CATEGORY ANALYSIS: CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
It's tempting to think of the smartphone race as the most important contest in town when it comes to consumer electronics. And in the public consciousness it certainly is. However, Samsung's vise-like, nine-year grip on the top overall position in Asia's Top 1000 Brands arises from its strong showing across several key consumer-electronics (CE) categories.
In addition to moving into the top spot in mobile phones this year, Samsung is also No. 1 in TVs (with the top spot in seven of the 14 markets we surveyed) and smart-home tech (with the top spot in 10 markets). It sits at second position in three categories: wearables, computers/tablets, and home audio/headphones. It's in fourth spot in cameras and fifth in printers. It even appears at fifth for gaming hardware, presumably due to its monitors.
However, this is as much a story about where competitors aren't present as one about where Samsung is. For example, Apple is right there with Samsung in some categories, and leads in a couple (notably wearables and computers/tablets). But the company doesn't make TVs. Or cameras. And it doesn't rank highly in home audio/headphones (even though Airpods are easily spotted in many earholes). Similarly, Sony is on Samsung's heels in TVs, is still a legit player in smartphones, and seems unbeatable in the audio/headphones category (where it's No. 1 in 12 out of 14 markets and No. 2 in the other two). However, Sony is further back in computers/tablets and doesn't rate in wearables at all.
So, no other brand performs as strongly as Samsung across the entirety of the CE spectrum. In other words, it pays to be a chaebol. And this doesn't bode well for anyone hoping to loosen Samsung's stranglehold on the pinnacle position in CE or in the overall Top 1000 Brands ranking.
Looking more closely at the mobile-phone category, Samsung overtook Apple on the strength of 10 No. 1 spots out of the 14 APAC markets we analyse (it's No. 2 in Hong Kong and Taiwan, third in China and seventh in Japan). This has to be disappointing for Apple in year where it went big with the XS and XR launches. Whether the Samsung Fold debacle will have any impact on the race will be a subject for next year's rankings. We doubt it, based on Samsung's Teflon-like resistance to damage following the Note7 crisis a few years ago.
There was more action further down the list in the smartphone category. Huawei overtook Sony for the first time, part of a success story that has seen the Chinese brand rise from 863rd a few years ago to 83rd this year in the overall Top 1000 ranking. However, our survey took place before the Trump administration put Huawei directly in its crosshairs in May. It will be interesting to see if the company can continue its upward trajectory despite serious questions about its access to the US market, and, more critically, software and hardware from US companies.
Meanwhile, Sony and LG both slipped, and Oppo overtook both Xiaomi and LG. Vivo, which made a big spending push starting with the World Cup last summer, nonetheless moved only from 17 to 16, and stays at eighth spot in China.
Other notable moves in CE sub-categories:
- In cameras, Nikon slipped behind Canon and Sony, perhaps not surprising given the company's "professional" messaging.
- In TVs, the top 10 remained unchanged, except that Philips overtook Toshiba for 6th.
- In computers and tablets Lenovo dropped from 5th to 7th, allowing both HP and Acer to rise one notch each.
- In wearables, Fitbit appears to be yet another single-function device overtaken by smartphones and smartwatches, as it fell from third to fifth place.