This ad presents new series of Samsung smartphones – A series, the most democratic in prices, and, at the same time, is characterized with excellent functionality. The brand maintains a constant pursuit of innovation and is ahead of market trends in both functionality and price/quality ratio. This is a company that knows how to balance on the edge and respond instantly to changes. All this is expressed in the ad presented above – a person enjoying the beauty of the world around him and freedom. His attention is riveted to the magnificent landscape – in an obvious way, this ad calls to pay attention to the brand, as namely this brand allows leading dream life. The ad intentionally does not show the face of a man – the products are for everybody who strives for freedom and being self, to self-expression and living “full” life, not depending on the age. Series A is the widest range, including both cheap (‘budget’) models and mid-budget ones with good characteristics. The same line is the best-selling one in the current portfolio of the company, and it is safe to assume that the reason for this is a consistent, well-thought-out advertising strategy that takes into account and even anticipates not only purely practical but also the personal, spiritual needs of the target audience. Millennials, Z-generation, digital nomads – all these segments of Samsung target audience are ‘seen’ in the image of the man on the ad.
The attention economy is a theory according to which, in the modern world, people’s attention becomes the most important resource around which the competitive struggle unfolds. Here attention has its own intrinsic, non-monetized value. The attention economy is where people spend their time grabbing the attention of others, whether it is designing creative avatars, posting meaningful comments, or accumulating “likes” for their cat’s photos. Today, the dynamics of the attention economy stimulate companies to attract, lure users so that they spend increasingly more time on applications and sites. Designers who create websites and applications understand that their products are fighting for a limited resource – user attention in a highly competitive market. The modern economy revolves more around the concentration of human attention, which means that the principles of attention management are the defining link in the functioning of such an economy. Attention regulates how people interact with the world, both on an individual and social level. In addition, attracting attention and then reselling it is now a mass business.
Brands are intangible conglomerates of attention: attention is concentrated, sold, and can also be moved from one object to another. The attention economy takes into account the role of brands in determining communication processes, structuring, and shaping awareness and attention (Venkatesh & Meamber, 2006). The idea behind the Attention Economy is to create a marketplace where users are happy because they are shown the information they need – and sellers are happy because users are spending money. Samsung has managed to create such a synergy – users are happy, turning their attention to Samsung products, and the corporation is increasing sales. Ergonomic design, user-friendliness, and emotional attachment are three ‘pillars’ of Samsung’s vision for its smartphones. However, under the influence of modern European trends, Samsung has transformed its vision of strategy and relied on emotional elements of product design, which found its reflection in advertising campaigns.
Winning the love of consumers is not easy, but the companies that succeed are often special: the audience is devoted to them, shares their views, and supports their endeavors. This is achieved through brand authenticity. Authenticity is an expression of how a brand transcends the drive for profit, whether it is informing customers about the ingredients of a product to provide healthy choices, or giving them more time to connect with friends and family by making their daily life easier (Williams, 1980). Brand authenticity is a quality that is expressed in the ability to be true to the mission and values, as well as in honesty and sincerity with the audience and self. An authentic brand does not copy other brands but expresses its true nature. It can be compared with a person who understands everything about himself and is not shy. Samsung smartphone’s authenticity is evident in the ad above – it is based on the authenticity, ‘genuineness’ of the individual consumer.
Modesty plays a big role in authentic brand behavior. Samsung, and the difference from Apple with its “Think different!” and positioning its products as the ones for ‘chosen,’ does not focus on the exclusivity of the brand as such, but rather the exclusivity and uniqueness of each of its consumers (existing and potential) as a person. Authenticity is something that cannot be copied or faked, or even outdo by technical parameters. It expresses the “soul” of the brand – the thing that modern consumers prize to no less extent than quality. In turn, authenticity serves as means to attract attention, implementing principles of the attention economy. In this synergetic interaction, attention itself creates a ‘halo’ of authenticity.
