How did Apple launch their products in China and what can we learn from them?
Conducting business in China is notoriously difficult. The government has many roadblocks, particularly for technology firms. Competition is incredibly cutthroat, especially with all of the local companies who are trying to grab their share of the up and coming growing industries and new wealth that the country is obtaining.
Apple managed to do what many thought was an impossible task and cracked the Chinese market. It took a lot of perseverance, but many Western companies can look on this as a good example of how to go about business when trying to deal with the Chinese market. The majority of Apple’s recent profits have stemmed from the Chinese market, as the iPhone is the top selling smartphone in the whole country.
The middle class
China’s proportion of middle-class people has significantly increased in recent years. Therefore, this has also increased the number of consumers who are ready and able to buy expensive goods and services. Apple launched their iPhone in China during a time where China was doing increasingly well economically, and at a time where Chinese consumers wanted to purchase superior Western products. When Apple initially tried to market the 5C, which is a much lower technologically advanced phone, it didn’t do very well at all. Chinese consumers wanted premium, and luckily for Apple, they listened.
Understanding their audience
When Apple finally signed with China Mobile, it was able to tap into a network of approximately 760 million people. It was the perfect chance to bring the iPhone to the Chinese mainstream population. It took a very long time to negotiate and meet the mobile carrier’s needs and requirements, but ultimately it paid off.
What really ignited Apple’s success, is that it launched the iPhone 6 plus in a country where, when technology is concerned, bigger is always better. A lot of people do not own televisions in their homes, and the Chinese youth use their phones for almost everything, whether that’s watching videos and chatting, or playing video games. This means that having a big screen is even more important to them.
Apple also did not release many products at once, which is a mistake Samsung apparently made. It’s a lot easier to market one or two products and to get consumers to pay a premium price, rather than bombarding your potential customers with many different options, especially if some of these are budget options.
The Apple brand is a status symbol, but it also allows Chinese customers to feel like they are connecting with the global economy, which is something that they desperately want. Apple managed to release a product that looks identical in every single way to a product that is sold worldwide, at the same time as meeting all of the Chinese standards and regulations that are imposed on technology like this.
The Chinese government’s push towards the country becoming a consumer-driven economy will surely help Western companies gain favor and traction with Chinese customers in the near future.