Case Study
Marketing Communication Mix: Apple versus Samsung

Introduction

Marketing communication mix is important in competitive business landscape, as the ability of any enterprise to communicate effectively and persuasively to the end users will ultimately affect the profitability and popularity of the products or services sold by that enterprise (Lazer, 1971). In this report, a comparative analysis on the marketing communication mix of Apple’s i-Phone to Samsung’s Galaxy S will be discussed.

The report is arranged as follow. Firstly, a literature review on the subject of marketing communication mix will be presented. Then, market overview on the mobile phone industry structure is performed. Later, the research methods used in this report is articulated and explained. Next, the analysis on the marketing communication mixes for Apple’s i-Phones and Samsung Galaxy S will be presented. Upon the analysis, a brief discussion on the differences between the two marketing communication mixes will be presented. The report concluded that both the marketing communication mixes of the two companies are outstanding and worth learning or copying by other businesses in today competitive business environment.

Literature Review

Marketing communication is the ways in which a company informs, persuades and reminds customers on the products and services sold by the company. It is an increasingly important elements of marketing as in the information overload society, the human attentions are become the scare resources (Olof, 2006). People may simply ignore any messages communicated by a corporation, no matter how much had been spent on delivering the messages to the public, when the messages are not compelling or attractive from the consumers’ perspectives. Thus, the design of marketing communication is crucial to reach the customers effectively and better than the competitors.

As discussed by Kotler and Keller (2006), there are six elements in marketing communication mixes. The six marketing communication mixes include: (a) advertising, (b) sales promotion, (c) events and experiences, (d) public relations and publicity, (e) direct marketing, and (f) personal selling.

Advertising. Traditionally, advertisement is the main way businesses entities communicate to the consumers. Generally speaking, advertising is the act of non-personal presentation and promotions of the products or services from a sponsor (i.e., the company promoting the goods or services). One reason advertisements are often used because such method is pervasive – it can be repeatedly used to send repeated messages to consumers. Particularly for large companies, the large scale advertisement often communicates about the reputation, size, success and power of the advertiser (Kotler and Keller, 2006). Besides, such methods can be designed to deliver amplified experiences or expressiveness to the receivers.

Sales promotion. Sales promotion can be a frequently used technique to encourage the consumers to try out a particular products or services promoted by a company. Usually, sales promotion is short terms, whereby incentives for purchasing a product or services such as discount vouchers, free gifts, or free tickets to other events may be offered to the customers (Kotler & Armstrong, 2004). Such method is powerful as consumers may perceive real value delivered or offered to them, and thus induced to try out the products being promoted.

Events and experiences. Under this marketing communication technique, company can sponsor activities and programs to interact more directly and personally with the consumers, in order to create stronger bonds or positive interaction with the end consumers. Events can be powerful as it engages the consumers, and deliver real experiences to the target prospect.

Public relations and publicity. Public relations are increasingly important to communicate or persuade the consumers to enhance the company images or images any products sold by the company (Kotler & Armstrong, 2004). Public relations, particularly being publicize in newspaper or third party sources, the messages delivered is more credible. It is also useful to reach prospects that consciously trying to avoid sales person or materials. Thus, through the recommendations of a third party, for example, being publicized in a leading magazine or newspaper, will surely enhance the reputation of a particular business or product.

Direct marketing. Direct marketing has been used widely by businesses for a long period ago. Under this method, mail letter, telephone, fax, email, or other sort of digital marketing mechanisms are used to communicate directly with the consumers or prospects. Direct marketing can be a powerful way to reach mass customers, especially using digital marketing techniques. Effective direct digital marketing can be a low cost option to tap into consumers – and yet delivering updated, customized and interactive communication to large group of prospect (Mehta et. al., 2002).

Personal selling. Perhaps the most effective but expensive methods of marketing communication mix is through personal selling, whereby face to face interaction with the consumers are designed to persuade, inform, handling objections, and securing orders from the consumers (Kotler & Armstrong, 2004). Such method is powerful because real time feedback or emotions from the prospect can be observed, and tackle immediately. However, such method can be expensive to reach the mass public in large scale.

