Market leadership is fleeting…
Apple sells a premium product in the smart phone category that commands a high margin. Samsung doesn’t… yet. In order to maintain its leadership position Apple has to continue to innovate and it has to continue to reinforce it’s brand leadership with premium quality promotions. So far, so good.
If you want to be a market leader then everything you do has to be best-in-class. Consider two recent promotions by Apple and Samsung:
In one, Apple delivers a high quality, authentic and emotive film that supports Apple’s leadership position. This holiday season promotion delivers a strong visual narrative, a clever twist in the story and a nice emotional tug at the end. Understated and beautifully made, it’s everything you’d expect from a market leader:
…and then there’s Samsung’s newest video. It’s difficult to tell whether Samsung was actually going for ‘campy awkward’ or they simply have no idea what good is. Or, perhaps they do, and they actually understand their audience much better than we think.
I don’t believe Samsung is clever enough for this degree of awkwardness (I’d give it a ’9.3′) to be intentional. (I also don’t believe Coke’s ‘New Coke’ calamity a few decades back was intentional either…) This is likely just one of Samsung’s many independent business units not being sophisticated enough to understand what great (or even good) is.
Will this hurt Samsung – not likely. The advantage of not being the leader is that your mistakes are quickly forgotten. Apple, on the other hand, has a very narrow margin for error. We’re all just waiting for them to slip up, then we attack. We love and hate our leaders in equal measure.
So while Apple continues its run as the world’s Über-cool brand, Samsung is starting to make a run – but they still have a long way to go.
Takeaway: If you want to be the market leader you have to act like one.