Samsung’s brand is going strong in Asia-Pacific, according to a Campaign Asia/Neilsen survey released on Monday. But despite the Korean firm’s home-field advantage and massive marketing advantage, Apple has closed the gap, and spent much less in the process.
Among the region’s 12 biggest economies, Samsung came first for brand trust and reputation in eight markets—up from five last year—only falling out of the top three in Japan and Taiwan. Apple came first in Australia and Japan, ahead of homegrown brands like Sony and Panasonic, and was in the top three in all countries except three, including Samsung’s native South Korea. Consumer electronics companies claimed four of the top five spots, rounded out by Swiss food giant Nestle.
The cost of dominating the branding tables, however, varied drastically. Samsung spent $1.3 billion on Asia-Pacific marketing in 2012, much of it on promoting its flagship Galaxy S4 handset and more than double Apple’s budget. But Apple has steadily climbed the ranks since 2004 with its iconic iPhone and iPad devices—surging from the region’s 127th best brand in 2004 to second place this year.
Samsung’s huge marketing budget has also eroded its profit margins, contributing to disappointing earnings projections from the company on Friday. With sales of its heavily hyped Galaxy S4 smartphone falling short of expectations, the cost of being the “best” brand in Asia may no longer be worth the diminishing returns.