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Samsung takes a lesson from Apple in stroking the Note-devotees

Samsung 4

Samsung has launched the latest edition of the Note brand, with a backdrop which looks and sounds quite familiar. Perhaps Samsung execs have been taking a few notes watching Apple launches of yesteryear.

In fairness, it does look like a good phone. It is pretty slick, has all the latest tech and a couple of useful features which will probably make life a bit easier. But ultimately, it is the launch of a new smartphone. We’ve seen them before, and aside from a couple of quirky additions, it isn’t much different from anything else on the market. Just more powerful, faster and shinier. Nothing really that new.

The one thing which struck Telecoms.com during the launch event was the idea of cultivation. It would appear the team has realized there is little differentiation between various handsets, aside from the brand itself. Even software seems to becoming remarkably repetitive, so there has to be another way of thinking developed. Another explanation would be it doesn’t have to shout about features anymore. It has the customer base, now its about making sure they don’t go anywhere, but at the same time, spend more money.

“I will never forget about what happened last year,” said DJ Koh, Samsung’s mobile Chief. “But I will never forget about the loyal fans who stuck with us. We are here today because of your support. I am humbled by your loyalty and your feedback.”

Samsung 2

Every company will try and cultivate an audience and loyal following, but few have done it as successfully as Apple. We occasionally joke about an army of iLifers who would follow a floating iPhone off the edge of a cliff, but this is partly because Apple has done an incredible job in cultivating this customer base, developing a brand alliance which has stood the test of time. It’s a cultish following which sees the iPhone, as well as the wider iEcosystem as a life necessity.

Think about the removal of the headphone jack. This essentially told the iLifers they wouldn’t be able to purchase another brand of headphones. Any other device manufacturer which did this would have been cast aside, but not Apple. There were some rumblings of discontent, but let’s be honest, nothing above a murmur. This level of loyalty is the subject of envy from everyone else. The dedicated iLifers upgrade their phone at every opportunity; what device manufacturer wouldn’t want this type of customer.

Samsung seem to be doing the same. It payed homage to the Note-devotees who stuck with the brand following last year’s firestorm. Some might say this was a brave move, but from our perspective, it was a topic which just couldn’t be ignored; the team didn’t have a choice. Better to work it into the narrative than try to brush it under the table.

“Samsung is quite confident at the moment,” said Ben Wood of CCS Insight. “Both Apple and Samsung are in strong positions, with big customer bases, leaving only crumbs for the other devices manufacturers to pick up.

“This position allows Samsung to develop an emotional connection with the user, not just shouting about the new features. This is where they missed out against Apple, which has been nurturing this audience for some time. They are saying this is a device which you can be proud of.”

Samsung 6

The product is designed for those who are multi-taskers, apparently. Those who are out and about, being individuals, and sharing their lives online. The camera is certainly designed for this, as are some of the features including Dex. Justin Denison, Samsung’s SVP of Product Strategy, summed this idea up quite well when he said “you aren’t dreamers, you are doers. And the Samsung Note 8 is all about doing”.

It would appear Samsung is chasing after the individualist, non-conformers, who are so ironically displaying their narcissistic tendencies all over social media. Other brands are too mainstream now, Samsung is saying, but look at the quirky pictures you can create, or personalised messages you can send (using the S-pen to personalise with your own hand-writing), and the glorious pictures which you can take with our Dual-camera. This is an extension of your personality, Samsung is whispering to these individuals.

When you look at the actual features of the new devices, you can see why branding is becoming so important. It has a big screen. Excellent technology for high-definition videos. A dual-camera. It’s water resistant. Voice user interface. A virtual assistant. Biometric security. Camera quick launch. Voice activated short-cuts. Low light camera features. None of these are particularly new. Going back to the brand advertising strategies of years gone by, playing on emotion and the self-indulgent, personal-reflection tendencies of the consumer, is probably a good idea.

This is of course only our opinion from having watched the launch, and of course, it isn’t a bad idea. Apple has made billions, dominated the industry and stood the test of time after creating its own army of iLifers. Samsung seemed to have picked up on the idea that differentiation isn’t going to work. Chasing customers is too difficult, but holding onto our own ones through creating a brand identity which speaks to the masses of individuals could work. It’s generic brand advertising at its finest.

Whether it works is another matter, but Samsung certainly has the advertising spend to throw around. It will be expensive and possibly a complete failure, but it is the only way to get differentiation nowadays.

Samsung 7

Welcome to the world Note-devotees.


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