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Chinese Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Announces Expansion Plans for Taiwan

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has announced plans to release three of its latest smartphones in Taiwan and open at least six new stores by the end of the year in plans to expand its foothold in Taiwan’s competitive mobile devices market.

In its first-ever press conference with the Taiwanese media since it was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange at the start of last month, the Chinese company announced the release of the latest version of its flagship Android smartphone, the Xiaomi 8 as well as the Xiaomi Mi A2 and budget smartphone Redmi 5.

New branding strategies

Xiaomi General Manager Henman Lee said the Chinese company planned to change branding strategies as more Taiwanese bought the company’s devices, switching from a focus on Xiaomi products to encouraging customers to bond with the brand.

Lee said that the average Xiaomi customer is aged between 17 and 36. The most frequent users of Xiaomi mobile devices were tech-savvy men in their late twenties.

In new plans for the Taiwanese market, the Chinese corporation plans to introduce an app called the “Mi Family” that allows users to create online cartoony stickers of themselves. The user selects their own hairstyle, skin color and facial features, with the app similar to one created by Japanese snack maker Pocky.

If a user changes their Facebook profile photo to their new “Mi Family” image, they are eligible to be enter a lucky draw. The company hopes once a few early adopters change their photo, more will follow.

“We don’t have an official ad campaign,” Lee says. Instead, Xiaomi promoted the brand on Facebook and in less than 24 hours over 10,000 people participated in the lucky draw promotion, Lee said.

Lee added that if such efforts to promote the brand took off, Xiaomi would ditch its current reliance on advertising campaigns featuring endorsements from A-list celebrities.

Xiaomi is also rolling out more brick and mortar stores in Taiwan, including Xiaomi Home and Xiaomi Specialty Stores.

Last year Xiaomi’s founder Lei Jun said that 1,000 Xiaomi stores would be opened around the world by 2020.

There are currently a total of six stores in Taiwan, located in Taipei, New Taipei City, Tainan, Taichung and Kaohsiung.

“We must open 10 (more) this year, and strive for 12,” said Lee.

Customer numbers in the SanChuang store, located next door to Taipei’s iconic Guanghua Digital Plaza, are still a little higher than the popular Tiangong store.

Last year, total visitor numbers reached 520,000 and the annual revenue was around US$12.6 million (NT$385 million.) This means, the store collected a monthly revenue of almost US$1 million (around NT$30 million.)

IoT Products the new driver

It is in fact IoT products, not mobile phones, that is keeping traffic high in the physical stores.

Xiaomi is investing more deeply into IoT products than phones now, with the launch of the 020 edition flash tool in August, which will allow users to integrate and update firmware across multiple devices.

There are about 10 categories of goods to be sold, in more than 120 – 130 items ranging from mobile phones to smart home appliances and other accessories.

Lee says the other products help to buoy turnover rates in times where there are no new smartphones coming out. Thanks to a wide range of products, the brand has avoided over reliance on phones and so doesn’t get battered too much by price fluctuation in the smartphone market.

On the point of store location strategy, Lee says Xiaomi aims to exploit gaps that lie between urban and rural areas in areas that have plenty of room for growth.

News source is from Business Next.