November 11, 2014 by ...
Xiaomi likes the color red. Its entry level version is the ‘Red’ Mi, its phablet shares that name, and even its soldier-rabbit proudly sports a 5-pointed red star. Of course this star is nothing less than a symbol of the communist party, but is it merely coincidence?
Xiaomi’s red roots
Xiaomi’s founder, Lei Jun, is a proud member of the communist party and its top law making body. If nothing else, this proves his love for the motherland. Perhaps this is what drove him to originally choose the name ‘Red Star’ for his company, as reported here.
Being a member in good standing of the communist party, the significance of the red star symbol was surely not lost on him. Maoist doctrines were replete with red star imagery and how it represented the five fingers of a workers hand. The group which was to be the backbone of China. Interestingly enough, Xiaomi targets this same demographic for its product. Mao would be proud.
From Red Star to ‘Guns and Rice’
Unfortunately for Lei Jun, the name Red Star was taken, he would just have to settle for something else. This did not take long as they then decided on ‘Xiaomi’ which according to President Lin Bin, was about revolution and hearkened back to the use of that term in the Sino-Japanese war. At that time ‘Xiaomi’ was used to describe ‘millet and rifles’ or food and guns used to support the communist cause. (小米加步枪)
In fact, this Xiaomi approach was the method of choice for the Mao lead communist soldiers. ‘The anti-Japanese united front represented a truce of sorts between the two Chinese sides, and with the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937 the government designated the communist forces the Eighth Route Army. Thereafter each fought the Japanese in its own way: the government forces attempted to maintain a conventional defense, the Communists a fluid “war of millet and rifles.’ Link
In China, nationalism sells
It should come as no surprise then, that military themed gear dot the Xiaomi landscape. Where else can one find Routers dressed up as Chinese military tanks and mascots commemorating 1921, the year that that the communist party was founded?
The strategy is a good one, however, as over 75% of Xiaomi’s customers are men between 16-35, a demographic that tends to be very nationalistic. With Xiaomi selling more phones than any other company in China, it stands to reason that in China, nationalism sells.
If you would like to read about Xiaomi’s non-answer to questions I posed them about this issue then merely click here.