Xiaomi is a mobile phone manufacturer which started selling its smartphones in 2011, sells its phones in batches online, and the devices often sell out in minutes. The company’s model relies on inexpensive phones, however, services like apps and games create revenues. Indeed, Xiaomi sells its flagship Mi 4 at $323 in China (about a third of the price of Apple’s iPhone 6).
Such a model has proven successful in China, where Xiaomi surpassed Samsung in the second quarter of 2014 as the country’s top smartphone maker, and in the third quarter, Xiaomi became the No. 3 smartphone maker worldwide in market share, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, after Samsung and Apple.
OnePlus is another mobile phone manufacturer that runs on the same style as Xiaomi, building low-cost phones and trying to focus on making revenue from software and services. OnePlus launched its first mobile phone in April 2014, and already there is huge demand about it. OnePlus is famous for making its a huge amount of fans participating in all campaigns. This is because OnePlus gives up invitationsto the winners, that can be used in order to purchase their phone OnePlus One. This invitation method is rather criticised, but the company says it is a good way of controlling the risk of excessive inventory, which is a high risk for a start-up.
Both of these companies, choose to sell their phones through their online web store and avoid retail middle-men. This helped them to keep the prices bottom-low, but that is not the only reason these companies are being loved by their followers. The main reason is that they managed to create a special bond with their customers.
OnePlus and Xiaomi are known for “listening to the customer” and seeking for feedback constantly, while companies like Apple and Samsung do not really pay attention. They have sessions of answering questions on social media, and countless campaigns and competitions giving away phones for free. Their branding awareness is fully created by their customers and their mouth-to-mouth communication, social media posts and shares, and their countless campaigns that take place every week.
Moreover, both companies have created an operating system that is based on their fan’s feedback and wishes, making the customers happy and building strong relationships. Xiaomi held gatherings and invited fans to speak directly to their engineers, something that created loyal fans.
Social media fundamentally change how people get and give information, and therefore change marketing from merely pushing information about your business out to potential customers to engaging them in interactive conversations (Pinson, L., 2014). In OnePlus and Xiaomi’s case, their customers started those conversations themselves, kept them going and draw in others who might not otherwise be aware their existence.
“Social media are for businesses of every size, in every location, and in every industry. The number of online resources for social media interaction grows daily. The challenge for marketers is choosing the right ones for their type of business and marketing goals” (Pinson, L., 2014).
To conclude, even though Samsung spent more than $14 billion on marketing last year, there are start-ups that rise and show that having strong customer relationships is much more important and rewarding. Xiaomi and OnePlus have been putting their own stone trying to build a new mobile phone era and marketing strategy, where brand awareness is not based on costly ads or marketing. Having satisfied and loyal fans creates better and faster brand awareness that money does. Consumers want brands that answer questions and offer transparency.