21 July 2018
Customers check out Xiaomi smartphones in a Hong Kong retail shop. Photo: Bloomberg
Customers check out Xiaomi smartphones in a Hong Kong retail shop. Photo: Bloomberg

Dialing up a new brand-customer connection

Hunger marketing, rabid fans and value-for-money products have fueled the hype for smartphone startup Xiaomi across the country in the past few years. But now, at the start of the 4G era, rivals are determined not to let Xiaomi steal the march again.

Manufacturers have launched one new smartphone model after another in the last few weeks, including Huawei’s latest flagship Ascend P7, Lenovo’s Golden Warrior s8 and newcomer Baidu’s video-oriented 100+ V6. But it’s not just about product design. They have also come up with novel, interactive ways to sell their products and stand out from the crowd.

For example, buyers can take the latest Lenovo s8 home, use it and see if it’s really what they want before buying it. This way, Lenovo is selling the smartphone as well as the shopping experience.

Xu Guoxiang, director of 100+, goes one step further and pledges to let customers become business partners and promises not to make any profit from the handsets themselves.

He despises the product worship that Xiaomi has inspired, telling National Business Daily that it’s an unequal relationship for one party venerating the other.

With 100+, customers will become the group’s partners, earning commissions for recommending the handsets to their friends.

The zero-profit concept made jaws drop when it was first heard. After all, how can a firm survive without making money?

Rather, the firm will earn from what Xu calls the ecosystem. Details are scant as Xu won’t elaborate but the best guess is 100+ will try to make money through services and other value-added functions to its handset buyers.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer

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