Can Samsung Win Back Consumers After Its Galaxy Note 7 Fiasco?

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It was an unimaginable PR disaster for Samsung: Right after launching its flagship Galaxy Note 7 phone with much fanfare last August, some buyers began reporting that their handsets were catching on fire. That first batch of phones was recalled and replaced with versions with a different battery–some of which also burned up, leading the company to scrap the line altogether. “Like a meteor striking your house–twice,” as the Wall Street Journal described it.

Five months later, Samsung is trying to win back consumer confidence. On the eve of releasing its full-year earnings, the company has revealed the results of its investigation into the Note fiasco (which put the blame on the battery design and manufacturing) and introduced a new testing procedure for future models.

Will that be enough to win customers back? To contribute to the conversation, we at Askem, a data-focused market research software company, went directly to existing Samsung Galaxy users to gain some consumer insights about the South Korean brand under fire.

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The Survey

Using our unique sampling mechanism and Facebook’s proven ad technology, we were able to do what other market research companies can’t: reach hyper-targeted audience in statistically representative numbers, and quickly.

In this case, the desired panel was people across the U.S. who have owned the most common Galaxy Note phone models (3, 4 or 5). In two days last week, we collected 220 demographically diverse responses, with a margin of error of 6.6%.

Unlike most traditional market research, our respondents were not incentivized. Instead, we reached people who are engaged with the brand and genuinely interested in giving their opinions about it. No incentive means no bias.

The survey, which ran as a Facebook ad, was composed of four simple questions that served to quantify how connected Samsung Galaxy Note users were to the brand: 1. How many Android devices do you own? 2. What Android devices do you own? 3. Will your next phone be a Samsung Galaxy? 4. What will your next phone be?

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We utilize high-end algorithms and machine learning to transform one survey into a thousand different versions that can appeal to any number of different audiences. The language, visuals and overall experience are all optimized to ensure that people enjoy interacting with Askem surveys–and complete them. Thus, we attained a high conversion rate on our survey and collected some valuable insights.

(For more on our methodology, read this.)

The Results

Samsung should take heart in what the Askem survey found.

The main takeaway: There’s still brand loyalty among Samsung Galaxy users. When asked, “Will your next phone be a Samsung Galaxy?” 77% of respondents had a positive reaction, answering either “I’m sure it will” or “I think it will.”

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The survey also had hopeful insights even within the group of people who had a neutral or negative response to buying a Samsung handset. Among this cohort, there was no clear vendor preference for their next phone purchases, leaving room for Samsung to try to win over hearts and minds. While 16% said Apple, and 11% said Google, a full 68% of responders chose “Other/Not Sure.”

One thing that was sure: These Galaxy Note family owners are power users who are Android savvy. Respondents professed to be heavy consumers of Android-family devices, with 80% owning more than one. (And 77% of those second screens were tablets.) Being so entrenched in the Android ecosystem may well lead them back to Samsung, which continues to hold the lion’s share of Android phone sales worldwide.

So even as Samsung begins its uphill PR battle, Askem has some valuable insights to relay, direct from the company’s customers: There’s still plenty of brand loyalty there that the company can build on. The Wall Street Journal may have given Samsung’s efforts to bring back consumer trust a “C” so far, but the customers themselves seem to be grading on a kinder curve.

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