A visit to Apple’s store in Pudong, Shanghai leave no room for doubt: the company is doing very well. Shaun Rein analyzes in CNBC how the laggard from 2009 turned into a winner in 2011, where other retailers like BestBuy, Home Depot and Mattel‘s Barbie retreat.
When selling the iPhone, Apple was the victim of its own appeal. Shaun Rein:
Originally, Apple waited too long to get the iPhone into the market. By the time the iPhone officially sold there, early adopters had already bought around 2 million cracked versions smuggled in from the U.S. and Hong Kong.
So for the iPad, Apple used a different tack. Instead of waiting years as it did with the iPhone, Apple waited only months after it came out in the U.S. to launch the iPad in China. Consumers did not feel the need to travel abroad to shop when they knew products were coming to them soon.
When a brand does not release its new products on time in the Chinese market, the 50 million Chinese who travel abroad will pick up the products there, making a launch in China a guaranteed failure. Offering a high-standard store, not selling through dodgy retailers, did the trick for Apple’s products:
Image by Fantake via Flickr Shaun Rein
Like in other markets, Apple’s new stores are fun to shop in, have great service, and consumers trust that they are buying the real thing. Unlike with Best Buy, which sold too many of the same products at higher prices, Apple is differentiating both its service and its products from other retailers while keep a uniform pricing scheme in the country. There is a significantly wider gap in the quality of experience between shopping at an Apple Store and a reseller in a dingy electronics mall than between shopping at a Best Buy and a Gome, China’s largest electronics superstore chain.