Samsung Marketing

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Samsung Electronics Company: Global Marketing Operations

Company Background and Strategy

The Samsung conglomerate’s roots dated back to 1938 when the company produced agricultural products. In the 1970s, the company focused on shipbuilding, chemicals, and textiles. Samsung Electronics Company (SEC)2 was founded in 1969, primarily as a low-cost manufacturer of black and white televisions. In the 1970s, Samsung acquired a semiconductor business, thereby setting the stage for future growth in electronics. Throughout the 1980s, SEC supplied global markets with massive quantities of commodity products such as televisions, VCRs, and microwave ovens. The company sold its products to original equipment
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(Exhibit 1 shows the growth in revenues and profits between 1997 and 2002.) By 2003, Samsung was the most widely held stock among all emerging market companies due in part to relatively transparent disclosure practices. Over half of Samsung shares were held outside Korea, and the stock price had increased tenfold between 1997 and 2002. The company had a market capitalization of $41 billion in 2002, making it the largest Asian electronics company by this measure. SEC Chairman Kun Hee Lee led the transformation. In 1993, Lee launched the “new management initiative,” which set out to remake Samsung as a global business leader. It was the changes that followed from this initiative that saved the company during the Asian financial crisis and streamlined the company into a profitable enterprise. Throughout the 1990s, Lee demanded the rethinking of key fundamentals and set the stage for long-term commitment to investment in innovative, premium products and brand value. Following the chairman’s new management initiative and the appointment of Yun Jong Yong as vice chairman in 1997, the company pursued a bold combination of strategies, many of which seemingly contradicted conventional wisdom.

Vertical Integration

Instead of outsourcing production to external suppliers and thereby transferring the capital investment and inventory risk, Samsung remained committed to manufacturing as a core competence. “If we get out
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