Tough beginning in China for Apple

 The Californian giant Apple, the world’s most valuable brand with a valuation of $118.9 billion, had to face many challenges when he decided to conquer the Chinese market which was said to be an El’Dorado with its 1,3 billion consumers.

Local competitors

   Smartphones having been produced in Chinese factories for years, Chinese industries got to know how to make them. And today they make them for themselves, and they make them top of the art, more and more innovating and most of the time less expensive than Apple’s products.  Furthermore, they know the Chinese market and consumers, which is clearly an advantage on the American worlwilde leader here.




Technical obstacles

   Not only had (and still have) Apple to deal with a stronger and stronger competitivity of local companies, but there  were also many technical obstacles. The 3G standards were not compatible with the iPhones, but this problem have been solved with the 4G. But the problem concerning the App store remains. It is indeed under control of the chinese autorities who decide on which applications can or cannot be used….

Partnership with China Mobile


   Apple initiated in 2013 a partnership with China Mobile for the sale of iPhone . The American giant already had two partners on the Chinese flour: ChinaUnicom and China Telecom. But with 763 million of subscribers, China Mobile is bigger than the two previous ones together. Such a partnership allowed Apple to get more trust , more visibility, to come up with better offers in term of price, and to be present on a larger scale, China Mobile representing  more than 3000 shops on the territory. According to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO,  this would also be an efficient way to reduce the so called grey market.


A successful strategy

And indeed, Apple’s sales have been on the rise since then. The brand though declared this year record sales, mainly due to the succes of its iPhone6 and iPhone6 Plus and to the record high sale in China!  They rose by 71% up to 16,8 trillion dollars! Apple even managed to sale more iPhones in China than in the USA on last semester. The iPhone6 launched last automn became a valued present for February Chinese New Year.


A larger Screen and a moving commercial

One of the reason for the success of this new iPhone might be its larger screen. But not only. Apple aired this year its first commercial targeting specifically Chinese customers. This addvertissing untittled … is the chinese version of the american holliday ad “The Song”. It uses chinese actresses and shows a variety of Apple products. This videos centers around a young girl who finds a vintage record sung by her grandmother. She secretly learn the song and manage to record her voice alongside with her grandmother’s on her iPad. The add ends on the image of the girl and her grandmother listening to it together. A very touching image, the kind of stories Chinese people like…

Why is this story telling engaging for Chinese?

In China, there has been an increasing problem between technology and the family unit. Young Chinese have become tech and internet oriented as well as strongly inclined to leave their elders behind rather than supporting them. By doing so they clearly break away from traditional China, making retirement and aging a big problem.

In this video, Apple’s video shows its product as a technology bridging the gap betweenn young people and their grandparents.

A good storytelling in China must stem from a good knowledge of the Chinese society current trends. Family, technology and internet staying at the top of the list.

Find more about story telling in China on this page.

Take a look at  Xiaomi’s buzz oriented-marketing strategy over there

We can design a buzz campaign for you in China



Marketing to China