LG to open 600 stores in emerging markets to increase phone sales, chances are they’ll fail

BY Stefan Constantinescu

Published 10 Apr 2013

According to The Wall Street Journal, LG Executive Vice President Kim Ki-wan says the company will open 600 new stores in emerging countries in an attempt to increase sales of their phones, televisions, and home appliances.

Funny enough, I visited an LG store in Malaysia earlier this year, and it was one of the worst managed stores I’ve ever had the displeasure of stepping inside. I walked in and no one even acknowledged by presence. When I asked them about their smartphones, they rolled their eyes and walked me to a kiosk that had dummy phones which were bolted to the table in case someone was stupid enough to attempt to steal one.

Mind you, this store was located in an ultra high end shopping mall. Said mall also had a Sony store, Samsung store, and HTC store. The staff at the HTC store were, without a shadow of a doubt, the best. They knew the answers to all my questions, and their demos were flawless. Samsung’s store was the second best since the phone section was surprisingly small; they were more interested in selling me a TV. And while Sony’s store was above average, it was definitely nothing to write home about.

Now granted, one experience in one store in one country doesn’t make or break a company, but I know how these shops are setup. The master office in Korea makes a template that then gets copy and pasted several hundred or even several thousand times. I say this with confidence because I visited Samsung stores in five different countries in South East Asia between January and March, and they were all replicas of each other.

But back to LG, their whole game is to copy Samsung’s design, both in terms of hardware and software, and then hope for the best. If you’re living in an emerging country where every building is plastered with a giant Galaxy S III, and then you walk into an LG store and see all their phones, with look remarkably similar to the GS3 in all those billboards, why would you buy a knock off when you can buy the original thing?