Looks like Samsung is in hot water again in a desperate bid to save its smartphone market in APAC, which is consistently being squeezed by new entrants, especially Xiaomi. 1,000 Samsung fans reportedly attended the recent launch of Samsung Galaxy S6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge in China; shockingly half of them were paid to do so, reports WantChinaTimes. The news broke out after a person, who was responsible for the recruitment of these fake fans, claimed that each fake fan was paid $4.80 to show up to the event and stay at least an hour. The recruiting agency was paid $3.20 per person it got to attend the event.
In the last one year, Samsung has lost a sizable chunk of the market to Xiaomi in almost every Asian country, where both the smartphone manufacturers have a presence. In China, Xiaomi had dethroned Samsung in the smartphone market in 2014, while in India, Samsung failed to lure new customers. At the global level too, Samsung’s share of smartphone shipments 2014 dropped to 20% from 24.6% in the previous year. These statistics prove that small players, likes of Xiaomi, Gionee and Micromax, are eating into Samsung’s market and the Korean smartphone giant is facing a tough time to maintain brand loyalty.
The fake fans, who attended the event, were asked to tell the press that they are attending the event because either they are Samsung fan or are interested in Samsung’s new smartphones. Interestingly, half of the people were taking the picture of Samsung Galaxy S6 or Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with their Apple iPhones. Besides attending the event, every fake fan was asked to take the picture of the event, post it on their preferred social media network and share it with their friends via messaging app. They were also asked to “Like” the Samsung’s page on Baidu network.
The person who recruited these fake fans also claimed that the company specifically asked for young people in their 20’s. In fact, some of these paid fans also made more than $8 by answering a Samsung ad on WeChat – China most popular IM app.
This is not a first time when Samsung is caught dubious marketing tactics. In 2012, Samsung stirred up a huge controversy after an Indian blogger accused Samsung of leaving him stranded in Berlin. Samsung reportedly forced him to act as company’s “brand ambassador” instead of an independent journalist IFA conference. The blogger, however, turned the offer down and Samsung decided to leave him on his own in between the trip. The company faced severe criticism from the blogging community worldwide, and after an investigation, the company found itself on the wrong side and had tendered an apology to the blogger.
We tried reaching out to Samsung but haven’t heard back from the company at the time of publishing. We shall update as soon as we hear Samsung’s side of the story.
UPDATE: Samsung has officially released a press note on the issue, rejecting the claim.The company has clarified that 1.100 who attended the event were formally invited by the company.