Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Galaxy 6 in Japan: History, brand image, and country of origin

As reported by The Chosun Ilbo yesterday, "Samsung has removed its corporate logo from its Galaxy S6 smartphones sold in Japan amid deep distrust of Korea and Korean technology in the island country. Instead, the sleek smartphones features only the Galaxy brand name, as do all accessories." (click on the accompanying graphic to see a full size version)  According to the article, Japanese consumers have long favored domestic technology over imports.  It notes that "When it unveiled the Galaxy S3 in Japan in 2012, Samsung ranked third after Fujitsu (21.4 percent market share) and Apple (18.4 percent) with 14.8 percent of the market. But anti-Korean sentiment stoked by a new far-right government meant the Galaxy S5 fared poorly, and Samsung's share of the Japanese market fell to 10.7 percent in 2013 and to 5.6 percent last year."  The article concludes by quoting an industry insider who said "Japanese are very loyal to their national brands and have become wary after seeing their once-mighty brands get beaten by foreign rivals on the global stage."  It would appear that the industry insider is close to the mark.  In recent decades, leading Japanese electronics manufacturers have seen their lead in the global market eclipsed by Korean firms.  Still, this move by Samsung to remove its corporate logo is a sharp reminder of the importance of brand image and country of origin in promoting a brand.  In a broader sense, it may also indicate the difficulty Japan has in dealing with its 20th century history, which included forcible colonization of Korea.

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