When you have two or three major brands all fighting it out for the same market share, it can generate some really creative strategic marketing ideas. With Apple’s iPhone still the brand to beat in this market, its rivals have been working on ways to chip away at its market share. Let’s take a look at their methods.
1. ‘Fortunate’ Timing
The most strategic piece of marketing and PR trickery can be the ‘fortunately’ timed piece of news. Of course most brands involved would deny that they’re strategic marketing at all. When your rival is receiving a lot of attention, or making a big announcement, it can be really helpful if something positive about your company miraculously appears in the news at the same time.
This good fortune struck Samsung just days after the iPhone 7’s launch. A leak suggested that its next iPhone rival, the Galaxy SIV, would be unveiled in February 2013. The claim was quickly denied, but the news was out just long enough to take some of the attention away from Apple’s release.
2. ‘Vague’ Referencing
This is another strategic marketing measure that brands will often deny is marketing at all. In press statements, advertisements and online campaigns, big brands will often make vague suggestions about their products superiority over their rival. Another iPhone rival, Nokia, got involved in this with a tweet to promote their new Lumia 920 phone. They tweeted some of its key features and ended the tweet with, ‘No, it doesn’t take a genius’.
3. Outright Confrontation
The big player in this recent run of rivalry marketing has been Samsung. Since the announcement of the iPhone 7, they have been aggressively and bluntly marketing their Galaxy S7 as a better phone. They started with a poster ad listing their phone’s stats against Apple’s above the slogan, ‘it doesn’t take a genius’. This slogan, like the tweet from Nokia, directly outlines Samsung’s marketing message here. Their phone is better, so why buy an iPhone?
That same theme runs through a series of videos that Samsung has used in direct response to Apple releases. The ads play on the loyalty consumers show towards Apple’s phone and contain further references to their phones’ technical superiority. The videos hit a lot of the right advertising notes; they’re direct, funny and make a strong argument. But there may be a tinge of irony here.
The Irony of Rivalry Marketing
The loyalty those videos poke fun at, is exactly what Samsung are trying to achieve. And because of Apple’s previous successes, it’s difficult loyalty to break. Apple have built on the loyalty of fans with effective marketing of their own product. Every time they release a new product they talk about it in an unrelentingly positive light, without referencing rivals at all. Customers already happy with previous experiences stick with Apple because they trust them. Even if the others have better specs.
Meanwhile rivals have been forced to market to those loyal fans. They’ve done this by essentially insulting the product the fans loyal to and that loyalty itself. It’s a tactic that’s not likely to convert many Apple stalwarts. But it might swing consumers on the fence in Samsung’s favour.
There are two strategic marketing lessons here. The first is that if you’re clever in the way you market, and use a combination of tactics, it is possible to distract from a big rival. The other is that when it comes to strategic marketing, it’s always better to be at the top of the market than trying to climb up.