Prior to the entry of Beats By Dre into the market in 2006, the headphone business was tired, and not particularly profitable. Since then, this company have proved that with the right marketing, and a colourful and unique form factor even mediocre-sounding headphones can be sold at a premium price, and generate large profits.
Now Samsung, which has seen a recent drop in profits, is looking to take a piece of this pie. This week they are debuting their ‘Level’ brand of luxury headphones, with which they plan to directly compete with Beats and their new owners, Apple.
The range consists of several different models of bulky, conservatively designed headphones each placed to match an equivalent Beats products. The flagship, most expensive offering, the Level Over, can be seen as a direct competitor to Beat’s Studio Wireless headphones, while the next model down, the Level On, is in competition with the highly popular Beats Solo. Indeed this comparison also extends to other products, with the Bluetooth Level Box being very similar (in function) to the Beats Pill, and the Level in-ear headphones, closely matching the in-ear Powerbeats.
While all of these devices compete with Beats in terms of price - ie. they have the same expensive price points - where Samsung can’t compete is design. People are willing to shell out large sums of money for Beats branded headphones because they are ‘cool’. And why are they cool? Because they have unique and colorful designs, which are well-marketed.
Samsung’s Level range on the other hand is following the same boring formula of countless other (lower priced) headphone manufacturers. Their headphones are bland plastic and leather construction, with no interesting lines, and no bright colors. While Beats are at home in a Hip Hop or EDM setting, Level is just too boring.
All things considered, if Samsung wants to compete with Beats they either need to change their design or change their price points. The vast majority of consumers will not be willing to pay hundreds of dollars for un-interesting headphones, which are neither ‘cool’ nor unique.
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