In a al berrios & co. Micro-Study, 83% Prefer Sony and Only 6.8% Prefer Samsung
By Al Berrios

(Editor's Note: Shortly after our big keynote address by Peter Weedfald, SVP of Strategic Marketing for Samsung at Baruch College, some folks on my team took it upon themselves to conduct a nation-wide poll of consumer attitudes towards Sony vs. Samsung using a slimmed down version of our specialized research methodology that we officially launched last week as our Micro-Study service. Although we can infer that approximately 3.3% of our population was affluent [they mentioned they owned their own businesses and were in their 50s], we did not inquire about household income.)

Skip to:
> The Products Consumer Prefer
> Why Consumers Prefer Sony and Samsung
> The Gender Difference
> The Age Difference
> Conclusion

If you've ever been shopping for electronics, then you know how long it takes you to decide. You can't very well just throw down several hundred or even thousand bucks on junk. This process is called the decision-making process, and due to the extended time it takes you to make up your mind about electronics, they're considered high involvement products. Like buying a car, you're going to look at every ad, every piece of literature, and most likely check out every recommendation you get and store you can find (including the internet), until you feel comfortable about spending any amount of money. (After all, the value you'll derive from this purchase is far greater than merely satisfaction, which isn't easily quantifiable. You're also deriving satisfaction from the utility and quality of it, innovations on it, and convenience of using it. "An Analysis of Consumer Perception". As a result of all these variables, your standard clarifies and it becomes easier for you to place a monetary value on your electronics purchase than some arbitrary thing like just price or your income.)

Anyway, several years ago, you'd give someone a choice between Sony and Samsung, and even Samsung employees may have said Sony. (That's speculative, of course.) But with Samsung's aggressive innovation and marketing efforts, as confessed by Peter Weedfald, Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing for Samsung Electronics at the "How to Spend One Hundred Million Dollars Reaching Consumers and Other Marketing Not In Textbooks" event sponsored by Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business marketing department and al berrios & co. Events, and more recently in an interview for the Wall Street Journal by Ellen Byron, it's easy to think that consumers are finally waking up to the Samsung brand.

The Products Consumers Prefer

Source: al berrios & co. Sony vs. Samsung Consumer Preference Micro-Study Jan 04

That's what I thought too, until our recent Sony vs. Samsung Micro-Study revealed some interesting things about the perception of both brands in the American consumer. The most startling revelation is that of all product categories mentioned, 82.1% of the products preferred were non-specific with regards to their preference of Sony brand. We interpret this as meaning that anything bearing Sony's brand is automatically superior to the alternative to U.S. consumers, leaving Sony with a hugely untapped reservoir of goodwill sentiment.

Source: al berrios & co. Sony vs. Samsung Consumer Preference Micro-Study Jan 04

Our data supports Samsung's claim that their TV sales have grown since last year, (our data reveals that out of all product categories preferred by Samsung consumers, TVs double all other categories, although 3 to 6 times more Sony consumers prefer the same products made by Sony).

One area one might expect Samsung superiority over Sony would be wireless phones. After all, ever since their merger with Ericsson, Sony's wireless handset brand has seemed to lose its identity. But even here, Sony's popularity was double to that of Samsung, a ferocious innovator when it comes to handsets. (Disclosure: I recently purchased a Samsung wireless phone for my wife and can vouch for its coolness. However, someone on my team is an avid wireless cell phone collector and according to her, Sony Ericsson is great.)

Source: al berrios & co. Sony vs. Samsung Consumer Preference Micro-Study Jan 04

Why Consumers Prefer Sony and Samsung

And here comes the why? Turns out that out of 15 reasons given for their preference of a particular brand, Samsung had two positionings that will serve them well as they conitnue to grow. Consumers preferred Samsung over Sony because 1) Sony is too expensive (for essentially the same thing); 2) Word of mouth. That's right, folks. Whatever Samsung's doing, consumers are talking about it. Unlike Sony, which we didn't gauge any word of mouth for (most probably because everyone already knows about it and what it stands for), Samsung's approach is generating a buzz that is clearly measurable.

Besides these two reasons, durability and good technology seem to be other reasons consumers prefer Samsung.

Source: al berrios & co. Sony vs. Samsung Consumer Preference Micro-Study Jan 04

The top reasons why consumers prefer Sony are 1) they've been around a long time (7.4% of all reasons mentioned); 2) they already have a Sony product and like it (10.3%); 3) Sony still has superior name recognition over Samsung (13.2%); 4) No particular reason (13.2%); 5) and the top reason is that consumers believe Sony just has better technology than Samsung (22.1%), a reason also often associated with trusting the brand to perform reliably each and every time.

Source: al berrios & co. Sony vs. Samsung Consumer Preference Micro-Study Jan 04

I'd like to bring your attention to the #4 reason: Consumers prefer Sony for no particular reason. At 13.2% of the reasons mentioned, this leaves a huge market for competitors to differentiate themselves. Among other reasons cited for preferring one brand over the other were better warranty, ease of use, "fun" of using, more product choices, reliability, trust, and durability (the last three, as best as I can interpret, seem to be more psychological, than actual and Samsung's greatest hurdle as it continues to get it away from it's low-quality origins). A popular sentiment: "Sony makes their things better and it seems like [S]amsung throws their thing[s] together."

The Gender Difference

Among males, only 7.1% prefer Samsung. However, of all consumers that voted Samsung, 75% were males. Only 5.9% of our females prefer Samsung.

The Age Difference

Sony was popular among virtually all age groups evenly. But in a surprising discovery, Samsung was popular only among one age group: 22-35.

We divided our group as T13-17, A18-21, A22-35, A36-49, A50+, and n/a (those that didn't submit an age.)

Source: al berrios & co. Sony vs. Samsung Consumer Preference Micro-Study Jan 04

Source: al berrios & co. Sony vs. Samsung Consumer Preference Micro-Study Jan 04


As I'm sure you've been following, Sony has been experiencing some pretty extreme organizational and cultural challenges. Their gaming division, makers of Playstation, has been firmly placed at the forefront of company growth, with its leader now in charge of sparking life back into Sony innovation. In spite of all this, our data shows that Sony has maintained its positioning among its US consumers and doesn't risk loosing much if they become as aggressive as their competitors.

Is there hope for the competition? I would say yes, because consumers love choices. This belief is also the driving force behind Samsung's strategy. In fact, in my opinion, the only reason consumers choose Sony is because there hasn't been enough competition throughout the 5 decades Sony has lead the pack.

Source: al berrios & co. Sony vs. Samsung Consumer Preference Micro-Study Jan 04

> "The Value of Trust"

> Consumer Technology


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