November 8, 2014 by ...
Did you know that over three-quarters of Xiaomi’s Chinese customers are men? Well it is true. Due to the nature of Xiaomi’s business model and the way it positions itself, Xiaomi is capitalizing on one of the biggest niche markets on the planet. The post 1980’s generation in China.
Who are they?
Over 30 years ago Beijing stated that with very few exceptions each couple could have only one child. This lead to a segment of Chinese who grew up as only children. The ‘post 80’s’ are known as the ‘little emperors’ in kind terms and other not so polite names as well.
Psych profile of China’s post-80’s youths
Due to many factors, the one-child generation has many challenges. These have no doubt impacted their worldview and psychological makeup. Here is what the China Daily had to say about China’s fengqin or ‘angry youth’,
-‘Yuan Yue, the president and CEO of consultancy group Horizon Research, said about 65 percent of the overall post-80s generation – aged 20 to 29 – were from one-child families, while that figure rose to 85 percent in urban areas.
-During their advancing years, they have been branded spoilt, materialistic and self-centered, and accused of lacking a sense of social responsibility.
-These 20-somethings often use the Internet to publicly express their views on politics and society,
-Their hyper-nationalistic and slightly anti-US sentiments, which started to emerge in the late 1990s, stand in sharp contrast to the Chinese youth of 20 years ago.’
Nationalism and China’s ‘Man problem‘
Due to this draconian one-child policy, China has an overabundance of men. Within years there will be approximately 30 million ‘leftover’ Chinese dudes. Such large numbers are hard to fathom so let me put that into perspective for you. In a matter of years, China will have as many ‘extra’ men, as Australia has people. For ever Australian, there is a Chinese man without a female mate.
Setting aside the fact that 30 million of them cannot find a wife, these guys are faced with pressure that few men outside of China can understand. Even if they find a suitable mate, that does not mean they are fit for marriage. In China a man usually must own a home before his bride will say ‘I do.’
Once again, this is not as easy as it seems. One square meter of Beijing property can cost anywhere from 50,000-100,000 RMB. With recent grads earning 2,000 or less, their prospects seem bleak. Things look no better for people under 30 who are lucky to make four times that amount. Doing the math we see that this demographic would have to work
Cost of house
100 square meters x 80,000 per = 8,000,000 RMB
Average wage 8,000 per month
8,000,000/8,000= 1,000 months or 83.33 years
Wow, that’s quite a long time to work in order to buy a measly 100 square meters. But then again their family usually helps them pay the cost as well. Families in China can be an all-or-nothing prospect, which brings up another stressor, however.
The problem with family is that each one child is expected to support his parents and in-laws plus a pair of grandparents. Thus, each man is responsible for the livelihood of six people. We have already seen that this cost is added to that overwhelming burden of buying a home and it becomes obvious why so many Chinese youth are termed ‘angry’, the pressure on them is immense.
Xiaomi building a ‘man hut’?
So why do men overwhelmingly choose Xiaomi and what does this have to do with Xiaomi customers? After all, women buy smart phones too. What is it in it the Xiaomi DNA which calls the men to action?
Xiaomi plays on traits key to men in general and the post 80’s generation specifically. Nationalism comes out loud and clear in Xiaomi’s Red Army themed mascot and other technical gear. It is not a coincidence that the bunny is sporting the red star of communism on his forehead and rocking the Chinese army garb. As the China Daily reported, nationalism is an emotional driver for this segment. It would only make sense to leverage this emotion with pro-China imagery.
Another reason that men prefer Xiaomi is that the phones are for tinkerers. One key to Xiaomi’s success, especially with the guys, is the hack-ability of its phones. Simply put, Xiaomi kit is meant to be toyed with. Each Friday it releases software updates which were formed with the help of fanboys. The company also solicits suggestions about product features as well. In China toying with electronics is much more of a ‘man thing’. With a surplus 30 million guys, this is a great market indeed.
Related to the above and crucial to Xiaomi’s success is crowdsourcing. It engenders active participation. As mentioned here, Xiaomi apes Linux by encouraging all users to get involved. Aside from creating intimacy, this cuts costs as well. Xiaomi plugs into millions of beta testers on the cheap. The lack of potential partners means this demographic can spend more clock cycles hacking instead of wasting them on dating.
Why this is important
Xiaomi caters to the post-1980’s crowd which is unlike its predecessors. They are more nationalistic and searching for a local hero. Lei Jun and Xiaomi provide them this chance.
Aggressive marketing targets China’s men. These people support a local firm who is not ‘price gouging’ them as many believe Apple does. Aside from this, Xiaomi fans are active participants in its products and their development. This is something no Apple fanboy can claim.
This duo of intimacy and ‘us versus them’ ethos, are the most potent building blocks of the Xiaomi way.