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Samsung, LG Majap Turf War Raises Concerns

With Samsung and LG Electronics now dominating the U.S. major appliance market, as they did in the first quarter, industry observers now have to assess “At what cost?”

The gradual but inevitable share shifts represent a remarkable achievement for the Korean companies, which began targeting the U.S. mass premium market in the early 2000s. Prior to that, LG’s majap presence here was limited to commodity ACs and other small appliances under the Goldstar brand, while Samsung’s early white-goods efforts were marked by series of design and organizational fits and starts.

Nor did their eventual successes come without controversy. Both companies have been sued by competitors (largely Whirlpool) for patent violations and anti-competitive practices that priced their products below market value with support from Korean government subsidies.

Indeed, industry observers fear that that the pair’s aggressive price promotions in pursuit of market share could have the same deleterious effect on the white-goods business that they had on the once margin-rich TV category.

According to The Stevenson Company’s latest TraQline sales data, the Korean brands claimed the No. 1 and 2 spots in dollar volume respectively in Q1, with LG barely edging out Whirlpool’s eponymous flagship brand for second place.

The Whirlpool badge remained No. 1 in unit volume, however.

Samsung bolstered its position as America’s biggest-selling appliance brand by growing its market share nearly 31 percent year over year to 19.2 percent.

Samsung took the top spot from Whirlpool brand in the third quarter of 2016 and has retained its No. 1 ranking since, by leading in the refrigeration and laundry categories.

The TraQline tracking surveys, which Stevenson also employs to compile TWICE’s Top Retailer rankings, show LG’s 15.8 percent share as fairly consistent across the trailing four quarters, while Whirlpool brand’s Q1 share fell 5.4 percent to 15.7 percent year over year.

GE, now owned by China’s Haier Group, and Sweden’s Electrolux, round out the top five U.S. sales leaders.