In this report, the six elements of marketing communication mixes presented above will be used as the key framework for comparative analysis of two companies in the mobile phone sector, namely Apple’s i-Phones versus Samsung’s Galaxy S.

Market Overview

The market environment of mobile phone is a competitive, fast changing and dynamic one. The technologies driving the innovation have been changing fast in the past decades, while the consumers’ tastes can change fast. There are a few big giants competing in the mobile phone industry, where among the big players include Apple, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson, Nokia, Research in Motion and Motorola (Bulik, 2008). The industry structure is oligopoly, but fragmented in nature (Businessline, 2011). However, the competitions between the industry players are intense, particularly during recessionary periods. For example, in a few years ago, the mobile phone market is leaded by Nokia, as the company is perceived by consumers to deliver the most reliable, dependable and highest quality mobile phone. However, as the industry consolidated Sony-Ericsson come into picture to challenge the profitability of the market leader. Then, in just a few years, Research in Motion take the market by surprises through its sophisticated and well-position smart phones – BlackBerry. Having a blackberry suggests business savvy and effective execution skills, but that is no longer the perception of the market when Apple launched new i-Phones to the market. However, while Apple is celebrating is huge and gigantic success; Samsung is tackling and challenging popularity of i-Phones through Galaxy S II (Money Marketing, 2010). Overall, it can be seen that the industry is dynamic, and the product life cycles is very short, where any emergence of new technologies may threaten the profitability of even the market leader in the industry.

Research Methods

In order to conduct this research, both secondary and primary research methods are used, whenever relevant to product an insightful comparison of the marketing mixes of Apple’s i-Phones and Samsung’s Galaxy S. Secondary research will be performed through collecting relevant information from journals, magazines and books, from library or the internet. Primary research method however, is about using personal observation in analyzing and investigating the marketing communication mixes of both Apple and Samsung in daily life. That includes observations on advertisement of these companies on television, internet websites, cinema, shopping, as well as daily encounter with the messages related to these products.

The objectives of this research can be summarized in two points. Firstly, it is about investigating the marketing communication strategies and tactics used by companies dealing with mobile phones in fighting the competitive battle. Secondly, it is about identifying the campaigns and media used to deliver the marketing communication messages to the target market; as well as to understand how effective are these communication methods being employed. In order to conduct the research, the framework of marketing communication mix, as presented by Kotler and Keller (2006) in Literature Review section above will be utilized. Thus, the marketing efforts of Apple and Samsung in communicating to the mass public or target market will be analyzed through six dimensions as follow: (a) advertising, (b) sales promotion, (c) events and experiences, (d) public relations and publicity, (e) direct marketing, and (f) personal selling.

Analysis

In this section, the research findings and analysis on Apple and Samsung communication strategies in relation to the respective mobile phones products will be articulated. Comparisons will be performed by investigating the marketing communication efforts in each of the marketing communication dimensions outlined by Kotler and Keller (2006).

Advertising

Apple is a powerful company is launching online advertisement campaigns to reach the consumers. As shown in Figure 1 below, the websites of i-Phones is shown to be cutting edge, clean, clear and pleasant. The advertisement of Apple on the phone is consistent – always with white background – strikingly appealing to the consumers. Besides, Apple is never hesitating to highlight the advantages of the products to the target audience. The cutting edge advantages highlighted in the website include: face-to-face video calling, retina display, multi-tasking and HD video recording (Figure 2). There are simply no unnecessary messages or words or graphics in the advertisement, making it a clear message to the consumers on the benefits and features of the phone. This is one of the reasons cited by The Pak Banker (2010) that Apple able to surpass BlackBerry in mobile market in the global market.

