20 June 2019

Xiaomi’s Red Rice hunger marketing leaves bad taste in HK

Rising Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi is finally launching its popular low-end Red Rice smartphone in Hong Kong next week, offering a limited supply to buyers for a beguiling HK$999 (US$129).

But enthusiasm for the belated launch is threatened by the company’s insistence that consumers endure the tedium of registration if they want to be in the guaranteed running for one of the items.

The Red Rice model is hardly new — it was rolled out on the mainland back in July and the group started selling its latest flagship Xiaomi 3, or Mi3, product almost three months ago. 

Nevertheless, Xiaomi is insisting that buyers who want to be sure of securing one of the phones must open Xiaomi accounts, register interest with the company and share the news through Facebook. But even if fans are lucky enough to register — the website is frequently jammed — it still doesn’t mean they will be able to buy one.

Registration merely puts people in the lottery for the right to buy one of the phones. Anybody whose number comes up can buy the smartphone directly without having to take pot luck on Dec. 18.

It is not hard to see why Hong Kong fans have given the thumbs down to the marketing technique. Hundreds have complained on Facebook of their irritation at the hunger tactics and their falling interest in the launch.

Hunger marketing has been one of Xiaomi’s key marketing strategies. It’s an approach in which the service or product provider reduces the supply in order to stir up buyer interest and market buzz.

But the company refuses to say it’s using the strategy, claiming the limited supply is the result of component shortages. Critics say the manufacturer should shore up its supply chain before entering the market because the approach will eventually annoy buyers.

Xiaomi’s idea for delivering high-quality, low-priced products has attracted a huge base of fans, but its marketing strategy could backfire if dragged out for too long.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]



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