Samsung has initiated its “It doesn’t take a genius” print ad campaign that disparages Apple and the iPhone 5.It also has initiated a series of TV commercials using the theme “The next big thing is already here.”
This puts down the iPhone and the customers lined up to buy it.
Earth to Samsung… do you really think that putting down a large segment of the smartphone market is the way to sell your products? More importantly, do you think this tactic is new? If you do, here are some headlines from companies that have disparaged Apple products.
- With Windows 8 On The Horizon Microsoft Declares War On Apple
- RIM’s PlayBook Marketing Campaign: Amateur Hour Is Over
- HP’s TouchPad: an Apple iPad killer?
- Nokia declares war on Apple iPhones and Android devices in US
- Google Declares War on Apple!
What were the results of these campaigns?
Based on Samsung’s copying the tactics used by others in their marketplace, one might presume that they have data that indicates these tactics work. In fact, the opposite is true. They have not worked for the companies that disparaged Apple, but they seem to have done wonders for Apple.
Apple’s record of success
Since these campaigns have been running, the recently-announced iPhone 5 sold out of its pre-order allocation of 2 million units within the first 24 hours. This pre-release demand more than doubled the initial sales of the iPhone 4S model last year. And what about Apple stock? The price has jumped more than 70% this year. As of this writing, the Apple’s share price is north of $700.
In fact, Apple seems to be firing on all cylinders. In Forbes, Eric Savitz says that Apple has a 63% share of the tablet shipment market. Thomas Hazlett points out in his recent Wall Street Journal post that the iPhone commands a 73% share of all smartphone profits. Most importantly, Apple is not standing still. It has the culture, momentum, and systems in place to continue innovating and executing. Putting it all together, Apple still reigns as the world’s most valuable brand and most valuable company in history.
Samsung making themselves look foolish
Good marketers know that when a company disparages another, it is far more often than not, a big mistake. When the competitor being disparaged is the most valuable company in history, it makes the detractor look even more foolish.
Why is it a big mistake?
There are so many reasons why “knocking” the competition is ineffective. Here are just a few.
- Free advertising. When companies disparage market leaders by name, it just confirms the market leader is the one to buy and makes a “free” positive brand impression for them in the minds of prospective buyers.
- No reasons to buy your product. Disparaging the competition does nothing to give buyers reasons to buy yours. In fact, many presume you are knocking the market leader because you want to ride its coattails.
- Makes you look bad. When you disparage competitors, many in the target audience think negatively about you. Here is what Luke Hopewell says in Gizmodo Australia, “Look, I’m just going to come out and say it. It’s what we’re all thinking, right? Is just a bit petty that Samsung is attacking people who line up for Apple products when nobody is game to line up for Samsung’s?”
- When you “put down” popular products, you are putting down the people that like them. Those you insult will not be inclined to buy your products, and they will spread the negative word about you to their friends – resulting in a negative word-of-mouth pyramid saying bad things about your company and products.
- Makes you look arrogant and insecure at the same time. Consumers learn at an early age that good companies don’t “bad-mouth” competitors. Leading companies know their products are good and have no reason to talk negatively about competitors.
- Puts a target on your back. When you tell the marketplace that your products are better than popular competitors, you are putting a target on your own back. Many will go out of their way to find defects and prove you wrong.
What should Samsung and other companies do?
When faced with formidable competitors such as Apple, what should companies do if they really believe their products are better? They should focus on the benefits and advantages of their own products. A successful approach is to use the “elephant’s trunk” strategy. It goes something like this, “We give you what the other popular smart phones give you (this neutralizes the competition) plus we give you “this” (you would replace the word “this” with the unique advantages of your product).”
Whatever you do, do not mention competitors by name, and do not disparage them. This only backfires as we have seen with RIM, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, and others. Apple should send a thank you note to Samsung for running, and paying for, ads that will only help iPhone 5 and iPad sales.
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