 

Figure 1: Website of i-Phones

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Figure 2: Advantages of i-Phones

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Similarly, Samsung is giving significant emphasis on advertisement of Galaxy S as well. Figure 3 shows the website promoting the mobile phone – a dark blue interface as contrast to the pure white atmosphere delivered by Apple websites. As suggested by Businessline (2011) the mobile phone is promoted as something vivid, fast and slim. Indeed, in Computer Weekly News (2011), Galaxy S is promoted as the thinnest mobile phones, and the key advantages offered by the phone are explained clearly.

 

Figure 3: Websites of Galaxy S

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Sales Promotion

Apparently, both Apple and Samsung are not focusing a great deal on sales promotion. Perhaps that is because excessive promotion, particularly in terms of pricing discount may affect the brand name adversely in the long run. However, it can be observed that partnerships with other telcos are performed. Product bundling – subscribing to the services of certain telcos within a specified time period may get an i-Phone for great pricing discount is done. That is true for Samsung’s Galaxy S as well. Certain free gifts are available to persuade the consumers to try out the products.

Public Relations and Publicity

Apple is an outstanding company in utilizing publicity for free and yet powerful way to interact with consumers. As discussed and observed by Kazak (2010), it is found that the continuous news coverage about Apple products, particularly about i-Phones in the year 2010, has been able to produce a halo effects – that people feel that not having an i-Phone can be miserable. When more and more people have an i-Phones, people are pressed to having one as well, as people instinctively exhibit herding behaviors.

Partnership with other highly reputable company is also one way to enhance the brand name and to communicate the cutting edge technologies of Galaxy S. For example, Sunday Business Post (2011) has news related on Google using and recognizing the competitive edge and technological advantages offered by Galaxy S. Besides, in the popular magazine of computer hardware and software, PC world promoted Samsung’s Galaxy S as solid and speedy (Mies, 2011). Apart from that, especially in the year of 2011, the news about Galaxy S can be easily found from various newspaper or magazines, such as in Wall Street Journal (Boehret, 2011); The Economic Times (2011); and Businessline (2011). Apart from that, it can be seen that Samsung is utilizing social media such as Facebook to market its products. In the website of Galaxy S, visitors can choose to ‘Like’ the phone via Facbook, and at the time of this writing, more than 10 million of people ‘Like’ it around the world.

Events and Experiences

In Apple Stores, it can be seen that many people are playing with the touch screen of Apple. There are many funny games designed by Apple; and these games are played by the crowd and prospects customers. This is essentially one way in which Apple get in touch with the customers – and Apple will be considered as successful when the customers enjoy the games designed and find that the touch screen is fun and entertaining.

However, in contrast, Samsung is not really delivering such experiences to the customers. Apparently, Samsung is lagging behind is delivering fun experiences to the consumers. Customers have little ways to experiences the ‘fun’ or ‘something new’ experiences from Galaxy S.

Direct Marketing

Apple has an excellent Customer Relationship Management program. As a customer of i-Pod, I received emails about i-Phones whenever new launches or new models are available. This is essentially the direct email marketing techniques used by Apple, to get in touch with the previous customers. That is the case with Samsung as well – as long as someone is already sign up and had the email address recorded in Samsung databases.

Personal Selling

Although Apple does not employed sales person to visit prospects, the company does have friendly and highly professional sales person working in Apple Stores. As asserted by Coget (2011), the success of i-Phones (and other Apple’s products) is due to enthusiastic and insightful sales representatives in Apple Stores around the world. The employees are identified with Apple logo, and the Apple stores and environment is decorated with a sense of Apple’s culture. Such “Apple Stores effects” are argued to build strong customer loyalty worldwide for i-Phones.

For the case of Samsung’s Galaxy, there is no such thing as Samsung Stores Effect as there are no specifically designed Samsung Stores by the company. Thus, Samsung has to rely on the resellers for providing better services or to persuade the customers in trying out their products.

