Samsung has been increasingly underperforming in market share, customer attraction, and brand awareness. As Samsung releases the S9 for pre-sale earlier this week, the company is becoming more marginalized in China.
Samsung’s performance in China over the past three years
It only took Samsung three years to decline from a mobile leader to a lightweight in China.
In 2014, Samsung ranked second in market share with 58.4 million phones. Samsung mobile phone shipments into the Chinese market fell by 35 percent in 2015, when it sold only 38.1 million phones, taking 9.1 percent of the market share.
In 2015, one year before the Galaxy Note 7 was released, Samsung was in decline in the Chinese market.
IHS Technology data showed that in 2015, there were 417 million total shipments of smartphones in China, with Xiaomi, Huawei, Apple, Vivo, and OPPO as the top five phone manufacturers.
In the second half of 2016, problems with the Note 7 loomed over Samsung. In 2017, it only shipped a little over 10 million handsets, fewer than that during the first six months of 2016.
Comparing Samsung with its rivals
Chinese brands have been performing greatly over the past few years. In 2016, Counterpoint reported the annual growth rates of OPPO (109 percent), Vivo (78 percent), Gionee (21 percent) and Huawei (21 percent).
Those growths were partly due to Samsung Galaxy Note 7 explosions. Since then, Samsung never climbed back into the top five mobile phone ranks in the Chinese market. Even in 2017, when the Chinese mobile phone market saw a total of 491 million units shipped, Samsung only shipped a little more than 10 million.
On the night of March 6, Samsung held a launch conference for its new flagship S9 in Guangzhou, and played advertisements on the Guangzhou Tower and the Liede Bridge.
Samsung tried to regain its market share with celebrity endorsements. Many Chinese handset manufacturers, such as Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo, achieved great results with this strategy. Samsung invited Chinese celebrities Boran Jing, Yaven Zhu and Chenyu Hua to attend the launch ceremony. According to industry insiders, Samsung has invited more stars to endorse the new flagship.
A loyal Samsung fan bluntly stated, “Samsung has changed”. While the Chinese market has been challenging for Samsung, Samsung has not given up. It is uncertain, however, whether these localized and advertising strategies win back Chinese consumers.