when the android market leader stumbles. These Chinese firms already beat out the competition in terms of sales of their low to mid-range cell phone offering in terms of performance to cost ratio.

Research data gathered in the 4th Quarter of 2016 suggests while Samsung currently holds the lion’s share in terms of the android smartphone business,  after eight quarters, Apple Inc. has now successfully regained the top spot In terms of global sales of smartphones as a whole (iOS and Android). Helped in part I’m sure due to the negative publicity and subsequent drop in consumer confidence in the Samsung Mobile brand since the Galaxy Note 7 global recall.

Q4 2016 Smartphone market share:

1) Apple 17.9%

2) Samsung 17.8%

3) Huawei 9.5%

4) Oppo 6.2%

5) BBK Communication Equipment 5.6%

Can Samsung reinvigorate their mobile phone business with the Galaxy note 8? That remains to be seen. I feel that they are not doing enough to rid themselves of their stale image. Year in and year out, their marketing campaigns only highlight the one or two “gimmicks” that differentiates the newer models from their older ones.  They choose to focus their marketing on, say for example the gimmick of having an edge to edge screen on their Galaxy S8 phones and use the slogan “Unbox your phone”, with reference to the phone not having visible bezels and the screen no longer being in a “box”. Apart from that however, their marketing team seems to lack the creativity to blend holistic taglines and marketing that embodies their devices as a whole. The holistic marketing campaigns of Chinese smartphone makers however seems to be working well for them as their companies continue to grow at an exponential rate despite the always present danger of market over-saturation.

Consumers however have chosen to rather trust in the more affordable offering of the Chinese firms and their personalised, warm and friendly marketing, which has already had devastating effects on smartphone makers like HTC which up and until a couple years ago was a very big player in the smartphone industry.

Could the clever holistic marketing campaigns the Chinese firms employ be one of the reasons for their exponential growth? Rather than market “gimmicks”, they choose to use marketing campaigns and accompanying taglines that illustrate how their phones make life easier. Of course, there’s no doubt marketing deals such as partnering with various soccer teams such as the Huawei and Arsenal FC or the Leagoo and Tottenham Hotspur marketing campaigns have done wonders in terms of brand awareness in areas such as Europe, the Americas and Africa where we would not otherwise have known about their smart phones.

What I feel Samsung desperately need however, is a complete reboot or re-imagining of their Galaxy Note and Galaxy S range’s identity and branding. For too long Samsung has allowed their brand identity to be positioned as merely a competitor to Apple Inc. and their offerings.  Clearly that isn’t enough anymore as the Chinese firms are now also eating into their market share despite the South Korean company having better specifications in general in comparison to their Chinese smartphone counterparts. Their marketing campaigns should be positioned to reflect a fresh new direction with a greater emphasis on more holistic taglines and brand awareness vehicles.

 

Author
Shaylin Pillay, Managing Partner at Helm Market Consulting

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