First Prize in the 2013 EFMD Case Writing Competition ('Emerging Chinese Competitors' Category), organized by European Foundation for Management Development, Brussels

Lenovo: Challenger to Leader

Lenovo: Challenger to Leader
Case Code: BSTR449
Case Length: 33 Pages
Period: 1984 - 2013
Pub Date: 2014
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: Lenovo
Industry: Information Technology
Countries: China
Themes: Globalization, Localization, Competitive Advantage, International Business
Lenovo: Challenger to Leader
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


This case discusses Beijing-based multinational technology giant, Lenovo Group Limited's (Lenovo), success story in China and its emergence as the global brand from China. In early 2013, Lenovo emerged as the clear leader in the global Personal Computer (PC) market.

Industry experts opined that the company's success was attributable to several strategies it had adopted in China – aggressive pricing in its home market – China — and its acquisition strategy in mature markets such as Germany and Japan, made it a market leader in the global PC market. Some analysts opined that much of the company's success was due to its 'Protect and Attack' strategy started in 2009 which gave it an edge over its competitors. Using this strategy, the company protected its China PC business and the global enterprise business while attacking emerging markets with its PC products as well as targeting new product areas such as tablets, smartphones, and smart televisions (TVs). The new product areas, also known as mobile Internet devices, were part of its PC Plus strategy wherein the company innovated with the PC to develop new products. Experts said that the company's decision to focus on these new product areas was a bid to maintain its global sales momentum as the PC market was deteriorating due to sluggish demand.

Going forward, the company planned to challenge Samsung's leadership position in the Chinese smartphone market and become a leader by including gaming software to its smartphones. In August 2013, Lenovo rolled out several retail outlets – Lenovo Solution Center which was similar to Apple stores with wide counters and tables where customers could sit and try out Lenovo's tablets and phones. The retail strategy was an attempt by Lenovo to surpass Samsung in sales in the Chinese smartphone market. The company also had ambitious plans to launch its smartphones in the US by 2014. Some analysts felt that the move was positive considering the decline in the global PC industry. Others felt that Lenovo would face some challenges while trying to make its presence felt in the US smartphone market as it lacked the brand recognition that established players such as Apple Inc. (Apple) and Samsung Electronics Ltd. (Samsung) enjoyed in the country. Some experts pointed out that Lenovo could also face challenge in making its presence felt in the US smartphone market since it was largely dominated by Apple and Samsung.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Critically analyze the strategies to be adopted by Lenovo to maintain its market leadership position in the lucrative Chinese PC market
  • Understand the issues and challenges faced by a Chinese PC company in growing its business
  • Study how Lenovo achieved a balance in catering to global customers while customizing its practices to suit the needs of its Chinese consumers
  • Understand the strategies to be adopted by Lenovo to defend its market share in the global PC market considering the demand in the global PC industry was decreasing
  • Analyze Lenovo's Protect and Attack strategy
  • Examine whether Lenovo could increase its dominance in the Chinese smartphone market and become a leading player in the Chinese smartphone market
  • Examine the strategies Lenovo should adopt to enter and make a mark in the US smartphone industry
  • Examine the challenges faced by Lenovo in gaining a presence in the intensely competitive US smartphone market



Lenovo, IBM, Global PC market, Chinese smartphone market, Pricing strategy, Acquisition strategy, Protect and Attack strategy, PC Plus strategy, Retail strategy, Globalization, Localization, Competitive advantage, Sales channels, Global brand, Brand recognition, Distribution, Brand channel, Tablets, Smartphones, Enterprise PC business, Samsung, Legend, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Smart connected devices, Apple, HP, Dell, iPhone

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