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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Xiaomi, OnePlus and the Aam Aadmi Party, Part 2

In the 1st part of this article, we looked at the meteoric rise of brands such as Xiaomi, OnePlus and a political party, the Aam Aadmi Party. So, how was the impossible made possible? Was there a method to the madness? Were there any common linkages to their respective strategies?

Clear and Distinct Messaging

The brand identity which the AAP seeks to project is a party which stands for certain clearly defined values such as Corruption Free India, Transparency and Power to People. Xioami also picks up the Power to the consumer thread by reaching out directly to them through a direct sales model and seeking constant feedback from users to improve their products.

Us vs The Enemy

The US President, George Bush once said, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”. The enemy lines were clearly defined in these cases too and the consumers/voters were asked to take a side.

In the case of AAP, the enemy was the big corporate houses and politicians, whose names were publicly disclosed by them and promises made to pursue corruption charges against them. There was no ambiguity about their stand. The definition itself made all the other parties being perceived as the forces which represented corruption and against whom the AAP was seeking to fight against.

Oneplus talks about being a product with a “Never Settle” philosophy, in terms of design and function. It calls itself the “The Flagship Killer”. The implication is that current products in the market do not qualify for the design and function perfectness which the Oneplus seeks to achieve. To make its point, the Oneplus came out with the “Smash the past” campaign where users could get an Oneplus One phone at $1 for sending a video smashing their present phone.

Here is a text from the campaign page:

“Our revolution started with a simple vow : Never Settle. Now that the OnePlus One has arrived, you don't have to anymore. Don't settle for useless features, grainy pictures, or exorbitant prices. Get rid of the past, it's time to smash it. 100 of you will be the world's first owners of the OnePlus One - all you have to do is to smash the phone you currently have.

The AAP in fact had also come out with a video campaign, directing the public to send a secretly recorded MMS of any government official offering them a bribe.

Don’t settle for corrupt practices, don’t settle for your present phone. One revolution the AAP sought to lead and another revolution, the Oneplus is seeking to lead.

Engaging with customers

All three entities being discussed here have beautifully used social media as a tool to reach out directly to users. It not just about sharing information, it is actively seeking feedback from end consumers and modifying offering accordingly.

Xiaomi, for example sends weekly updates to its software, incorporating consumer feedback.  The AAP came with the “Mohalla Sabhas”concept to seek feedback of the public on issues like allocation of MLA funds.

All have an extremely loyal customer base who is very active on the social media as brand advocates. A quote by the CEO of Xiaomi, Lei Jun, explains this concept perfectly, “Every user becomes your R&D. Every user becomes your salesman. And every user becomes your friend. That’s the company we want to build

To summarize, the brands under discussion above- The AAP, Xiaomi and Oneplus, have adopted similar approaches in their go to market. They have very sharp positioning and they identify clearly whom they are fighting against. They all have their dedicated fan community, who not just follow but promote their respective brands on social media. More than that, they give feedback which these brands use to modify their software in case of Xiaomi and the Socio-Political programs in case of the AAP, which is the concept of co-creation. Their marketing media of choice is not the ATL campaign but word of mouth and using users/supporters as brand ambassadors.

All this has resulted in each having a distinct identity of their brand in the market and also a sense of identity among their fans- like the famous Mi-Fans of Xiaomi.

This is the clutter breaking formula, which can be replicated across industries and socio-economic contexts.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Xiaomi, OnePlus and the Aam Aadmi Party, Part 1

Upstarts Xiaomi and OnePlus are shaking up the Smartphone World. Established brands and market leaders like Samsung are losing market share. The God of the present Smartphone world, Apple, is taking notice.

Another upstart, the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi has done something similar. Established parties like the Congress have seen their vote share in Delhi decimated. Since the victory in the general elections, the BJP and the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi could do nothing wrong. Successive victories and huge successes of national schemes were filling up the mass media. But the disruption, that was the AAP, reduced them to less than 5% of the seats in the Delhi assembly.

So what is happening here which is defying logic? Let us look up Modi first. The main marketing media which the BJP employed in the general election was Modi and his huge rallies. Those were a revelation then, an articulate, aggressive Modi, compared to the silence of Manmohan Singh, the erstwhile Congress PM. People lapped it up and BJP won a famous victory. Since then, the same formula used and re-used, finally lost its effectiveness in the Delhi Election. The rallies and the full page newspaper ads were still their but maybe they lost their relevance. The message which the BJP was trying to communicate was lost amidst multiple messaging from the BJP to the masses. The message was the BJP’s perception of what the people of Delhi wanted. Now we know how much wrong they had read the message.

Now, Let us look at Android. Samsung created the novelty- the phablet category, the large screen smartphones.  They were the price warriors also. They had more Galaxy Smartphones across price points than you could count. Then followed the deluge. There were no entry barriers to Android, so a host  of manufacturers followed, big and small in launching an array of Android Devices. All surprisingly had the same messaging, their perception of what the masses wanted to hear. All focused on hardware specifications. All, I am afraid are on the verge of becoming commodities.