Top Five Smart Phones and What Marketers Can Learn From Them

By on June 27, 2013

In this post our guest author Angie analyzes the smartphone market and the marketing strategies of the top two players – Apple and Samsung.

The top-grossing smart phones of 2012 have a few things in common but what is it about these devices that make them the best? There are lots of great smart phones out there, and often the deciding factor in what sells the most is that magic word: marketing. How did these top-grossing phone manufacturers surpass everything else on the market? What can be learned from their success?

These are the top five smart phones of 2012:

1)     Apple iPhone 5: 33 million sold.

2)    Samsung Galaxy sIII: 30 million sold.

3)    Apple iPhone 4S: 27.5 million sold.

4)    Apple iPhone 4: 17.6 million sold.

5)    Samsung Galaxy Note II: 8 million sold

It all comes down to Apple and Samsung.

Apple’s Marketing Strategy

Apple’s marketing strategy is twofold: focus on making products that are great for everybody and take advantage of hype.

Target Demographic: Anyone and Everyone

The marketing campaigns for the iPhone are characterized by a marked lack of a target demographic. Rather than focusing on a particular group, Apple believes that the iPhone is a phone that is good for anyone, or better: everyone. Thus, the iPhone’s marketing has focused on showcasing a product that is great for anyone who wants it.

Design: Minimal & Clean

Apple focuses on creating design-centric perfection in its designs. The product is able to speak for itself in advertisements. Many Apple commercials just show the phone, or an aspect of the phone. Because the design is minimalist and clean, this works for them.

Hype, Hype and More Hype

Months before a new iPhone is announced, rumors begin circulating on websites and speculations on features and release dates begin. This creates a culture for fans and lets excitement build over time. When Apple begins releasing ads for new iPhones, they start small and tease everyone. They release teaser “trailer” advertisements, and continue to let people speculate. When they finally release full details, fans are already completely worked up.

Limited Release

Another aspect of the iPhone hype machine is that pre-orders are typically limited, resulting in long lines at the Apple store when new models are released. The long lines are a form of advertising and hype in and of itself. Finally, Apple has curated relationships with a number of famous people such that iPhones get worked into TV shows without Apple even doing anything. They have reached a point with the iPhone that it essentially advertises itself.

Samsung’s Marketing Strategy

Focusing on what the iPhone DOESN’T do

Samsung’s smart phone strategy has more parts than Apple’s, but then, most companies don’t have the obsessive devotion to minimalism that Apple does. Samsung, as it was not the first smart phone on the market, spends a lot of its advertising budget attacking Apple. Although this takes various forms, a recent advertisement painted Apple as out of date and a “not as smart” phone because iPhones couldn’t share pictures or other files using near filed communication.

Cutting Edge Technology

When Samsung’s not bashing Apple, they center their advertisements on the new, cutting-edge technology that they bring to the smart phone market. If Apple chases minimalism, Samsung chases the latest in technology. Samsung’s latest phones capitalize on near field communication and gestures to control the phone. By showcasing what its hottest competitor can’t do, Samsung is able to establish itself as a front-runner of technology.

Social Media Marketing Vignettes

Finally, Samsung runs marketing campaigns that are much more integrated. They include social media and other web technologies to promote products, specifically in promoting to millennial. They also show their phones in context by creating vignettes of cool ways to use their phones or novel contexts in which new technologies might be best used.

So what can marketers take away from these two disparate approaches? When crafting a marketing campaign, you need to know what it is about your product that is going to appeal to consumers. Based on that, you can then determine the best way to reach your target demographic.

 Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet. Her mission is to help consumers stay financially savvy, and save some money with the best savings account.

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