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Understanding Asian Markets: Diverse, early adopters, and growing fast

03/06/2012

David Steel, executive vice president of strategy and corporate communications for Samsung Electronics North America, shared his experience helping Samsung become the world’s largest technology company by sales, and the challenges and opportunities present in Asian markets.


David Steel, executive vice president of strategy and corporate communications for Samsung Electronics North America, spoke to Johnson students and faculty at Sage Hall on Feb. 23 in a talk titled “Lessons from Asia: Becoming a Global Technology Leader.”  In his presentation — part of the Global Speaker Series at Johnson — Steel relayed his experience helping Samsung become the world’s largest technology company by sales, as well as the challenges and opportunities present in Asian markets.

“An understanding of Asia and how to do business there will be very valuable going forward,” Steel said.

According to Steel, Asia is expected to produce 30.7 percent of the world’s GDP by 2025. Samsung, which began as a grocery trading business in South Korea in 1938, operates high-profile businesses in a wide range of industries, including electronics, insurance, and hotels. To maintain and grow its vast portfolio, Steel said that Samsung focuses on the three “Ins”: Innovation, Investment, and International.

Speaking of innovation, Steel noted the huge differences between American and Asian consumers. According to Steel, 16 percent of American consumers identify themselves as “early adopters” — the first to use a new device or program when it becomes available — compared to 40 percent of Korean consumers. To this end, Samsung has focused on “building a brand on innovation,” according to Steel, investing heavily in research and development. The company currently has the second-highest yearly collection of patents, behind IBM.

Steel also emphasized the diversity of the Asian markets, totaling a population of over four billion people in 37 countries and encompassing thousands of languages. To help compete across these broad and independent markets, Steel credited Samsung for cultivating a culture of education. Samsung currently employs over 4,600 PhD graduates and over 21,500 master’s graduates, and Steel says the company is constantly expanding this “core talent pool.”

To maintain its status as a constant innovator and leader in technology, Steel said Samsung also focuses on the “three C’s”: Customer-focused, Consistency, and Cutting-edge.

Speaking of Samsung’s commitment to be customer-focused, Steel said the company has taken considerable initiative to become more market-driven in the past decade, with market intelligence established in “every product division and overseas office.” With regards to consistency, Steel stressed the importance of projecting a positive public image, and referred to the company’s sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympic Games as an example of effective, meaningful marketing.

Steel concluded his talk by reiterating the high-growth potential and proliferation of opportunities in Asian markets, encouraging students to “travel and reach out to companies in Asia.” An added bonus, Steel said: “The food is great.”

—     Brendan Doyle

Brendan Doyle ’12 is an intern in Marketing & Communications at Johnson.

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