Xiaomi’s journey from the heart of China to the world
For a company that is less than a decade old, Xiaomi’s list of achievements and accolades is extraordinarily long. In a relatively short time, it has become an incredibly formidable force in the global consumer electronics market. Founded on 6 April 2010 by entrepreneur Lei Jun, who currently serves as its chairman and CEO, and seven other co-founders, Xiaomi began its journey with the Android-based MIUI mobile operating system, and came up with its first MIUI-powered smartphone, the Mi 1, in 2011, which was the beginning of a legacy that continues to stand strong to this day. As of July 2019, Xiaomi has taken the 468th position on the elite Fortune Global 500 list – the youngest company to make this list – and is currently the world’s fourth-largest maker of smartphones.
Unlike many of its rivals and competitors, Xiaomi’s attitude toward the customer is radically different in the sense that it does not alienate its users with awe, but instead focuses on treating them like valued friends. Xiaomi’s aggressively honest pricing strategies are often reflective of this warmth. Instead of turning good technology into some kind of elusive holy grail that only the obscenely rich can afford, Xiaomi has strived to bring something to the table for everyone, regardless of their purchasing power, starting from sub-BDT 10,000 phones like the Redmi Go, and going all the way up to high-end flagship models like the new Redmi K20 Pro. Many of their products can often go toe-to-toe with similar (but far more expensive) devices from other manufacturers and still hold their own. Sure, corners are often cut and necessary sacrifices are made when the concerns about cost minimization come into play, but Xiaomi’s extraordinary attention to product design and quality control means that the cut corners are rarely missed. The philosophy of innovation runs strong in Xiaomi’s culture, and its success as a company is a testament to that fact.
Xiaomi’s global expansion began in 2014, and as of now, their products have officially made their way to over 80 countries and regions around the world, in many of which they have already secured some of the topmost spots in the market. Currently, over 40% of Xiaomi’s total revenue comes from overseas sales, particularly from countries such as India, Indonesia, Western Europe, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and the Middle East. In the second quarter of 2019 alone, XIaomi’s revenue from international markets rose to RMB 21.9 billion, showing a meteoric growth of 33.1% over the preceding quarter.
And indeed, Xiaomi’s success is not only reflected by hard numbers, but also by how it is shaping global trends in terms of product designs and features. Xiaomi has always made it a point to understand the needs and psychology of their consumers and work their findings into their products and services. Xiaomi was one of the first smartphone makers to understand the importance of long battery lives, which was something most other manufacturers took a long time to catch on to. Nowadays, it is pretty much standard fare to find a battery with a capacity of around 4,000mAh in a smartphone, something that probably would not have managed to become mainstream without Xiaomi’s persistent inclusion of high-capacity batteries in their sets, as a major smartphone manufacturer. When Apple did away with the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, many manufacturers rapidly followed suit, but Xiaomi has continued to buck this counterintuitive trend by boldly retaining this feature even on their premium devices, protecting the users’ audio gear from what can only be described as strategically planned obsolescence. Xiaomi was also one of the first companies to release the Mi Mix, an avant-garde smartphone with a massive full-face display – a crowning achievement of smartphone design – almost a year before the oddly similar-looking iPhone X was released to claims of supposed originality and innovation. Even Xiaomi’s reinterpretation of Android, the MIUI operating system, is jam-packed with features that one would actually use, instead of being stuffed with bloatware that slows phones down, and its superb optimization provides a perfect balance between performance and battery life.
Xiaomi’s official entrance into the Bangladeshi market took place on July 2018, with the launch of the Redmi S2, closely followed by the Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite a month later. Before the company’s official launch in Bangladesh, numerous importers – also known as the grey market – had already started unofficially bringing in Xiaomi phones and tablets, which were well-received enough by local users to pave the way for the company’s official launch. After the official launch, the company rapidly expanded its offerings across every price segment, which enabled it to become the third-largest smartphone brand in Bangladesh in a shockingly short amount of time. When Xiaomi launched the magnificent Pocophone F1 later that year, it established a record that is yet to be broken by any other smartphone brand in Bangladesh, selling BDT 60 million worth of Pocophone F1 handsets in only 30 minutes after the sale began. And this year, with the launch of their new flagship, the mighty Redmi K20 Pro, Xiaomi has upped its game considerably, offering a superb price-performance balance that can challenge that of even the loftiest of rival flagships from competing brands.
As an integral part of its brand promise, Xiaomi Bangladesh puts heavy emphasis on providing excellent after-sales service through a total of 11 exclusive authorized Xiaomi service centers, and their numbers are expected to grow over the upcoming years. The after-sales experience is just as important as the product experience, if not more, and Xiaomi has taken it to heart by allowing consumers and potential buyers to reach out across a myriad of online and offline channels to get their queries answered. In order to maximize the effectiveness of its after-sales service, the company has also taken it as a serious mission to build and train its local team to the fullest. Xiaomi Bangladesh’s elite marketing team is constantly working hard to make it a brand of the people, for the people, and their efforts clearly show in every campaign they deploy.
Xiaomi enjoys a unique kind of fan loyalty, one that is equally grounded in hard facts and figures as it is in emotional connections.
With all its successes, it should come as no surprise that Xiaomi enjoys a massive fan base in Bangladesh, with its Facebook page ‘Mi Bangladesh’ alone boasting over 2 million fans. According to SocialBakers, Mi Bangladesh has become the fastest-growing brand page in Bangladesh. The official Mi Community Bangladesh has over 68,000 officially registered users, and it sees over 100,000 active users every month, thus being primed to serve as the foundations of an exclusive Mi Fan Club for its most devoted users. The members of this community also include a great many technology enthusiasts who have made it a point to encourage their family members, friends and peers to try out and buy Xiaomi products. And indeed, Xiaomi enjoys a unique kind of fan loyalty, one that is equally grounded in hard facts and figures as it is in emotional connections.
As part of becoming a locally beloved company, Xiaomi has never shirked away from its responsibilities toward society. During the monsoon seasons, which often brings along heavy floods in various parts of Bangladesh, the Xiaomi Bangladesh team has distributed relief to the suffering people of said regions.
Xiaomi Bangladesh’s journey, however, has not been without its share of hurdles. While Xiaomi’s official sales have almost doubled, the presence of the grey market continues to become more and more of a hindrance, as it opens up avenues for the arrival of counterfeit and illegal smartphones, and it has become a necessity for the company to encourage potential and existing consumers alike to buy genuine products from official distributors to avoid unpleasant incidents. The implementation of new Government-mandated IMEI-based phone registration procedures is expected to remedy this issue significantly.
“Xiaomi has always believed in providing innovation for everyone and will continue to do so,” says Ziauddin Chowdhury, Country General Manager of Xiaomi Bangladesh. “We are looking to build a wider fan base, and focus on giving the best to our users. We hope to bring many more products across categories to Bangladesh market in the next five years, along with delivering on our promises of bringing exceptional after-sales and honest pricing to the market.”
Xiaomi’s success story is not one built on mindless profiteering, but one that shows what a company can become when it listens to their customers and delivers what they want, in an affordable and practical form. Time and again, they have managed to cause seismic changes in the market with products and strategies that have forced their rivals to shift from the status quo in terms of design and pricing, keeping the market from becoming stagnant. As its Bangladeshi counterpart, Xiaomi Bangladesh has already shown immense promise, and we look forward to seeing what they have in store for us in the future.