Samsung’s latest offering in the Galaxy M series – the Galaxy M40 is an Innovation Powerhouse. It comes packed with an Infinity-O display which was earlier only available in the company’s flagship Galaxy S10 and a triple camera setup that comes with a 32-megapixel sensor.
Asim Warsi, SVP, Mobile Business, Samsung India speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the company’s latest innovative offering in the form of Galaxy M40 in the Indian market.
What are your views on the densely populated mid-range market?
If we look at mid-range from a price tag between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 20,000, it is the hottest segment right now, especially if I look at the online market. There are lots of choices for consumers and that’s a great thing.
Even for the incumbent players, it just keeps the industry, the innovation, and the differentiation needle ticking. We are working very hard and closely with consumers to figure out what’s the next and what’s the differentiated experiences they’re looking for.
Galaxy M series was designed around the online shopper and buyer and it has hit a sweet nerve with the consumers. They loved it. The whole M series adoption and sales have been resounding. We’re, on 2x growth year to date over last year.
What is the target audience for the M Series? How is it going to consolidate Samsung’s position in India?
Galaxy M series was launched for the online shoppers in India, who are slightly different in terms of their age and consumption patterns. The online shoppers of smartphones comprise of Gen Z and young millennials. They are very discerning buyers, their knowledge and research and assessment of technology and phones is fairly evolved.
So keeping all those factors in mind, Galaxy M series has been conceived around those kind of consumers and their kind of device needs and buying behaviour. We launched Galaxy M10 and M20 in February and M30 in March. And in the short span, we have sold more than 2 million devices. So in a reasonably short span, Galaxy M series adoption has been nothing less than a vertical take-off, and has been better than our expectations. And we had set out an objective for ourselves to double our online business in 2019 over the previous year and I’m glad to tell you that as of now we are exactly there.
We are at 2x the business year to date. We are going to stay focused and do lots more within this year to keep up with that growth rate. Coming to Galaxy M40, it is everything that Galaxy M Series espouses and has built up on, which is a very powerful device with powerful experiences. We’re launching Infinity-O display in Galaxy M40, which was earlier only available in the Galaxy S10. The triple camera in Galaxy M40 comes with a 32-megapixel sensor. Additionally, Galaxy M40 comes with a Snapdragon 675 processor for all the gaming, multitasking, etc.
Galaxy M40 is the flagship in the M Series and will be priced roughly at the 20K bracket. The target audience remains the same. It is still those young, discerning millennials out there or the Gen Z consumers out there who are really looking to max out their phones from a hardware and overall experience perspective.
Are these devices available both online and offline?
Galaxy M series is for the online buyer and it will be selling on samsung.com and amazon.in only. But, we continue to do business with all online players – Flipkart, Paytm, Snapdeal and others on our other portfolio.
What are the factors driving the smartphone sales for Samsung?
To begin with, I would say that we are the most love brand. And over the years, we’ve acquired that really fortunate and humbling position for us in consumers’ minds and hearts and it’s not just our own internal brand tracks I’m alluding to, we of course keep tracking brand health periodically but through various surveys. So that’s at the core of it – brand love.
But associated to brand love is also over the years been about the brand trust and trust is again a function of multiple things – quality, after sale service network, etc. I think both love and trust have got us here. There are other hard factors in terms of our continuously changing and refreshing portfolios.
Our innovation at the top end flagships, or in the mid segment, which is the A Series and the M Series. Our retail reach; being loved and being trusted is not enough but being available is equally important. We’ve ensured over the years that we define the distribution for the industry the reach into hinterlands, into small outfits or new outlets or towns or PIN codes for that matter.
So both reach of distribution as well as reach of service. And not just fixed service location but service on wheels, which we launched as an initiative two years back where we have 535 vans spanning across districts. So it takes a whole ecosystem of getting consumer to say I’ll buy Samsung.
Does competition ever worry you?
Worry is a wrong term. What concerns us the most is what drives us. And at Samsung, it’s really not the competition, but it’s the consumer. We know from experience that we’re only as good as how we understand our consumers and build and serve or offer portfolios or software or experiences or OTT apps or companion accessory products.
The whole ecosystem we offer is going to be as successful as our understanding and building around the consumer. Over the years, there are countless examples and the nearest one home in the most recent times is the M Series. It was just the basics of applying our really keen open ears and open mind and hands at working around what the consumers asked. And we sense from that we built around the portfolio and viola, it’s a 100% growth.
Do we see your R&D efforts being directed towards mid-range segment where there is more competition and more market opportunity?
Yes, but not for the reason that there is more competition. Over time, innovation at all ends of the market is important to those specific consumers. So innovation is still important for consumer who’s in the mid segment of the market.
