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Samsung going the smart way for smartphone retail

At In-Store Asia 2012, Alok Agrawal, COO, Cheil Worldwide, SW Asia, presented a case study of how Samsung Mobile has increased its retail presence with various innovations

Neha Saraiya | Delhi | January 20, 2012

At the seventh edition of In-Store Asia held in Delhi on February 16, Alok Agrawal, COO, Cheil Worldwide, SW Asia, talked about how brand Samsung has delivered a consistent and effective brand vocabulary across diverse retail formats.

In a session titled ‘Smartphone -- leadership through smart retail’, Agrawal began by taking the audiences back to 2007 when Samsung Mobiles had made its entry into retail. Rival brands then dominated the handset market acting as a strong barrier to its entry. In order to establish Samsung’s footprint with a strong retail presence, firstly, Samsung launched SMPP stores, a one-stop shop for the full range of its handsets. Next, to win trade and customer trust, the Korean brand started allocating 20-30 per cent display shelf compared to its competition. It also invested in designing branding inside the stores. Gradually, the brand visibility increased from Tier 1 to even Tier 4 cities as Samsung Mobile increased its presence through hundreds of SMPP stores.

This was further augmented by a deeper market penetration to Tier 5 and Tier 6 cities with the launch of SIS (shop-in-shop) across thousands of stores. Cheil also administered a signage installation in MBOs across the country for greater visibility of the brand.

Talking about the route adopted for greater visibility, Agrawal stated that the ‘Modular fixture design approach’ was implemented. In anticipation of rapid growth in demand, modular fixtures were developed for speedy installation. For store environment, fixtures, colour and materials were used keeping in mind Indian conditions and customer taste.

On the retail backend, a call centre was set up for fixture-related complaints from dealers and regional branches. Agrawal said that a “Repair and maintenance” programme was initiated on pan-India basis to maintain the existing stores and SIS fixtures in shape. These efforts led to an increase in Samsung’s market share from 2.5 per cent in 2007 to 26 per cent in 2011.

Agrawal then talked about the paradigm shift when smart technology took centrestage. He said, “Technology is about Inspirations and Creations.” He stated that with the focus of consumers shifting to smartphones, there has been a change in the retail environment also. Thus, the question was how to make the best use of stores to augment communication between consumers and the brand without any physical barrier. He said, “Consumers are more inclined to experience products more than ever, [to obtain] their own perception and appreciation of products and benefits. They don’t want to just buy, they want to play.”

Agrawal also emphasised on the new role of stores that are no longer merely a commercial place but a venue to experience the brand. Thus, with the launch of Samsung’s smartphones Galaxy and Wave in 2010, the challenge for Cheil increased manifold. The agency had to not only enhance the image of Samsung as a premium brand but also provide consumers with integrated product experience and increase the brand loyalty at the same time.

The strategic directions followed by Cheil started with the incorporation of ‘Smartphone Experience Zone’ that provided dedicated space for consumers to interact with live products and learn the product benefits with clarity. This led to a ‘hands-on experience’ and ‘active customer exploration’.

Additionally, Samsung also set up ‘One stop retail service’ with the establishment of ‘Smartphone Exclusive Stores’, ‘Samsung Brand Shops’, ‘Smartphone Experience Zones’ and ‘Smartphone Cafes’.

For the Galaxy Note launch, mall activation through ‘kiosks’ and ‘retail extension counters’ reached out to millions of consumers.

Towards the end of his presentation, Agrawal mentioned about how Samsung is poised to be a leader in exclusive store retail space by March end. “At Cheil we are constantly redefining retail experiences. Now we look at scaling new heights for Samsung, starting January, with more retail store space to be added by March end, with thousands more SIS to be installed.”

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