Five Questions with Grace Dolan, VP of Marketing at Samsung
Technology, and especially media tech, has immersed everyone’s lives this last 12 months more than ever. In a year that’s accelerated technology and our dependence on it, what do you see the future holding for consumers and businesses alike?
2020 was a huge change and 2021 is going to be a responding change. This year really transformed our relationship with technology. The tech that we all wanted—our coveted gadgets—turned into tech that we really needed to make daily life happen in our New COVID reality. Tech made in-home dining easier; it enabled distanced learning; it provided vital entertainment. Now, of course, many of us are hoping that we don’t have to rely on our technology as much as 2021 unfolds. But we’ve also come to a better understanding of the value that technology can bring to our lives.
Our living rooms and bedrooms became multipurpose offices and classrooms and fitness studios. And that same thing happened to our TVs. Part of the reason why the industry saw such tremendous growth last year was because TVs were being used for so many new purposes. We understood that shift and began to introduce products and services that meet that demand—by being flexible, so they adapt to each consumer’s needs and passions, and intelligently connected, so they all work seamlessly together.
Playbooks have been tossed out and rules rewritten. How did you and your brand pivot for success?
We learned a lot in 2020, to say the least. All of a sudden, we saw extraordinary demand for technology that made home life easier, and we were able to support that demand. Chromebooks became crucial home learning tools. Smart fridges were a one-stop hub for remote shopping and meal prep. And the vast majority of smartphone users said their phone was their most indispensable device. Now, we expect 2021 to call upon everyone to be adaptable and agile. We’ve also worked to support our consumers’ needs through our supply chains. In a totally unprecedented environment, our factories were able to outpace industry expectations for months—which is what allowed us to deliver the tech that people needed, quickly and at scale. That reflects a truth about Samsung that you can also see reflected in our product innovations: we’re agile. When things change, we can move at an incredible pace to adapt and bring consumers the experiences they’re looking for.
But beyond that, we had to rethink how we’d communicate. We had to adapt our storytelling e-commerce presence from the point-of-sale materials that we had in stores. It went from traditional advertising, selling and building awareness, to conversations about utility and value—to get the most out of the product in your home. And it paid dividends for us because consumers were learning about these uses with their current TVs, smartphones, fridges and other products. They began realizing that there were many more ways to exploit the functions of their devices.
CES has gone online this year and is living what it always touts—digital transformation. How has the experience been different?
We saw this year’s all-virtual CES as an opportunity to communicate directly with a broader group of consumers than ever. And CTA gave us the flexibility to embrace formats that we believe appeal most to our audience. We livestreamed our press conference and First Look event on YouTube, so they would be easily accessible to all. We got to present a range of voices, talking about everything from our innovations in AI and robots, to our new accessibility features and sustainability efforts. And speaking personally, it’s nice to be able to have conversations like this one over Zoom instead of running from panel to panel around Las Vegas!
At-home media entertainment has changed and grown to be a central part of the home like never before. How is Samsung taking advantage of shifting consumer behaviors at home?
This year, we see an opportunity to redefine the relevance of television. People are using their TVs to help them work from home, exercise, and connect with loved ones—on top of streaming and gaming. 67% of consumers use their TVs for video conferences more than once a week; 57% of consumers use their TVs to work out in their living room; and 76% of consumers enjoy gaming through their TVs. We’ve been expanding our product portfolio to deliver screens for every need and passion. For example, many of today’s consumers want their TVs to express their style. So we’ve unveiled TVs that serve as stunning design accents for your home with The Serif and The Frame.
We also know that with people investing time into improving their living spaces, they’ve sought out flexible entertainment experiences that can take place anywhere in the home — or outside of it. So last year we expanded the possibilities of where you can watch TV with The Terrace and Premiere. And after a year where many of us spent more time at home together, we’ve gone from the age of entertaining ourselves to entertaining the entire family. And that has fueled an interesting trend: we’ve seen TV sales increase on both sides of the screen size spectrum—both 43’’ and below, and 75’’ an above. Why is demand for smaller screens and bigger screens going up? Because people are adding secondary screens to different rooms of the house for various needs, and at the same time, maxing out their living room setup to bring that cinematic experience home. For ultra-large screen enthusiasts, we recently announced the launch of the 110’’ MicroLED. This is the first time we’ve unveiled a MicroLED model that requires no professional installation, so you can get its breathtaking visual experience right out of the box.
And bigger screens offer more possibilities. With our new Multi-View feature, you can watch up to four different content sources simultaneously. Maybe you want to do a workout while videochatting your running group; maybe you want to keep up with Twitter while watching the news. On a 110’’ screen, displaying four pieces of content is like having four 55’’ TVs clustered together — so you’re not compromising anything by splitting the real estate among four sources. That gives you an idea of how people aren’t just seeking out bigger TVs for the sake of it — ultra-large screens literally change how you watch.
With a new slate of video game consoles hitting homes in record numbers, what has Samsung been doing to support that gamer base?
The world of gaming has been rapidly growing for years. One 2020 survey found that four out of five people in the US identify as gamers now! We’ve responded not just with marketing efforts, but with new technological improvements to make their gameplay experience the best it can be. There are all kinds of settings and specs that competitive gamers like to keep track of, so we’ve made them easy to access on our Neo QLED lineup. Game Bar lets players quickly monitor critical aspects of play—whether that’s switching aspect ratios, checking input lag, or connecting a wireless headset. Meanwhile, with the rise of ultrawide gaming monitors, many players are used to being able to see an incredibly broad landscape when they delve into a campaign or match. So we’ve introduced Super Ultrawide Gameview, and now gamers have the option to play not just at the wide 21:9 aspect ratio, but even at the ultra-immersive 32:9 ratio. Our research found that playing on your PC in a bedroom versus on your TV in the living room are totally distinct experiences. By bringing capabilities that were once only available on your PC to a big-screen TV, we’re giving gamers more choices—so they don’t have to sacrifice any aspect of the gaming experience just because they want to enjoy it in the living room.