Retail in Asia


Samsung’s Yiyin Zhao on how the smartphone giant is elevating its retail experience

In the fiscal year ending on December 31, 2023, South Korean smartphone giant Samsung Electronics reported annual revenue of KRW 258.94 trillion (USD194 billion) and operating profit of KRW 6.57 trillion (USD4.9 billion), posting a decline in sales from the previous quarter on lower smartphone sales.

In 2024, however, Samsung is looking to capitalise on its Galaxy AI suite launched in January, as the company anticipates a rebound in the smartphone market, in addition to recovery in the tablet market and further growth in the wearables market.

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Leading Samsung’s lineup of flagship products in 2024 are the Galaxy S24 Ultra, Galaxy S24+, and Galaxy S24 mobile devices, equipped with Galaxy AI.

Retail in Asia speaks with Yiyin Zhao, managing director, Samsung Electronics, Hong Kong and Macau, about the new Galaxy AI ecosystem and elevating Samsung’s retail presence in Hong Kong.

RiA: Tell us about Samsung’s latest launch and how consumers have received the new products.
Source: Samsung Electronics

Yiyin Zhao: The Galaxy AI suite was launched globally in January and [the feedback] has been very positive, with encouraging pre-order numbers [showing] double-digit growth. The phone’s core essence is Galaxy AI and there are three main things we are focusing on: the barrier-free communication, simplified productivity, and unlimited creativity.

[The phone features] a lot of enhanced camera features and AI functions. It’s also about security and sustainability. We provide seven years of operating system upgrades and security updates so that consumers can use the smartphone for many years. 

RiA: What have you observed on smartphone market trends, and what are consumers looking for in a smartphone these days?

Zhao: Consumers are looking for something that they can benefit from their day-to-day communication tool, which is the smartphone. 

Hong Kong consumers travel so much and it’s a very international, dynamic market, with many different languages. With Galaxy AI, there is live translation, through voice and text. We [want to] continue to teach users how to benefit from the phone so they can excel in life and at work. 

In Hong Kong, consumers are extremely tech savvy and stay on top of the latest trends. Because of this environment, we see the obvious demand for an all-in-one device that can help them do everything. They are also looking for connectivity and a seamless experience between their phone and PC, TV, and other gadgets. 

In terms of the latest technology, definitely it is AI and [tools that] enable productivity.

Source: Samsung Electronics

Consumers want all of these things, as well as privacy and security. 

Last but not least, consumers are now very conscious about sustainability. In addition to offering great features, in order to provide sustainability we do need to invest in R&D. We are also encouraging trade-in services, knowing that consumers have many used gadgets at home.

RiA:  How are you approaching elevating the retail experience at Samsung?

Zhao: As a global company, Samsung has a presence in different markets. We have regular communication with our regional headquarters and subsidiaries, where we exchange information to learn best practices in assisting local consumers and what more we can do in terms of sustainability. 

The design features [in local stores] are incorporated from our global retail store concept so there is definitely a lot of commonality, but of course, markets have unique situations. In Hong Kong, for example, retail space is very precious so there has been some local adaptation. 

The Samsung Experience store in Hong Kong’s Central district. Source: Samsung Electronics

The experience is very important not just in the hardware [of stores] but also the software. We offer consumers hands-on sessions, or what we call workshops and experience sessions. These experience workshops help our consumers understand how to use Galaxy AI, the camera and the different products. During the pre-order period we did almost 80 workshops in stores [in Hong Kong], with over 200 more planned in the coming months. We make the environment really pressure-free – consumers can come in, experience the product, but there is no pressure to buy. 

Source: Samsung Electronics

On top of the workshops, we also have the Try Galaxy app for people who have non-Samsung phones to test the Samsung interface and user experience. In terms of the retail experience, Samsung stores [depending on location] also have service counters to conduct repairs. 

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RiA: How do you plan to continue to engage with consumers in the coming year? 

Zhao: For Hong Kong and Macau, hands-on experience in retail is important and the brand needs to drive this. We’ll continue to do hands-on workshops that are open to everyone and free of charge, no strings attached. We also do livestream for the experience marketing side.

Every market has their own consumer dynamics and pressure points so we do have our local campaigns and strategies. In January we launched a campaign in partnership with Cathay Pacific on how our device can assist on travels – [and that is because] Hong Kong consumers are so passionate about travelling.