By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Samsung will realign its digital imaging focus in 2011, with the brand moving from domination of the low end of the category up to competing in the premium end, alongside key rivals Sony and Canon.

Lambro Skropidis, head of marketing at the Korean giant’s Australian office, explained how a delayed entry into the digital imaging categories resulted in Samsung becoming a volume player at the low end – a segment he said Samsung now is dominating. With Samsung’s objective to becoming the value leader in this category, a position currently held by Canon, Skropidis has outlined a strategy that encompasses new products, more innovation and a broadening of Samsung’s channel strategy.

We’ve continued to be in innovative categories like the hybrid area and the mirrorless area and we’re going to continue to play in that segment,” Skropidis said. “We’re going to continue to provide higher and higher ASP (average sales price) products. We’re doing very well in that market from a unit perspective: from what I can see, we completely dominate the low end of the pricing segments.

“The challenge for us is to become the overall value leader in the category — we’re having a really good run from a volume perspective, the last two periods in GfK we were the unit leader in the category, but from our perspective, trading below $250 is not really what it’s all about for us, so we’re going to continue to bring better and better innovations in higher price points.”

Skropidis said there would be more high end products in Samsung’s NX range released soon, with understanding that the week of 11 April 2011 has been pencilled in for a high-concept launch. In addition to hybrid and mirrorless models, there will be an expansion of Samsung 2View range and more interchangeable lens options for consumers.

When asked if Samsung will soon be releasing fully-fledged DSLRs into the Australian market, Skropidis was not able to give a firm response.

“We pretty much focus on hybrids at the moment, but we’re expanding our lens offering in that space and the technology offering in that space. We’ve got a journey, we’ve started strongly, we’re dominating from a unit perspective, we’re bringing more and more in that $350 price segment and we are also offering more high-end products with the NX range.”

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In order to make sure these higher end products will be effectively merchandised to consumers, Samsung will be making adjustments to what Skropidis called its “channel choices”. He wants Samsung to become more involved in the specialist photo channel (think Ted's and Camera House), an area the brand dabbles in but is not yet fully understood.

“We’re not in [the photo specialists] as strongly as we’d like, so we want that to contribute to a lot more of our business,” he said. “We’re increasingly bringing better products to the market that are engaging that channel a lot more, and we only see that growing over time, given our intentions to want to play with them more and their acceptance of us.

“It’s quite interesting: when we take some of the people from that photo channel back to head office and show them what we are as a brand, they’re just blown away, they say, ‘I had no idea, I only ever really related to you guys within our segment, and saw you as a price battler’.

“We’re the world’s largest CE company, getting people that are so focused on their channel to realise that is an interesting challenge for us. So we’re making good progress, we’re getting good support there and we’re looking to support that channel a lot more in the future.”

Make sure you read tomorrow to find out what Samsung has planned for mobile telecommunications in 2011.