Advertising has for many years been considered as a way for companies to communicate with the consumers and influence their purchasing decisions. This basically implies that for a long time, corporations were mostly responsible for guiding the people to buy their products. Recent trends in the market, however, show some level of defiance amongst the consumers as they try to craft out a brand identity that appreciates their ‘individuality’ and, thus, represents who they are as people. Businesses have lost the power to decide who buys their goods. Currently, consumers choose the products that they can identify with, and companies just have to go with it in order to make the profits. This is especially possible in the age of the internet where online communities get to share information and, as a result, people get to market their favorite brands to their circles. This paper relies on Samsung brand and Red bull product to analyze how companies use various strategies to popularize their brands. Moreover, it compares and contrasts the advertising techniques that Samsung and Red bull use and the marketing strategies proposed in Walker’s book Buying in.
I was introduced to Samsung products through the Samsung Galaxy S1, which, at the time, was incredibly beautiful and fast, too. This was back in 2010 when there were already quite a number of smartphones in the market. The company’s advertising lauded this phone for its high quality and cutting edge technology. The tag line stated that ‘It’s not a phone, It’s a Galaxy.’ I had not had the privilege of owning previous versions of Samsung products, so I did not get what the tag line meant, especially in terms of rating the Samsung Galaxy S1 against its predecessor models. What I knew, however, was that the Samsung Galaxy S1 was an incredible phone which was worth its price. With a full screen touch capability and very high internet speed, this phone looked like something I would love to own. And, I made a point of acquiring one soon after I had first encountered it. Another impressive aspect about this phone for me was that not many people had it at the time. In fact, not many individuals had smartphones that made the phone even more special. Since then, the competition has grown significantly, and I have used a lot of other smartphones including LG, Motorola, HTC and Apple. However, I still remain in the Samsung corner in as far as smartphones are concerned since their products are all about knowing what you want and having a lot of options within your favorite brand. I also enjoy the company’s customer service considering that I own a lot of other Samsung products too. Standing out from the crowd and being the Galaxy fan makes Samsung my kind of brand.
Red Bull has been in the market for quite some time now, and the fact that as a company, it has stopped focusing on direct sales and started creating a brand image seems to have worked out well. The story about Red Bull’s murketing strategy is very intriguing. Ordinarily, there would be no connection between an energy drink and a wind powered kite board ride from Florida to Cuba. Nevertheless, a lot of people got to look at Red Bull as something that they would like to be associated with after these kite board rides. Red Bull is an energy drink, and it takes a special strength to actually ride a wind powered kite board for all the distance between Florida and Cuba. The masses seem to have been fascinated by the courage and the strength of the kite board riding team, and, consequently, the majority of them have indulged in Red Bull as their brand of choice.
Walker’s Desire Code got me to look at the actual implications of taking Red Bull rather than making product associations with its murketing strategies (Walker, 2008). Buying decisions are often made on the basis of liking a product, rather than using it or even needing it. For example, people are supposed to buy drinks when they are thirsty. But spending $3 on a can of Red Bull requires more than just thirst considering that there are a lot of cheaper alternatives that could even cost less than a dollar. After reading the Desire Code, I have got to understand that my current interest in Red Bull is primarily baseless. I would be willing to spend $3 on an energy drink that will definitely not take me to Cuba and yet, I am still inspired to purchase it. My thoughts and feelings towards Red Bull have significantly changed as I now know that when I buy a can of Red Bull it is not because I have to buy it but rather because I like Red Bull.
Samsung’s advertising was mostly contemporary as the company was trying to position the Samsung brand as a global leader in technological innovations. The organization mostly targeted high end customers who were looking for a high quality and unique experience in their mobile devices. And, in doing so, they kept using product oriented advertising aimed at positioning the Samsung smartphones, tablets and PCs as the mobile devices for the high end market (Walker, 2008). With time, however, the company has changed their marketing approach to engage different customers with various needs. It can be noted that while Samsung has some quite expensive brands such as the Galaxy S series, it has also developed a lot of entry level phones for the middle and low ends of the market.
The past few years have, however, been not so pleasant for the Samsung enthusiasts. Rather than focusing on new ways to engage their customers civilly, this company and, unfortunately, most of their loyal customers, has been trolling Apple a lot especially in the social media. While the organization could be busy coming up with new ways to engage the Galaxy S series fanatics, it has been releasing a lot of attacks on iPhones and the Apple brand as a whole. Strangely though, this has worked. Most of Samsung customers are now more loyal to the Samsung brand than ever, and I would not think of buying an iPhone any time soon. It can, thus, be stated that the company has used the consumers’ craving for superiority, authenticity and honesty to get them to stick with the Samsung brand at a time when competition is really fierce from Apple. Samsung may not have deliberately invited its customers to troll Apple, but the company may have started it, and this activity has gone viral amongst a large number of Samsung lovers. It has served to bring the customers closer together, while also allowing them to buy in to the Samsung way.
When compared to Red Bull, it can be noted that Samsung is not really that different. Red Bull uses murketing to open up their markets and let in customer segments that they were initially not targeting. This means that the company is not focusing on marketing the Red Bull as a drink but rather as a statement of who one is. People buying Red Bull in this case are adventurous and courageous as the team that was on kite boards from Florida to Cuba. Similarly, the internet trolling is an experience that has brought Samsung consumers together based on their passion and ability to defend their beliefs (Walker, 2008). While ‘It’s not a phone. It’s a Galaxy’ is all about knowing what one wants and going for it, standing together against Apple has been an incredibly real experience for most Samsung customers. We were not just defending a company, but rather our choice of phones, tablets and laptops among other things. This may have been a disappointing phenomenon at first, but it ended up creating a Samsung movement that will see many of us remaining loyal to the brand for a very long time.
When asked about which form of advertising I would prefer, I would, however, go for Red Bull’s murketing strategy. This is not because it has been more successful, or ethical, because Samsung’s has been successful and considerably ethical too. In fact, both Samsung and Red Bull can be said to have used marketing considering that the trolling has got a lot of people interested in what Samsung was doing and what it had been doing in the past as well. Nevertheless, the reason why I think Red Bull’s marketing is a better advertising method is because it seems more acceptable. It would be difficult for any company to just start a trolling campaign against competitors without a good basis, and not many businesses could have a solid basis for trolling like Samsung did. It is, thus, better to rely on creativity and use events or activities like wind powered kite board rides to generate a buzz in the market.
Murketing is all about letting the customers create their own narratives rather than telling them what to think. This allows anyone to buy anything without having to feel like they are being ‘brainwashed’. For Red Bull, murketing involved getting a bunch of youths to engage in an incredible and daring adventure. For Samsung, on the other hand, it turned into starting an internet attack on the Apple brand. Both companies were rather unconventional, and yet, both have been able to register positive outcomes from their marketing strategies.