Chapter 1- Introduction
Over the last two decades, there has been an increased recognition on the value and importance of brands and strategies related to branding, as evidenced from the countless literatures and studies performed on this topic. According to Abimbola (2010), today’s business world demands a greater level of understanding on the concept of brands as a source of competitive advantage. Worm (2011) also recognized and highlighted the tremendous benefits in branding and its effect on the overall performance of a business. Based on their assertions, brands are considered as a crucial business asset that has the ability to make business organizations powerful and successful in the consumer markets. Aluko and Odularu (2013) also added that brands may be regarded as part of the consumers’ way of life. [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]
Given the intensity of competition in the present business environment, there arose the need for business organizations to acknowledge the significance of implementing specific brand strategies. Srivastava (2009) talked about the value of executing a solid brand management strategy that may be used for initiating as well as maintaining a continuous dialogue with the consumers. There are also ample literatures that prove the importance of implementing effective brand strategies in achieving a company’s business goals (Vargo & Lusch, 2004; Vlachvei, Notta, & Efterpi, 2012). Interestingly, Berthon, Ewing, and Napoli (2008) asserted that only business firms that have clear and well-defined branding strategies are the ones that tend to achieve their business goals. Similarly, Uggla (2012) discussed about the strategic importance of devising a brand strategy. He argued that for a brand strategy to effectively contribute to the attainment of the company’s goals, it is important to integrate the organization’s branding strategies with their overall business strategy. [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]
In this dissertation study, the aim is to conduct a comparison of the marketing and branding strategies of two known multinational companies, Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Company, and evaluate how these companies’ strategies influence consumer preferences and consumer behaviour. Apple Inc. is a multinational technology company that is in the business of designing, developing and selling computer software, consumer electronics, hardware products such as smartphones, personal computers and tablets and other online services (Rossignol, 2016). Samsung Electronics Ltd., on the other hand, is a multinational electronics company that manufactures smartphones, mobile phones as well as a wide variety of electronic components (Garside, 2013). These two renowned companies are known for their effective marketing and branding strategies that enabled them to maintain their market leadership in the mobile industry as well as consistently grow their share of the market in the UK (Marketing Minds, 2016; O’Leary, 2016). [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. Hence, it may be asserted that Samsung’s branding strategy is consumer-centric (Jung, 2014). Moreover, it is interesting that when it comes to marketing Apple and Samsung’s smartphone products, both brands focus on consumer experience. Specifically, the Apple iPhone’s branding strategy pays particular attention on how the experience of using an iPhone makes a customer feel while Samsung’s branding strategy focuses on how the use of a smartphone serves as a gateway for customers to experience a bigger galaxy and world of experiences (Marketing Minds, 2016; O’Leary, 2016).
Indeed, by conducting a comparative analysis of the marketing and branding strategies of the Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones, this would benefit both organizations as they would be able to acquire practical and useful insights on how to devise better plans that will improve their strategies in marketing and branding their smartphone products and effectively target new consumer markets. It is also important to conduct this study so that both companies will be able to evaluate how their current strategies influence consumer preferences and behavior, which is vital to their success. The following are the research questions that will be answered in this study:
- What are the Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Smartphones’ marketing and branding strategies?
- What are the similarities and differences between Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Smartphones’ marketing and branding strategies?
- How do these companies’ marketing and branding strategies influence consumer preferences and consumer behaviour?
To achieve the research aims and objectives which center on performing a comparative analysis between Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Smartphones’ marketing and branding strategies, the primary method of investigation will be adopted in this study is a combination of qualitative and quantitative research studies. Particularly, this will entail the use of semi-structured interviews, participatory observation and the collation of relevant company documents and reports about the Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Smartphones’ marketing and branding strategies as well as survey research methods.
Chapter 2- Literature Review
The aim of this study is to conduct a comparison of the marketing and branding strategies of two known multinational companies, Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Company. In addition, this study intends to evaluate how these companies’ strategies influence consumer preferences and consumer behaviour. In line with this research objective, this literature review chapter presents relevant literatures and research studies which center on the importance of marketing and branding strategies as well as the function of these strategies in influencing and shaping consumer preferences and behaviour.
2.2 Brands and Branding
In today’s brand-oriented business industry, the importance of brands is undeniable. According to Hansen and Christensen (2003), whenever consumers plan to purchase a product, they usually think in terms of brands. Phillips (2006) defined “brands” as a product’s means of identification. In addition, he described a brand as that which refers to the adopted name given by a merchant or a manufacturer to a specific service or product for purposes of distinction and/or as a form of trademark. Mearns (2007) [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited].
