Samsung used influencers to create user-generated content about its new S21 phone and incorporated the content into its first virtual flagship store in Taiwan.
The release of Samsung S20 in 2020 struggled from negative reviews over its camera performance and expensive pricing. Meanwhile, the launch of the iPhone 12 in October 2020 brought a huge gain in market share as the first iPhone supporting 5G connectivity, leading to most mobile sales in 2020 Q4 coming from Apple's iPhone. To capture the market's attentions again for Samsung Galaxy S Series, the launch of S21 at the beginning of 2021 was more crucial than ever.
Meanwhile, the market changed significantly due to the pandemic. Consumers were adapting to the "new normal" and one of the new behaviors was to "avoid going out unless it is absolutely needed." Samsung needed to go beyond reaching consumers and start to be seen as "with consumers" to build growth opportunity.
Developed from S21's positioning of "make every day epic," the brand's target audience were influencers who dedicate noticeable time to building their distinctive identity on social media. Different user profiles were identified, based on different consumer habits of camera usage.
Knowing this target dislikes ads but spends time watching content that interests them, Samsung incorporated its product in content before they were even being noticed by influencers. The idea was that when users browse for inspiration or want to know the latest trending locations, Samsung would be seen by these users in a native fashion. Samsung also wanted to curate new content from influencers' posts and turn their materials into addictive short-form videos that capture people's attention. Considering people avoid crowded areas during the pandemic, all of this content became part of the atmosphere of the first Samsung virtual flagship store in Taiwan, creating a physical space by bringing offline exploration with an online content experience.
Under the "new normal," people no longer just go out aimlessly. In 2021, the context strategy was all about creating excitement for people to "want" to pay a visit to the Samsung store (online or offline). Hence, foot traffic was a combination of online traffic and offline visits; event success no longer depended on how many visited, but on how many engaged with the content.
Overall Campaign Execution:
With the idea of fear of missing out (FOMO), consumers are always eager to find out the latest trending topics and locations on social media. By working with "Tagnology," an Instagram Analytics platform, Samsung was able to identify the most promising up-and-coming locations using mobile check-in data and predict where to catch domestic travelers' attention. In fact, a total of 20 locations across six cities were identified, based on travelers' previous seven days of performance.
Samsung then invited influencers to visit those locations and capture their user-generated content using Samsung's S21, explaining how the phone's camera can capture the best pictures and videos. When consumers searched for travel locations, they would get to see where to go and see the quality of content, as captured by Samsung's influencers.
Curated content from influencers with the highest engagements was collected and recompiled into short-form videos for a second wave of branded content to be shown on social media. Aiming to continue the momentum, Samsung generated two 15-second mobile first videos featuring different camera functions with speed. Working with Shakr, a video technology startup, Samsung was able to streamline production time by 50 percent compared to a traditional editing approach.
Targeting influencers who hadn't noticed the brand yet, these branded videos were amplified on both Instagram and Facebook. In the interest of sales conversions, Samsung implemented an official Samsung virtual store, where consumers can go directly from those social posts.
The company worked with iStaging, a globally renowned virtual reality expert, to create a virtual store where visitors can "walk freely" within the store and browse through different products, replicating physical stores, and empowering consumers to make purchases with a touch of a finger. Without the limitation of a headset, the virtual store was available to every device (mobile accounted for more than 80 percent of the traffic).
The smartphone is a highly competitive category with 97 percent penetration in Taiwan; iPhone takes up around half of the market. Though the Galaxy S series is Samsung's major flagship model, sales had stalled, with market penetration decreasing gradually.
The virtual store had only a 35 percent bounce rate (industry benchmark is around 80-90 percent), with a four times longer duration than other campaign sites in the same period.
A 200 percent return on ad spend was achieved. Products were sold via the virtual store through immersive design and influencer testimonials, outperforming any other existing Samsung e-store.
The innovative approach of combining real-time location data with influencers proved influencers can have an impact beyond simply generating exposure on Instagram. Meanwhile, by creating the physical space virtually, Samsung converted consumers' digital experience from receiving information to engaging with a branded environment. Sales results also revealed the potential of a virtual store, so Samsung decided to keep the website running through 2021 and intended to expand the virtual store to other stock-keeping units (SKUs). Industry-wise, Samsung set a new standard of how a virtual experience can successfully drive business revenues for advertisers, even under the constraints of the pandemic.