An Executive Summary of Chinese Smartphone Brands and Companion Products

March 11th, 2021 by

Introduction & Methodology

The consumer technology industry is constantly evolving with new gadgets and gizmos being unveiled frequently. We have analysed the online presences of six Chinese consumer technology brands to see what they’re doing to develop their European market shares. We have specifically focused on how these brands have begun creating ecosystems of companion products around their smartphones. 

This analysis uses public quantitative data extracted from a combination of social insight tools, combined with the proprietary data from Socially Powerful. The amalgamation of quantitative and qualitative data forms the Socially Powerful Index. It gives a direct indication of how a brand effectively uses social media in combination with influencer marketing relative to its peers. 

6 brands were analysed in total. The primary objective was to understand the key steps brands take in order to establish a technological ecosystem and develop their communities. The 6 brands were selected based on their existing presence in the European market. These brands are Huawei, Xiaomi, OnePlus, RealMe, Oppo and Vivo.

Chinese smartphone brands have begun diversifying their product portfolios as a result of internal and external factors

These factors include the need for new revenue streams, tech and infrastructure developments and global trade and political challenges. Consequently, Chinese consumer tech brands have begun creating ecosystems around their smartphones. This ecosystem links physical products and software to produce consumers with seamless user experiences that easily integrates into their everyday lives.

As a result, these brands are adapting their D2C retail strategies

Chinese smartphone brands have begun adapting their retail strategies to sell companion products directly to consumers. Most brands have developed European online stores that customers can purchase directly from. To support sales from this store, some have also developed social commerce capabilities that help drive traffic to the website. The majority of brands also sell their products on popular ecommerce marketplaces such as Amazon, Lazada and AliExpress, through which, brands are able to leverage influencer affiliate marketing.

Nurturing communities has become a key-focus to ensure sales

Brands’ communities have never been more important than now. Many have begun investing in nurturing their communities and existing customers as they are the most likely to repeat purchase from a brand, or impulse buy companion products. Huawei has implemented influencer marketing and exclusive music events for its headphones, RealMe has been hosting competitions and giveaways where customers can win a set of headphones and OnePlus has created limited-edition headphones. By ensuring the loyalty of their community and existing customers, these brands can almost guarantee sales of their companion products.

Brands have leveraged the success of hero products to cross-sell companion products

Smartphones remain the hero product of Chinese consumer tech brands, but by harnessing the success and popularity of smartphones and their nurtured communities, some have successfully begun cross-selling their headphones. Huawei has developed a solid ecosystem around its smartphones, with loyal customers purchasing headphones and bringing their discussions and reviews online. Xiaomi and OnePlus have promotions running where customers can purchase a smartphone and receive a free pair of headphones, creating and integrating an immediate ecosystem for their customers.

Key Findings

1. Huawei is leveraging is strong brand equity and smartphone success to drive awareness and cross-sell its companion products

Focusing on Huawei, Oppo, OnePlus, Vivo, RealMe and Xiaomi, we discovered that Huawei has the most developed and integrated ecosystem on its social media. It has been in the European market for the longest, and has successfully integrated the promotion of companion products into its overarching marketing strategy. It has created a strong online community with music events, influencer marketing and a community lifestyle forum.

2. RealMe’s focus on community nurturing results in thriving companion product conversations

While RealMe is still growing its presence in Europe, it’s efforts at solidifying its community have resulted in thriving headphone conversations online. Though it is yet to utilise influencer marketing for its headphones, it holds competitions and giveaways for its customers and positions itself as a high quality tech brand that provides consumers with an incredible user experience.

3. Xiaomi begins developing its community companion product marketing

Xiaomi has a strong fanbase for its smartphones and has begun promoting its headphones to this audience. Xiaomi promotes its headphones around key events in the year, such as Christmas and Fashion Weeks, and often reposts user generated content which encourages its community to make more content. It has begun creating an ecosystem with a promotion where customers receive a free pair of headphones if they purchase a Mi 10T Pro smartphone.

4. OnePlus gradually introduces headphones to its community

OnePlus has introduced smartphones into its marketing strategy gradually by uploading one Instagram post a month, with key messaging around how seamlessly the headphones can be integrated with its smartphones. Though it is yet to introduce influencer marketing to its headphone promotions, OnePlus launched its most recent headphones alongside a new smartphone, suggesting to its community they should be used as a pair.

5. Oppo develops community forum for its audience

Oppo primarily focuses on its smartphones and smartwatches within its marketing strategy, but has begun developing its forum, ColorOS, so customers can share or search for reviews on specific headphone products. It has developed a community through influencer marketing for its smartphones and watches, but we are yet to see this for its headphones.

6. Vivo develops its online community, but not its customer journey

Vivo has only just begun developing its communities across Europe, and had begun incorporating its headphones in a wider social media activation with the hashtag #ItMakesMeHappy. However, it potentially struggles to achieve high online mentions due to its headphones being hard to find in Europe as they are unavailable to purchase through Vivo’s online store.

7. In order to stay relevant, brands must nurture and grow their existing communities

In order to create a successful ecosystem of companion products, brands need to develop and nurture their existing communities, so current customers will stay loyal. This can be done through seamless integration of D2C channels, including owned websites, owned social accounts and pre-existing marketplaces, and with influencer marketing. Without a natural, easy journey, brands will not be able to stay relevant with their existing customers, let alone new ones.

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

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