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Samsung wants to be ‘playful’ with marketing in face of biggest profit drop in 8 years

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By Chris Sutcliffe, Senior reporter

February 2, 2023 | 7 min read

Samsung is betting on fun hands-on experiences to sell its smartphones in the face of a cost-of-living crisis, says its UK marketing boss.

The creative for the Samsung Experience Spaces taking place as part of Unpacked 2023

The Samsung Experience Spaces are designed to allow consumers to go hands-on with the new range of smartphones / Samsung

Samsung has always gone heavy on tech specs in its marketing with its slick and sleek creative demonstrating the capabilities of its smartphones. But in the face of economic slowdown, the brand is seeking to pivot this strategy.

Samsung this week revealed its profits for the last three months of 2022 had fallen by 69%, the lowest level in eight years as customers bought fewer smartphones and laptops. Analysts expect a further drop in the first quarter of this year.

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It now wants to move away from campaigns highlighting the latest specs to instead showcase the fun and forward-facing nature of its tech through in-person experiences and influencer partnerships.

Annika Bizon, marketing and omnichannel director for Samsung UK and Ireland, explained that the transition is based on the success of experiments in personality-led marketing in the past.

“We’re being more playful because we saw with the ‘Join the Flipside’ [campaign] that really resonated. That’s going to flow through all of our comms and right the way through to our social, our ambassadors, our PR campaign all around,” she said.

She states that the central theme of an upcoming campaign for the Galaxy S22 Ultra is based around the concept of ‘Can you send me that?’ noting that every group of friends typically has a member who is the unofficial official photographer. It will highlight the camera’s capabilities by appealing to that shared experience.

Samsung has also announced a partnership with Oscar-winner Charlie Kaufman, who will debut Jackals and Fireflies, a short film that was shot on the phone, designed to showcase the camera’s capabilities. Between that and a new type of light-up billboards being deployed as part of the omnichannel launch campaign, the new focus of Samsung’s marketing is around spectacle, not tech specs.

She states that the campaign will then transition into an ITV partnership, which will see Olly Murs and Fleur East “doing different challenges around London, showing what the phone can do. It’s being playful and having some fun with this release.”

New opportunities

Beyond the phone itself, Samsung is also catering to consumers affected by the current economic climate. Bizon points out that value is at the forefront of the consumer consciousness at the moment, and so it is positioning its packages to appeal to cash-strapped customers.

Services like Netflix and Disney Plus, which launched two years ago, have been feeling the hit from people canceling subscriptions to claw back cash. Bizon said by offering Disney Plus for free to its users the brand can cement its value credentials. “What the research points to is that Disney is really, really resonating because people are making decisions on the subscription services," she said.

It is also expanding its ability to get consumers to go hands-on with the technology. To that end, Samsung is launching Galaxy Experience Spaces across the country which allows the public to try the smartphone and its smart home integration, with the Experience Space in Westfield in London available from February 2 through to March 12.

Beyond the launch and the focus on fun, Bizon explained that Samsung is seeking to develop longer-term relationships with influencers and communities. She noted that the processor of the new range of phones has been designed with mobile gaming in mind: to that end, it is seeking to explore partnerships on platforms like Twitch seriously for the first time, as it’s an audience the brand has “never really reached into as aggressively” as it is this year.

She added: “It’s about the company we keep as a brand. So the company we keep amplifies the Samsung brand, but it also means that we are more relevant. It’s where you can start to have authentic conversations that, as a brand, can be quite hard.

“It means you’ve got to step away from some of your brand police mindset, which is like ‘we don’t do this or that’, and let the whole community talk back to you.”

In line with the shifting conversation around influencers, Samsung is looking in greater detail at speaking to small but more engaged communities.

We don’t yet know how severe the economic slowdown will be, though the recent IMF forecasts indicate that the UK will be hit much more sharply than other territories. Despite – or perhaps, because of that – Samsung’s marketing strategy is shifting to be less sterile and more human, building upon its experiments in that space from previous launches.

Brand Strategy Social Media Samsung

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