Discussion

The competition between Apple’s i-Phones and Samsung’s Galaxy S is expected to be intense. As of the date of this writing, i-Phones is still leading in most region of the world; but that market leader position in terms of growth is being challenged by Samsung’s Galaxy S. As reported by Business Wire (2011), in May of 2011, Apple’s i-Phones are overtaken by Samsung’s Galaxy S in Japan. Nonetheless, it can be seen that the competitive battle can be intense. Both companies have different ways to reach customers. In this report, it is found that Apple apparently has better formulated and delivered marketing communication mixes to reach the mass public. The key differences, and perhaps the key advantages offered by Apple is that – Apple Stores allows customers to experience the ‘fun’ of its products for the consumers.

Conclusion

As concluding remarks, it is observed that both companies have pretty similar marketing communication mixes. Advertisements are used, and websites are designed in an attractive manner to endure the customers. Direct marketing, particularly through the use of digital media, such as emails are performed by both companies. Publicity for both of the companies is abundance in various magazines. It is observed that Apple focus more on ‘fun’ and ‘innovation’ value proposition; while Galaxy S focus more on ‘advancement of technologies’, ‘solid’ and ‘speedy’. The marketing communication mixes of both companies are consistent, congruent and properly delivered to reach the marketplace with real impacts. It is definitely crucial for managers or marketers to learn from these outstanding companies.

References

Bajaj, K. (2011, 9 June). Samsung Galaxy Pop: A stand-out among weak lineup of smart phones [Hardware]. The Economic Times (Online), 36.

Boehret, K. (2011, June 15). A Slender Tablet With Widescreen Ambitions; New Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Is Thinner and Lighter Than the iPad 2 but Lags Behind When It Comes to Battery Life. Wall Street Journal (Online), 19.

Bulik, B. (2008, October). APPLE. Advertising Age, 79(39), 29.

Business Wire. (2011, 24 May). Strategy Analytics: Samsung Galaxy S Overtakes the Apple iPhone in Japan. Business Wire, 18.

Businessline. (2011, June). The big banG! Businessline, 39.

Businessline. (2011, June). The world in your hands Samsung GALAXY S II. Businessline, 6.

Coget, J. (2011). The Apple Store Effect: Does Organizational Identification Trickle Down to Customers? The Academy of Management Perspectives, 25(1), 94.

Computer Weekly News. (2011, June). Wireless Communication Companies; Samsung Galaxy TabTM 10.1, World’s Thinnest Mobile Tablet, Makes Official Landing in U.S. Computer Weekly News,765.

Health & Beauty Close-Up. (2010, April) Communication Intelligence: Apple Marketing Efforts for iPad Emphasizes Company’s Advantage in Mobile Devices. Health & Beauty Close-Up, 31.

Kazak, S. (2010, 2 July). Amazing Apple marketing. McClatchy – Tribune Business News, 14.

Kotler, P. and Armstrong, G. (2004) Principles of Marketing, 10th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Kotler, P. and Keller, K.L. (2006) Marketing Management, 12th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Lazer, W. (1971). ‘Marketing Management: A Systems Perspective’. New York:  John Wiley & Sons.

Mehta, S., Maniam, B., & Leipnik, M. (2002). A Web-Based Integrated Marketing Communication Approach: An Exploratory Study. Allied Academies International Conference. Academy of Marketing Studies. Proceedings, 7 (2), 48.

Mies, G. (2011, June). Samsung Galaxy S 4G: Solid, Speedy. PC World, 29(6), 45.

Money Marketing . (2010). THE EXPERT: Goods vibrations. Money Marketing, 62.

Olof, H. (2006). Integrated marketing communication: from tactics to strategy. Corporate Communications, 11(1), 23-33.

Sunday Business Post.  (2011, June 19). Rise of the Androids. Sunday Business Post, 27.

The Economic Times. (2011, 14 June). Tech Queries: iPhone 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S II [Hardware]. The Economic Times (Online), 52.

The Pak Banker. (2010, March 8). India: iPhone set to surpass BlackBerry in mobile market. The Pak Banker, 13.

Wireless News. (2010, April). Communication Intelligence: Apple Marketing Efforts for iPad Support Company’s Advantage in Mobile Devices. Wireless News, 23.

 

 

 

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