2018, was just an average year for Samsung Mobiles in India but this year it is expected that the company will go all guns blazing to attain glory and capture a significant market share in the mid-end smartphone segment. But will it succeed?
Back in November 2017, we had written an editorial piece where we had talked about Samsung's need to respect the changing Indian consumer, who is not only younger but also much different from the consumer that was in the market five years back. On how it needed to make the best use of its years of experience, market leadership and a strong network to ensure a winning run in the Indian market. In retrospect, we believe we got it right and would blame some of the 'harshness' on Samsung for what seemed to us to be its slow moves to adapt to the rising threats from Xiaomi and OnePlus.
Looking back at 2018, at best we can say it was a decent year for Samsung where it did enough to maintain its hold in the premium smartphone segment, but in the entry and mid-level price segment, where the maximum action happens, it was found wanting.
Jump to 2019. Finally, Samsung India is all set to dial M to strengthen its position in entry and mid-level smartphone market. Will the Galaxy M series, which is launching on January 28 in India, be a Mediocre move or a masterstroke? While time will tell us about the move, it seems safe to predict that the galaxy M will carry a lot more hope and heft behind it than some of the more recent attempts by Samsung to maintain its presence in the segments.
Though the recent leaks, rumours and quotes shared by Samsung Officials indicate a masterstroke in the making, here are the top 3 reasons that we can point to, based on our analysis and understanding of the consumer behaviour and market.
Catching the attention of millennials
It is a well-known fact that the majority of the smartphone-buying in India happens between Rs 8,000 and Rs 20,000. A segment in which Samsung was simply getting outgunned by the likes of Xiaomi and Honor till the last year.
This time around, Samsung’s new Galaxy M-Series smartphones will target young millennials, who want a value for money device. M Series is rumoured to include three phones - Galaxy M10, Galaxy M20, and Galaxy M30 and it is expected that the cheapest smartphone among the three will have a price tag of below Rs 10,000 mark.
We are of the opinion that this move, though delayed, will be welcomed by young Indian buyers because apart from pricing and specification Samsung has an extensive service network as well where the majority of its competitors are found wanting. More importantly, the resilience of brand Samsung has clearly demonstrated a loyal, trusting consumer base that will still buy the brand if the product is right.
Giving wings to online model
Samsung India has already confirmed the Galaxy M-Series smartphones will be an online marketplace exclusive product -Amazon India and the Samsung Online Shop, in the first phase. So why is it a big deal?
Traditionally Samsung has been an offline player who has invested heavily in the retail market and since the last one year online has been growing by leaps and bound, but Samsung had a weak presence over there. Not because its products were not available in online market, but since the company heavily relied on the offline market the price of smartphones were not competitive enough as distribution cost in offline markets jacks up the price of the device. In fact, Samsung's heavy legacy investments in the offline market were one reason it found itself on the wrong foot versus competitors. Also, it didn’t make any sense for having a disparity in offline and online prices of the smartphones because that would have made the retailers unhappy. So in a nutshell, an exclusive online strategy, to start with, and 360-degree push from the company is expected to bring in the good returns.
Trying to go beyond the expectation
Last year Samsung did launch a couple of smartphone in A and J series which were priced less than Rs 20,000 mark but were found wanting in specs and features when compared to similarly priced smartphones available in the market from other brands.
Again if we look at the leaked specs of Galaxy M series, it seems Samsung has put its foot on the accelerator. Name the feature or specs a consumer would like to have in his smartphone without spending a bomb is expected to be made available in the new series. Just to name a few features - fast charging, better optics, display, design, bigger battery, triple camera and remote assistance in case of any issues with the device.
Having highlighted the reason what could make 2019 a Happy new year for Samsung, there are few issues that Samsung need to take care off as well. First and foremost they need to speed up the roll-out time for major software updates for their devices. Secondly, over the years, we have seen Samsung phones slowing down after more than 50 - 60% percent of phone memory is utilised. We hope Samsung's new series cheer up its loyal users and hopefully the new set of consumers who will entrust their faith in the brand. 2019 could yet be the year the giant showed who's boss in India.