OnePlus / Xiaomi: How non-cost e-branding is killing Apple and Samsung

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.

You would need an invitation to buy the OnePlus One

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’ moto “Never Settle” encourages fans to have high expectations and ask for more.

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.


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6 Responses to OnePlus / Xiaomi: How non-cost e-branding is killing Apple and Samsung

  1. Olivia Chudik says:

    It is always interesting to get to learn more from others, it is actually the first time I am hearing of OnePlus.
    Moreover, your blogpost is very interesting, and you highlighted one fact that particularly sparkled my interest. As you explained, the success of those companies that are pretty new business is due to their choice of only selling online, which reduces their cost. But, also, they create a special relationship with their customers by changing the rules of the oligopoly of Samsung,Apple etc. Those companies had control over the market, and it is great that some different ones are trying to change this fact by listening to their customers. Now, everybody has a smartphone, and use it all the time. We all are customers, so, the sooner companies understand that we have the right to chose our products and try to improve them, the better it will be.

    • VasilisP says:

      You are completely right Olivia. It is about time that companies especially like Apple(concerning their limited customisation OS and iTunes with controlled market) see that people look for freedom of choice, customisation to their needs, and want to give feedback that reaches ears. In return they reward the ones that respond to all these.

    • clementrigaudeau says:

      I also did’nt heard about one of these two companies.

      The strategies of these growing companies are interesting. They clearly understood how they can build their marketing strategy on social medias. They seem to give a lot of importance to what consumers want even if they want somrthing which can be unique. That stategy is really smart but it’s also clever concerning the time to launch their products. We will see in the future years if they can really compete with huge companies as Apple or Samsung which have an immense market share since more than ten years now.

  2. raphaelverma says:

    Do you think Oneplus has been successful with how they have developed their brand thus far and if not, how would you change that?

    • VasilisP says:

      I could definitely say that they achieved what they hoped for. They got attention from their high-spec mobile phones, and from their “unusual” approaches. People criticise the invitation method, but let’s face it, it creates a unique feeling and makes the OnePlus One phone really special. People like to feel special !

  3. stanislavkuzmin says:

    It is unbelievable how small start-up companies can a become a competitiors to the tech giants, like Apple or Samsung. For me the success of these two companies is not a miracle. The word of mouth is very effective marketing technique with no cost at all, at it is possible only thanks to the extremely fast development of the Social Medias. The main challenge in this marketing strategy is keeping the customers on your side, and OnePlus/ Xiaomi are very successful in doing that. They show that every opinion matters and they actually pay attention to the people wants.

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