Xiaomi, a once red-hot Chinese hardware startup touted as the China’s answer to Apple, is encountering serious challenges from local competitors of Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei in the past year. It’s even been being moved from the first to the fifth spot in the market share list.

The reasons behind this disastrous drop were multi-faceted and involve issues from supply chain management to the lack of high-end products. However, the company’s online-focused marketing strategy is widely considered as a major reason.

Born in 2010, Xiaomi positioned itself a brand with internet DNA and tried to engage customers with its geeky positioning. This is perfectly reflected in its slogan “Born for You, Burn for MI” (为发烧而生). In line with the positioning, Xiaomi leveraged corresponding online-focused marketing strategies, rejecting physical retail stores, traditional distribution channels, and conventional advertising as a way to keep lower product prices.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.