When you take a look at the different companies in the mobile industry, many of them have big, huge, advertising budgets and they spend millions on ads and marketing every single year. Samsung and Apple both spent over $350 million in advertising back in 2013, which was the cost of all those commercials, magazine ads and online ad spots that were seen virtually everywhere. With companies like Xiaomi, this isn’t the case. Xiaomi is growing rapidly and has risen to become the most valued startup at around $45 billion, having only begun as a company just four years ago. They’re a huge smartphone company and presence in China and yet they spend next to nothing on advertising and marketing according to Hugo Barra.
Barra spoke at the Mobile World Congress event this week and talked about a number of things, including about how they have no plans to bring their app store to other markets outside of China, specifically because in every other market outside of their home country where they sell their products they’re a Google Services partner, which means the Play Store is installed on those devices. Barra also spoke about how they at Xiaomi typically don’t spend any money on marketing costs, stating that “We don’t spend pretty much any money buying media, maybe just a little money boosting a Facebook post.”
That kind of mentality has led them to focusing their marketing efforts towards social media very heavily, but that kind of strategy works for them because as Barra mentions they have a very large following of early adopter types that have a need to show off their stuff to their friends, and introduce them to the brand. Marketing through social media then is a great way for them to reach customers because those customers can readily share with others right in the same social media platform. Barra highlights the power of their social media marketing strategy by pointing out the legion of some 200,000 people who showed up to purchase handsets from their partner after the announcement that Xiaomi was expanding into India, which Barra notes as remarkable seeing as how they only had about 10,000 followers on Facebook where the announcement was made. This is a good illustrator that social media can be a powerful thing, even in marketing, when in contrast to traditional marketing campaigns.