Samsung has emerged as the top brand in Campaign and Nielsen's Asia's Top 1000 Brands report for the eighth year running (since 2012), proving the unwavering strength of the South Korean electronics giant.
It is number one across six categories, including the most mobile-friendly brand, the strongest local brand, and the brand with the values that best align with those of respondents.
Superunion Asia chief executive Benedict Gordon put Samsung’s dominance down to three things: global resonance, a broad portfolio and product innovation.
Most notably, this year saw Samsung unveil the Galaxy Fold, its first foldable phone.
Announced with much fanfare, the product release was later delayed to fix display hardware failures that some early reviewers of the product encountered during testing.
While it was not a perfect launch, Gordon called the Galaxy Fold the equivalent of Apple’s “iPhone moment”, when the tech manufacturer completely redefined what a smartphone looked like.
“It is a big statement about where the future of the category lies and already other players are trying to emulate and copy that,” he said.
Huawei, LG, Motorola, Oppo and Xiaomi all have foldable phones in various stages of development, while Apple filed a patent for one in early May.
Samsung is also the only Asia-originated manufacturer that has managed to “transcend its provenance” and create a global brand image, Gordon said.
“In the mobile category, if you look at brands like Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi, Vivo they carry the tag of ‘brand China’. We have seen how damaging that can be in the context of US-China trade war,” he said.
“Samsung have managed to elevate above that—they feel and operate like a global brand.”
Furthermore, he said, few manufacturers have such a stronghold across a variety of categories.
In this year’s Top 1000 Brands survey, Samsung comes out top in the mobile, TV manufacturer and smart home technology categories, second in the home audio/headphones, kitchen appliances and wearable technology categories, and fifth in computer software.
It has put significant investment in the wearables category over the past year, taking a more design-driven approach to broaden its user base.
"Samsung has always been popular among techy male-skewed consumers and struggled with young females, so they have shifted their marketing strategy over the past year and invested in design to make their wearables look more like fashion accessories,” Gordon said.
Looking ahead, Samsung could stand to gain even more ground from the fallout of the US-China trade war, which has placed mobile competitor Huawei in a precarious position.
But Gordon warned that in such a fast-moving category it can “never rest on its laurels”.
“The hungry Chinese brands will continue to fight to go global, and the innovation and low-cost value that they represent will start to be appealing to consumers,” Gordon said.
The brand's reputation could also be marred by recent fraud allegations. In April, two employees at Samsung’s biopharmaceutical unit were arrested on suspicion of destroying evidence to cover up an alleged fraud of Won4.5 trillion (US$3.8 billion).
However, looking at the way the brand bounced back from the high-profile arrest of Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong in 2017, as well as the catastrophic Galaxy Note 7 product recall after a battery fault caused fires and explosions in 2017—it will probably be fine.