And thereby, if you look at the Galaxy A Series, of certain things we do in the Galaxy A Series and the Galaxy M Series, and this didn’t start in 2019, it actually started in second half of 2018 itself. We launched a triple camera and a quad camera in Galaxy A7 and Galaxy A9 respectively.
That innovation was not there in the flagships. That was actually a first of sorts in our Galaxy A series. We put a 5,000 mAh battery in Galaxy M20 and that innovation is not there in our high end devices, forget flagship. It’s there in our mid segment of the market. And we’ll do more and more of that, depending is on our market sensing and consumer sensing. Also, if you see, this year we launched Galaxy A80, which is the world’s first rotating camera phone. So innovations increasingly for Samsung are coming in the mid segment phones.
Samsung is clearly the leader in the offline space, so why is Samsung moving towards the online space? Because going by the market trends, players who were only online are now gradually going offline.
We are not moving online, the consumers move, we follow. And it’s only in the last three to five years that online has seen shape and growth. Even now, India is predominantly an offline market. And even into the visible future, in our studied opinion, it will remain an offline market. Our products are reaching to 180,000 outlets and more.
Our retail assets have manpower deployed by thousands of trained manpower and multiple years of investments in this direction have been there, are there this year, and will continue to the future. So there is no going away from that. That’s as far as offline goes. Regarding online, we had Galaxy On series extensively for the online channel in the last three years.
The On series was the predecessor to Galaxy M series. 2019…enter M series, and now it’s taken the baton to a different level and running faster and higher than ever before. So our strategy is about trying to read the kind of consumer, it’s not really about addressing one channel or another channel, it’s addressing one consumer or another consumer through the channel he purchases in.
In our consumer findings and research, the age, the shopping behaviour, the shopping preferences of an online consumer are a shade different. Especially, over the last year or so, we observed that now, the online consumer has come into a certain shape and definition.
Are there any challenges while maintaining a balance between online and offline sales?
Actually in conventional sense, yes! But, I’d rather talk of the results. If you look at Galaxy M and Galaxy A Series, the M Series stands for really powerful specs and a certain kind of positioning in the consumers’ mind. Galaxy A series addresses a different kind of positioning born out of different kind of specs and experience based on buying behaviour and therefore the design, camera capabilities, etc. Both these portfolios sell harmoniously in the market. And mind you, Galaxy A series sells in offline as well as an online, while Galaxy M series is online dedicated.
There has been the emergence of a premium mid-range segment. Samsung is the only player, which is present from Rs. 8000 device going up to Rs. 65,000 to 70,000. How do you do this balancing act?
It’s about how we ladder our portfolio in terms of design or experiences or use cases, that’s the key. So there’ll be certain features which are more in our entry-level phones and are not to be found in our flagships.
Whether they are software or app based features, because there are certain apps we put into our mass phones or mid phones, but not into our flagships. Vice versa, there are certain features and software or apps or partnerships we have globally, which are only in our flagship. So it’s a very studied task on portfolio, laddering and evolution from time to time and segment to segment. The other is a communication.
So at any point of time, you will see a brand in media, in advertising in some form or the other. And no surprises, that’s a separate challenge in terms of media choices, and stories and positioning for different categories of ours price points.
So again, we carefully carve portfolio and pricing and that kind of ladder, even our communication is carefully carved at different kinds of audiences, the different kinds of appeal we make through advertising through them. So it’s a lot of modulation and time scaling of those things and this is not new to us.
This is very much coded in our DNA for multiple years, because forever that we’ve been in the mobile business, and we’ve actually expanded our price segments. So the entry has always been the entry, but the top end is only grown. So as we expanded our portfolio in price address, we’ve only just done it more and more out of our DNA and instinct.
There has been a spurt in activities in the refurbished market, what is Samsung’s take on this market?
Yes, that’s a very interesting space. Right now, we don’t or need not take any active role in that strategy. But what we do actively support and enable consumers, is upgrading. Reselling their handset back to the trade whether it’s the offline trade or the online trade. And towards that, about one year ago, we launched Samsung Upgrade program.
The Samsung Upgrade program sits in the My Galaxy application. A consumer can get a real time device value basis the device health assessment. Should he like it, basis geo location he’s given a set of dealers, who he can contact, and visit the dealer physically or click the online tab and go online and sell it as well.
When do we see your foldable phone in India?
Galaxy Fold is going to be a massive innovation story. While it’s already out, but when it’s closer here and in your hands, I will have lots to share with you in terms of device, experience, timings, etc. So just hold that little bit. There’s a truckload on that separately.