Consumer activism is the process by which activists seek to influence the way goods or services are produced or delivered. It includes both consumer activism to protect consumers and consumers activity. Consumerism consists of behaviors, institutions, and ideologies created by the interactions between people and the materials and services they consume. Consumer activism has several goals: to change the social structure of consumption; protect the social well-being of stakeholders; satisfy an apparent disregard for the ego; strive for fairness to the consumer and the environment in terms of consumption, act like Bourdieu’ social agents (Bourdieu, 1984).). Today, consumers themselves are becoming more demanding and require that producers comply with production norms and standards, and protect the environment. This social phenomenon appeared as a response to the growing public concern about the planet’s environmental and social problems. Buyers are now paying increasingly more attention to how, by whom, and from what the product is made, whether it is harmful to the environment, how natural ingredients are contained in the products, and this is not surprising, since environmental threats are becoming more real. Moreover, consumers are concerned about other sides of the corporate social responsibility of the manufacturer – whether it is a responsible ‘citizen’ in frames of corporate citizenship.
The ad above, although ‘on the surface’ it does not propagate the ideas of “greening” and sustainable development, shows the excellent quality of the product under the brand and young educated man, who demonstrates his Samsung smartphone as if emphasizing its high quality, implicit adherence of the brand to ethical standards of production – honesty, respect to customers and employees, obedience to public institutions, with no necessity in cheating in any field. The ad looks like the Instagram photo, where consumer-activist acts as a brand advocate.
At the present stage of socio-economic development, consumerism, coupled with the instability of life-meaning orientations, leads to an increase in the importance of external attributes of life, the appearance of goods endowed in the mind of an individual with supernatural properties, super-meanings – fetishes. Supplementing, and sometimes replacing, personal meanings with consumer ones are becoming a frequent occurrence. In the phenomenon of commodity fetishism, a thing is more than just a thing: the consumer is “glued” to it, he attributes to it a special significance, memories of important, pleasant events or people; this thing evokes strong positive emotions, it can even become an integral complement to the personality (Billlig, 1999). Fetish brands are goods of a certain brand, to which an individual attributes super meanings and super abilities. This kind of fetishism is closely related to over-loyalty to the firm (that is, in fact, to the brand). Thus, the product becomes the bearer of certain values and emotions, acts for a person as a means of socialization, and a ‘channel’ of communication, as well as a tool of acquiring identity. Through the product, a person finds himself and his community. Corporations take this into account in their market policy, strive to establish a clear association of their company (brand, product) with certain values and emotions, and turn into a kind of “tribe” that would include not only the employees of the corporation but all of its customers.
In the ad above, the Samsung smartphone for the young man is a fetish – he enjoys seeing it, enjoys himself as a happy owner of the highest-quality brand product. Interestingly, here commodity fetishism is inextricably linked to consumer activism – a man also enjoys demonstrating this ownership to a wide audience, as if calling them to follow in his footsteps, to buy Samsung smartphone of expensive models range, if they want to have an excellent product and feel themselves, responsible consumers, giving preference to responsible manufacturers who respect consumers and society.
The value worlds themselves that enter into this interaction cannot be understood primitively as the search for the best quality at the lowest price, on the one hand, and the desire to please any whim of the consumer, if only he buys the product, on the other. It is unlikely that it has ever been so easy, but today such a relationship is especially complex. Products do not differ significantly in their functional characteristics (what was previously meant primarily when talking about quality), as well as in price (price competition is less typical now for different markets). Consequently, the guidelines for consumer choice are changing; however, the manufacturer also understands that it is senseless to chase an increase in the number of consumers, indulging their whims, today it is impossible – their tastes are too different: pleasing some, the company will lose others, thus it is better to find “own” consumer and hold on to him. It is necessary to expand the circle of consumers by attracting them to the brand, and not adjusting to them. Samsung skillfully implements these strategies, applying different but at the same time one-platform advertising approach to all segments of its consumers, enabling consumer activism through preliminary creation of commodity fetishism behavior in them.
Billlig, M. (1999). Commodity fetishism and repression: Reflections on Marx, Freud and the psychology of consumer capitalism. Theory Psychology, 9, 313-329.
Bourdieu, P. (1984). Conclusion: classes and classifications. In Distinction: A Social critique of the judgement of taste (pp. 466-484). Harvard University Press,
Venkatesh, A., & Meamber, L. (2006). Arts and aesthetics: Marketing and cultural production. Marketing Theory, 6(1), 11-39.
Williams, Raymond (1980). Advertising: the magic system. In Problems in materialism and culture (pp. 170-195). Verso.