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Despite new launches, Samsung continues to lag behind Xiaomi in India

By T E Narasimhan
February 07, 2020 17:08 IST

It has 18.9 per cent share of the market, down from 22.6 per cent for the third quarter of 2018 while Xiaomi has 27.1 per cent share.

How does a brand that once rode the highs, in one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world, navigate the troughs? Ask Samsung.

The Korean mobile handset brand has been steadily losing market share in India, with its gap with market leader Xiaomi widening through 2019.

It has 18.9 per cent share of the market (Q3 2019, IDC), down from 22.6 per cent for the third quarter of 2018.

Xiaomi has 27.1 per cent share (Q3 2019), marginally lower than the 27.3 per cent in Q3 2018.

The IDC report added, “Samsung was the only vendor amongst the top five to fall (in terms of shipments), dropping 8.5 per cent YoY in Q3 2019.

The lag between older Galaxy A series (Galaxy A10, 50, etc.) and the refreshed Galaxy As (Galaxy A10s, A50s etc.) series just before the Diwali quarter led to this sharp decline.

However, newly launched Galaxy M30s registered strong shipments in its opening quarter.”

For a brand that has been on the list of top 5 smartphone brands in the country for years and was once pitched as a rival to the iconic

Apple brand in India, the numbers paint a sorry picture.

How is the company retooling the brand to reconnect with its consumers?

The big lesson from the crisis is that a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work.

Consumers today seek unique propositions and the company is not just tuning in more closely to what they want, but the company said it is also crafting a more localised communication strategy.

“At Samsung, we spend a lot of time understanding our consumers.

"We know that our consumers are spending a lot of time binge watching, clicking pictures and playing games.

"Consumer behaviour has inspired some of our most important innovations,” said Aditya Babbar, director, Mobile Business, Samsung India.

He points to (handsets in the Rs 15,000 and above range) new screens, batteries and premium camera features that are delivering an experience closer to what users want, than ever before.

“The core smartphone experience has been better than ever in 2019,” he added.

Babbar highlights the innovations introduced during 2019, especially the Galaxy Fold that costs over a lakh in the Indian market.

Increasingly the brand is using tech-driven innovations to create an experience that helps command a significant premium for its phones, thereby moving away from the discounting game that is the forte of its Chinese rivals.

According to a report by Kantar, a research, data and insight company, brands are driving ‘premium-ness’ by embedding what it calls purposeful innovation.

The exercise has been on globally for several years now, with brands managing to more than double their brand values and between 2014 and 2018 (the latest numbers tracked by the agency) brands that were able to innovate and convey purpose effectively were able to climb up the premium index and increase their average brand value by 106 per cent.

Samsung wants to demonstrate its tech credentials to a generation that puts a huge premium on such features and is hoping to thereby, drive up the value of the brand.

Babbar said, “Our aim is to enable the ‘Galaxy Lifestyle’ in which technology is seamlessly integrated to enhance every aspect of the lives of our consumers.”

“The smart phone market in India sits right at the top of the pyramid of opportunity.

"Out here the battle lines are drawn between players with cosmetic brand appeal, versus players with functional superior appeal.

"While Apple sits at the top, players like One Plus, Vivo and Oppo sit at the bottom.

"Samsung enjoys the unique position of being in between,” said Harish Bijoor, founder Bijoor Consults.

Customer research by Samsung shows that Indian phone users are upgrading faster than they used to.

Indian consumers have evolved faster than their global counterparts and have become increasingly demanding.

The average upgrade cycle for Indian consumers are coming down because consumers are no longer driven just by necessity, but by the desire for newer innovations and better technology, according to Babbar.

The company is also focusing on digital as a channel for communication, sales and delivery, but also to understand and reach out to customers who spend a long time researching their brands online.

“We have also shifted focus with digital now being one of the most salient channels for us.

"A significant portion of our ATL spends are parked for digital,” said Babbar.

T E Narasimhan in Chennai
Source: source
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