Growing a Brand, while Growing with a Brand – Kevin Sungsu You

Samsung Sri Lanka’s Managing Director, Kevin Sungsu You has spent his entire professional life with the leading global electronic brand. He has watched Samsung grow, and grown along with it over the course of 22 years of dedication, hard work and innovation. 

After a degree in Industrial Engineering from Korea, I joined Samsung Electronics and never looked back. Over time, I gained experience as a Strategist in various departments such as Business Strategy, Channel Strategy, Marketing Planning, Product Management and B2B Strategy at Samsung’s Headquarters in Korea and completed my MBA in the meantime. After gaining adequate experience in the domestic market, I was assigned to Europe, India and then Sri Lanka, as Managing Director of Samsung Electronics Sri Lanka, where I am currently. I am pleased to have worked across South West Asia as it is a region with one of the highest growth potentials for Samsung.”

“When I started working for Samsung 22 years ago, I was looking for a career that would truly challenge me. Samsung was the leading domestic Korean brand, and was building its global reputation at the time when I joined the company. It subsequently became the number one brand globally.” 

Describing some of the major challenges he has faced and overcome, Kevin explained, “Samsung always tried to do new things and strived to become the best in every segment. So, most of my professional challenges arose from ensuring that Samsung was pioneering new technology. Heading new markets and understanding local consumers in each market was always a challenge that I loved because once you grasp what the consumers want, it becomes easy to fulfill their needs. Also, consumers are never static, they are ever evolving. So, you have to be one step ahead at all times. I’ve always had to think as a customer first in Samsung’s customer centric culture.”  

“Sri Lankan consumers really know and appreciate the latest technology. Due to the high literacy rate and exposure to global advances, locals know the ins and outs of the latest electronic devices, smartphones and technology. Samsung is also proud to bring the latest technological advances to Sri Lanka. We believe we can contribute towards driving local innovation by exposing them to Samsung’s industry-first and pioneering technologies. I would like to see more technology-led innovation in Sri Lanka. There is no doubt that the required talent exists amongst the youth and should be mobilized in a way that optimizes their talents”, said Kevin, speaking of Sri Lanka’s position in terms of technological innovation in the South Asian region and Samsung’s contribution to it. 

Questioned about Samsung’s position in the local market, Kevin replied, “Within a short time, Samsung has become ‘Sri Lanka’s Most Loved Electronics Brand’ as declared by Brand Finance Lanka in LMD’s Brand Annual 2020 and Sri Lanka’s No. 1 smartphone brand as well. I would like to thank our consumers in Sri Lanka for their love and trust in Samsung. Consumers in Sri Lanka are keen on the latest technology as they are well educated and know how to use technology to their advantage. Whenever we launch a new device or appliance, the sense of anticipation is very high in Sri Lanka as they are well aware of global launches of Samsung products and wish to own the same innovations. Furthermore, Samsung has a wide distribution network through leading partners. We are very clear that beyond recording the highest sales or revenues, we want to be number one when it comes to capturing people’s hearts and minds, and we want to achieve this with our partners.”

On the topic of the key aspects in introducing an international brand to a particular local Market, Kevin stated, “The key aspect is to ensure customer gratification when introducing a brand that brings break-through innovation and is a pioneer like Samsung so that it is easily distinguished from others in the market. Communication, which is not one-way but multi-way is a very crucial point nowadays. We should listen to the voice of the customer continuously in order to understand them and ensure that they are satisfied. Another aspect is to introduce technology-led innovation, offering the highest quality standards as Samsung innovations demonstrate. And lastly, brands should be more socially responsible by giving back to society and be eco-friendly. Samsung has outperformed across all these aspects. We also credit our success in Sri Lanka to a strong distributor network consisting of leading merchants, who play a key role in driving loyalty and sales for Samsung in Sri Lanka. More importantly, we should demonstrate how customers can get the most benefits from Samsung’s meaningful technology to enhance their lifestyle and make their lives better. I always ask my team “How do you think and feel if you were a customer or partner?” That way they can find the best way to serve the customers. As an international brand, you must introduce strong after sales services locally and ensure utmost customer convenience, which is a hallmark of Samsung in Sri Lanka.”

Expressing his views on the impact of the pandemic on the Sri Lankan smartphone market and the first step in the recovery plan, the Managing Director disclosed, “Not only Sri Lanka, but the entire world is affected by the economic impact of the pandemic. I am hopeful that the world will emerge from this threat as soon as possible. Having said that, I would like to say that although the first couple of months of the lockdown were challenging, we have made a swift recovery and demand has picked up once again. The first step in the recovery plan once the threat of the pandemic passes is to stimulate business activities and accelerate economic resurgence. The recovery has to be a ‘whole of the country’ approach where the public and private sectors, and civil society come together as one to build the nation. As a responsible corporate, Samsung is exploring means by which it can contribute to the cause of nation-building in a constructive manner. Sri Lanka has overcome many hurdles in the past and I have full confidence that it will emerge stronger from this crisis too, and Samsung is working on more initiatives that will give back to society.”

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