Smartphones now form part of people’s daily life in Belgium. A few major operators compete with one another on the smartphone market. However, one competition in terms of media and technology is at the centre of attention. This competition involves two giants, one of which is American and the other South Korean, namely Apple and Samsung. The Best Brands survey performed by GfK at Serviceplan’s request covers these brands via the “telecommunications” sector, which includes both smartphones and mobile phones, as well as tablets, and all other related accessories.
The size of the sector is significant, to such a point that it has two brands ranked in the Top 15 Best Product Brands general ranking. However, as can happen when two actors are so dominant, other brands find it harder to exist.
It is not so much the brand awareness which is the problem. In fact, in addition to our two market leaders, namely Samsung and Apple, three other brands are obtaining results of over 90%. These brands are ACER, Microsoft & Nokia, and Sony. Huawei is close behind this initial group, and its development will be interesting to watch over the coming years.
What is interesting to note is that the general ranking is not based on the rational aspect of these brands, i.e. the “share of wallet”, which includes market share, the price premium, and being the first choice, or not entirely at least. The two leading brands actually stand out at an emotional level, i.e. the “share of soul”, since Samsung largely exceeds Apple at that level.
An initial differentiating factor is the type of relationship that binds brands and consumers. 7 out of every 10 people say that they have a strong relationship with Samsung. Whereas, we are recording results well below average for Apple, since less than one out of every two people says the same thing about the Californian brand. If we look more closely, we realise that many respondents say that they have a weaker relationship with Apple. Three times as many people say that they have no relationship with the brand compared with Samsung.
This is probably partly explained by the price premium, which is much higher for Apple than for Samsung. In this case, we are actually talking about all communications-related devices, and not just the trendy smartphones. We must recognize that Samsung offers a wider choice to people on tight budgets.
Another factor that may influence the relationship is the experiences that the consumer has of the various brands. In this case, we will measure the most recent experiences, without determining their specific nature. Experiences with Samsung are perceived as more positive and memorable than those with Apple. Furthermore, Apple has a tendency to record a higher rate of negative experiences. When we talk about experiences, these are not just the purchase of the product or its use. They also include communications, news, or what people say about it. Moreover, since social media enable everyone to express their point of view and shared experiences tend to be amplified, it is sometimes hard for brands to control that aspect.