Note to Samsung: Don’t Screw This Up

Galaxy Note 7

Via your classmate Shashin:

In August 2016, Samsung introduced the newest addition to its popular Note Phone series: The Note 7. Boasting moderate improvements from the last Note Series, the Note 7 came with a wide range of features and an extensive battery capacity. The tech world rejoiced, for a while.

Within a few days, news of overheating and exploding batteries started coming to light. By mid-September, Samsung stopped selling the Note 7 and issued a voluntary recall of devices sold before Sept/15th. Samsung tried to identify the root cause and fix the devices before reselling them, but the problem persisted. By the end of the year, Samsung was forced to pull all Note 7 products from the market and reimbursed the customers in exchange for the devices.

A recent article in Harvard Business Review highlights Samsung’s recovery from this fiasco, and predicts that in the long-term, the brand will not only survive, but thrive. The author highlights 3 key insights into the Samsung brand:

  1. A large, loyal base of existing customers insulates the brand.
  2. Geographically identified brands bounce back quickly.
  3. The Note 7 crisis is limited to a single Samsung product and is self-contained.

The issue around the Note 7 batteries and Samsung’s reaction to it epitomizes why customer experience and brand management are critical to a company’s survival. Having a large base of customers helps to insulate a brand from rapid market loss. In Q2 of 2016, Samsung sold over 78M smartphones. Including all the products that Samsung sells, the company’s consumer base would be ~1B customers. During the recall period, customers chose to replace the defective devices with brand new Note 7 devices, further evidence that loyalty runs deep in Samsung’s base. Further, Samsung’s speedy response and ownership of the issue gave consumers additional confidence in the brand and helped them look past its transgression. Given a history of successful and popular product offerings, the loyal customer base will quickly put the Note 7 debacle behind them.

If this issue plagued a smaller brand without a large, loyal customer base, then then negative publicity would have decimated the company. In Samsung’s case, the culmination of having a loyal customer base and being proactive while dealing with the crisis will help ensure the brand will rebound in the long term.

Do you agree?


One thought on “Note to Samsung: Don’t Screw This Up

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