Call it a contender to iPhone or one of the leading electronic brands that are present in the country today, you cannot ignore the dent this South Korean company has made in India. Banking on its ‘make for India’ philosophy, Samsung India is designing products that stay true to the needs of Indian consumers, reveals its CMO Ranjivjit Singh in a conversation with BrandWagon’s Ananya Saha. Edited excerpts:
Samsung, in Q2 2017, sold nearly every fifth smartphone in the country. In feature phones too, it had the largest market share at 22.3%, according to a CMR India report. However, Xiaomi seems to be closing in, with a 16.2% market share (Q2, 2017). How is Samsung geared up for competition from Chinese players?
Our market share in the premium category of mobile phones (over Rs 30,000) is 68% and is 43% in the smartphone category, according to GfK. As a true industry leader, we are very focussed on the consumer. We are obsessed with how can we make their lives better. For instance, we developed the S Bike mode for riders so that they do not get disturbed by calls while on the bike. When 4G was introduced, it got people excited but because of watching videos, the data packs ran out really fast, and most of Indian consumers are on prepaid plans. So, we introduced Ultra data saving mode that allows people to save up to 50% of their data. It was introduced in the Samsung Galaxy J series, and it became so popular that it has become one of the highest sold phone series in the country. Every third smartphone sold in India is Samsung J series.
Then, our Active Wash washing machine has a little tub attached; it came out of the insight that consumers in India prefer to scrub the collars and cuffs before putting it in the washing machine. It became so popular in India that we introduced it to other countries. Then we have the five-in-one convertible refrigerator for different modes. When you walk into a store, products designed and created for India will catch your eye.
Over the last 22 years of our presence in India, we have built two factories, five R&D centres, a design centre and have 70,000 employees. With the kind of mind space we have been able to create, we make for India. Make for India is our key competitive edge and is irreplaceable. We have exclusive stores of Samsung that are also experience stores. Channel partners trust us because we invest so much in India. We have recently expanded our Noida factory with an additional investment of Rs 4,915 crore.
What are the customer engagement initiatives that Samsung has employed for the festive season?
We have seen a very strong consumer sentiment for this festive season from all parameters — starting off with Ganesh Chaturthi and going on to Onam, Durga Puja and Navratras. We have had fantastic offers across all our ranges, assured gifts, zero down payment, cashback, screen replacement or warranty, easy financing schemes — there is something for everyone under the Smart Utsav theme that we will follow through this festive season.
What are your expectations from the Galaxy Note 8 in light of Apple’s latest iPhone X launch, considering that tech circles are pitting the phones against each other for the consumer’s share of wallet?
We are very excited. It has got positive reviews and the kind of response we are getting is unprecedented and well-deserved. It is such a beautiful product in terms of its design, S Pen, dual camera, infinity display, etc. It has got artificial intelligence, Bixby. It is beautiful in terms of aesthetics and what it does.
How would you define Samsung’s core TG?
We have been in this country for 22 years, having started operations in 1995. Over the years, we have ingrained ourselves into the heart of India. When it comes to our TG, one part of it is the whole connect with consumers over the years, and the other part is the work we have done in the society — the CSR part. Last year, we started 535 service vans that went to the remotest part of the country. Our TG is in villages, cities and urban areas because Samsung is fundamentally a very inclusive brand.
From the Samsung India Service campaign in January, 2017 to the recent #SapneHueBade — why did Samsung shift from ads focussing on product features to social messaging? Did it add to your topline?
We call them campaigns because people watch them on YouTube or TV but the idea is to highlight the real work that was done. In 2013, the Samsung Smart Class initiative was started. Now we have 500 such schools.
The campaign got 35 million views in the same month that it was released. Similarly, we told the story of a girl attending the Samsung Technical School — it touched 80 million views and was the most watched video amongst women.
We tell the untold stories of what are the contributions we are making to the society. The Service film reached 100 million views in 53 days. When you start connecting people, then you reach the true measure of effectiveness. Overall, Samsung has become the most trusted brand in the country — what bigger validation do we want than that? Those are the toplines that we care about. We have 150,000 retail stores in the country, and our service centres are also spread out across.
Samsung really observes what our customers do with our products at home and what do people feel about the brand. Viewers get really immersed in watching TV emotionally when watching sports or when they are watching a serial.
We took that insight of fulfilment and enrichment and asked the agency Cheil to suggest a story for our QLED TV that connects. The viewer obviously gets the knowledge about the TV’s features but the beauty about the ad was the emotions.
Five years down the line, how do you see the brand evolving in India?
There is a clear vision and direction for us — Make for India is a very strong pillar for the company. In five years, we see the brand becoming stronger, trust becoming firmer, love for the brand increasing and with that, we hope people recognise Samsung as being truly Indian at heart.
– By Ananya Saha