According to Goodson (2012), building brands is necessary as it builds value for businesses. When a brand is properly positioned in the market, it becomes very easy for customers to remember and be enticed to purchase it. As it has been observed, the best brands in the world have a remarkable capability of breaking through the consumers’ minds in terms of creating the need to be purchased and enticing customers to do so. Keller and Lehmann (2004) also emphasized the many other key functions of brands, one of which is the fact that brands serve as a financial asset to many companies. [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited].
As asserted by Pay, White, and Zwart (1996), the importance of implementing branding strategies has become an accepted norm in any marketing activity. Davis (2009) also stated that nowadays, branding has become an important backbone in any business as it helps define the position of a company in a market, and identifies the vision and direction for the business. After a brand strategy has been created by a company, this acts as the main blueprint for the business which defines the specific brand values and audiences the company must target (Davis, 2009). Kotler and Keller (2012) gave an interesting definition on the concept by stating that ‘branding is a process of providing meaning to a specific product by means of creating as well as shaping a brand within the mind of the consumers.
[Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. Moreover, Baeva (2011) asserted that a branding strategy is crucial in increasing the brand equity of a company’s main product and is pivotal in securing the future of the business. By coming up with a branding strategy plan, a company is able to identify the brand elements that are most important in order for it to create a feasible and appropriate brand proposition in reference to the target market (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006).
2.3 The Importance of Brand Strategies
[Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. Clifton (2009) asserted that in order to devise an effective brand strategy, there are certain elements that need to be considered. One is brand positioning. It is important that the positioning of a brand is crystal clear, succinct and easy to communicate so as to enable the customers to understand what the brand can offer them (Janiszewska & Insch, 2012). Mearns (2007) also added that the value proposition of a brand must be clearly communicated in order for the consumers to notice the point of difference between the brand and others that are similar to it in the market.
[Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. According to Mearns (2007), determining the personality of a brand is crucial in devising a brand strategy as through it, the customers will be able to identify and recall the specific qualities and traits of a brand that distinguishes it from other competing brands. In addition to having a clear brand positioning, value proposition and brand personality, it is also essential for companies that devises a brand strategy to bring their positioning to life as asserted by Clifton (2009). This is because one of the key reasons why consumers purchase a brand, is because a brand enables them to come up with a set of expectations. A brand serves as the company’s promise to the consumers and reduces the risk of them simply buying any product without the assurance that their expectations will be met. Hence, [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited].
Another significance in executing the right brand strategies in a company stems from the profitability aspect that it brings. This is where the concept of ‘brand equity’ proves its relevance. According to Stahl et al (2012), brand equity relates to the brand name’s value. In other words, this refers to how much the consumers are willing to pay for a specific brand. In principle, the more the customers are willing to pay for a particular product/ brand, the more brand equity that product has and consequently, the higher its profitability. Tuominem (1999) also stressed the importance of brand equity by means of creating value to the consumers in terms of enhancing the processing of information, building consumer confidence in making purchase decision, and reinforcing their purchasing action. [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited].
2.4 How Branding Strategies Influence Consumer Behaviour and Preferences
There are plenty of research studies that prove the significant influence of branding strategies on consumer behaviour and preferences. It has also been established that many marketers use specific branding strategies with the intent and goal of influencing consumers’ perceptions and attitudes towards a brand and ultimately, stimulating actual purchase behaviour to increase their sales and profit (Zhang, 2015). [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. This implies that when a consumer perceives that the brand’s personality fits his own self-identity or self-concept, the brand automatically becomes a symbol of his personality which he would most likely purchase to reinforce his own self-concept (Ahmad & Thyagaraj, 2015).
Brand image is another element that significantly influences consumer preferences and behaviour. According to Zhang (2015), brand image relates to the consumers’ feelings and perceptions about the brand which serves as a primary driver for brand equity. Apparently, brand image has a huge influence on consumer behaviour as a product that has a strong brand image is more likely to be a ‘top of mind’ brand for the consumers. [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. In order for a brand to possess a strong brand image and high brand equity, companies need to ensure that their branding strategies are crafted in such a way that the customers are well-acquianted with the brand and at the same time, the brand is able to exert a unique, strong and favorable association in the customers’ memory (Ahmad & Thyagaraj, 2015; Hasan, 2008).
