Samsung’s Strategic Apple Smackdown

Samsung continues to brilliantly challenge, and deposition, the Apple brand in its newest Galaxy S4 advertising campaign. Reminiscent of Apple‘s classic “I’m a Mac. I’m a PC” strategy, in which Apple strategically portrays IBM as inferior, old, and tired, Samsung contemporizes that idea by showing itself as the superior, younger, and cooler option. This continues Samsung’s successful strategy of demonstrating wins on brand performance and image vs. Apple that it has employed for several years.

It’s working beautifully, particularly at a time when Apple has finally shown some vulnerability. In fact, according to Interbrand‘s recent Best Global Brands report, Samsung was the biggest rising star in brand valuation – up 40% versus the prior year, now placing it as the world’s 9th most valuable brand. In addition, Samsung has grabbed the #1 market share position in smartphones, jumping ahead of Apple and Nokia. According to Ad Age, Samsung’s market share jumped to 30%, up 9 percentage points vs. the prior year, partly at Apple’s expense, who lost 2 share points. Beyond portraying Samsung’s users as far more savvy, bright, and aspirational, the campaign also persuasively communicates several of Samsung’s feature and performance advantages.

Samsung’s innovation and communication strategy beautifully position themselves as a leader, while strategically redefining the competitive brand as an inferior option.

Lessons learned:
1. Brand challengers can effectively surpass the leader by building brand performance and image superiority. The strategy works particularly well when you win on the primary benefits that drive brand selection and loyalty.
2. Exploit your competitors’ weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Even the most dominant brands have ‘chinks in the armor’ that you can exploit.
3. Innovate quickly and often. Market leaders often innovate and execute more slowly, deliberately, and have higher volume hurdles.

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