But apart from the important focus on the brand image and brand personality of a product, it is also necessary to emphasize the significance of emotional branding as part of an effective branding strategy. [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. The author, Barakat (2014) defined emotional branding as the process of building a brand in such a way that the brand is able to appeal directly on the consumer’s emotional needs, aspirations, ego and emotional state. Its purpose is to establish a bond between the product and the consumer through the use of emotions. By utilizing emotional branding as part of the strategy, companies are able to acquire a more favorable response from the consumers as [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited].
2.5 Apple’s Branding Strategies
According to Glenn (2009), [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. In addition, the Apple brand also focuses on its core competencies which enable the company to deliver an exceptional and unique consumer experience through the use of superb and quality user interfaces which are distinct from competition ([Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited] Apple products look good on the inside but also on the outside by focusing on how it looks and feels from the perspective of the user. Indeed, by establishing a healthy fusion between functionality and aesthetics, the Apple brand is able to create a revolutionary user experience that distinguishes itself on top of the competitors (Minter Dial, 2016).
Moreover, Wang (2016) asserts that the Apple branding strategy has also fully embraced and made use of emotional branding as part of its global strategy. [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. He stated that Apple purposely designed the products to be centered on the people or its users. It has taken into consideration what the people really need and what they secretly desire to have. By tapping into this emotional aspect, the Apple brand was able to establish a community of its own, a loyal following who wants to consistently get into the sensory and emotional experience they get from using Apple products (Gear, 2002; Wang, 2016).
Interestingly, Apple’s branding strategy remains consistent for all its products, from the Mac, to the iPad, iPod and the iPhone. [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. As such, the challenge for the Apple company especially for the year 2017 is how it will be able to create a brand new, compelling and unique-selling iPhone that would encourage customers to make the necessary upgrade (Leswing, 2016).
2.6 Samsung’s Branding Strategies
Samsung’s branding strategy, according to O’Leary (2016), is in line with the company’s vision of becoming a top innovation company that has a bold attitude and approach in technology. The Samsung brand wants to be known as a technology-provider that dares and achieves impossible things and gives people the power and the freedom. [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited] the branding strategy is anchored on the philosophy of a “strong design” which is characterized with simplicity, intuitiveness, adaptiveness and efficiency and, (4) the branding strategy is focused on creating designs the reflect the lifestyles of the users (Jung, 2014).
O’Leary (2016) also adds that the Samsung’s phone products serve as a gateway to new consumer experiences- from watching TV, to using it together with the Samsung tablet, etc. Indeed, the branding strategy of Samsung reinforces its goal of becoming a pioneer in technology (O’Leary, 2016; Jung, 2014). [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited] Samsung has consistently introduced a number of innovations which influenced and made a direct impact on the overall market for tablets and smartphones (Yeung, 2016). Under the brand ‘Samsung Galaxy’, the Samsung brand was able to create and launch smartphone products that are specifically designed for every consumer from all walks of life, from the young and price-sensitive consumers to the consumers of higher economic status (Gartenberg, 2017).
Consequently, because of the [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited] smart, quality, class, efficient, productive, easy to use and others; on the other hand, some of its emotional brand associations are: trustworthy, cool, bold, dependable, reliable and status symbol, to name a few (Espiritu, 2016).
Chapter 3- Methodology and Methods
3.1 Research Philosophy and Paradigms of Inquiry
In this study, the main research philosophy and paradigm of inquiry that will be applied is pragmatism. According to Creswell and Plano (2007), pragmatism is a research philosophy which stems from the view that having to choose from among different positions (i.e., ontology, epistemology, axiology, etc.) is considered an unrealistic practice in research. As argued by Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2015), the set [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited]. This is even more relevant in cases wherein the research question does not suggest quite clearly of whether to adopt an interpretive or a positive philosophy. In these rare cases, such as in the context of this study, the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods is necessary (Creswell & Plano, 2007; Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2015). In addition, [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited] questions fail to clearly suggest a specific research philosophy to be adopted. This is the case in this study wherein the research questions do not specifically suggest which philosophy or research paradigm to apply; hence, both qualitative and quantitative research will be employed in this study.
3.3 Research Strategy and Methods
In order to answer the research questions and address the objectives of this study, both qualitative and quantitative research approaches will be applied. [Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited].
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[Access to some parts of this dissertation has been limited].