If only this brand knew that China could be a serious disruptor… they could’ve stood a chance – why some brands need to consider an “Inconsideration to China” marketing strategy

New and emerging household tech brands have a lot more room in today’s market to generate and receive brand awareness rapidly; thanks to digital. When it comes to manufacturing, China is the largest manufacturing economy in the world, with a 22% share of manufacturing activity (source: mapi.net); this post illustrates how this can affect a new emerging brand’s power to not just penetrate, but to get past the first hurdle of awareness.

 

The other day I got what I call one of my “light bulb” moments. I was thinking, what if someone invented a straightening brush – as in an actual brush with the ability to straighten hair at the same time? This thought came to my head because I was having a particularly rough time with straightening my own hair – to illustrate and give some context, I (as with a lot of other women) have to use a brush in one hand and straightener in the other – this takes a lot of skill  and can be quite a chore with thicker hair, anyway I digress.

I was really curious to see if this random thought of mine was a “thing”, so I jumped on to YouTube (not Google funnily enough) to search and see if such a tool existed.

It did.

And lo and behold, there were quite a few videos demonstrating how to use this (relatively) new device – video tutorials started appearing around Nov-15.

Here’s one of the videos that really influenced me:

 

After watching a few of these videos I was a happy consumer and convinced about buying this new tool. This is when I decided to jump on Google.

I saw a few links on what I call “unknown” shopping sites (sites that don’t have enough credibility for me to part with my cash) but mostly links from eBay and one or two from Amazon.

I saved a few products (the straightening brush) from various sellers to purchase later on eBay (I’m a huge eBay fan); as I still wanted to do some more research. Worth noting at this point that price points on eBay were around the £15 to £25 mark.

I jumped back on YouTube for more research and on one of the videos I was watching I discovered that there was actually an “original” straightening brush brand (the reviewer was doing a comparison) that launched this new ‘revolutionary’ product some months back – around Oct-15. It’s called the ‘Dafni Hair Straightening Ceramic Brush’ with a price point of $300 (whoa)!

No wonder clones of their products developed so fast! I’m not an economist, but it’s no secret that China’s economy is booming. You can literally get anything made for a fraction of what it’ll cost here (in UK) for example.

 

Here are some interesting stats to consider:

Country GDP GDP Growth Q3 2015 GDP Per Capita Labour Force Population
China $12,985 trillion 6.9% $9,281 787.6 million 1,401,586,609
USA $18,125 trillion 2.1% $54,421 156 million 322,583,006
UK $2,945 trillion 0.5% $46,244 31.30 million 63,843,856
India $2,792 trillion 7.4% $2,188 502.3 million 1,290,597,750

Source: IMF, World Bank, Various search results

So, in less than 2 months, clone’s of Dafni’s products have gone from production to consumer and is probably outselling the initial product, and interest for “hair straightening brush” has started to appear and looks like it’ll overtake interest for the initial brand that came up with the idea.

See image below:

Source: Google trends

 

I checked out some hair forums online (there are some seriously devoted “hair-lista’s” out there that tell it like it is) and most comments were in praise of the cloned products with many forum users boasting about how cheap they got theirs for. There were some comments that I secretly think were from Dafni’s employee’s rubbishing the clones calling them inferior and dangerous (China, I believe, has some issues with electronic products not complying to standards set by western countries such as UK).

The problem is, the brand’s (Dafni’s) positioning just wasn’t/isn’t strong enough.

After searching online, I couldn’t really find them on the main/popular social media channels, even though consumers (the ones that actually bought their products) are actively posting about them (very few posts in number mind). The cloned brushes are currently getting 4x – 5x the exposure Dafni is getting on Instagram for example.

The issue with launching electronics (whether they are manufactured in China or not) is that China has to be a major factor in the business plan; you have to plan for the inevitable.

In Dafni’s case there are a few things they should have done – let’s call this the “Inconsideration to China Marketing Strategy”:

 

  1. Sorted out a patent. I’m not a patent lawyer and can’t give an opinion on how this works, but surely there must be some protection…right?
  2. Started off with a more appealing price point. $300 is ok if you’re not planning to sell to the masses and only planning to sell to luxury/premium consumers.
  3. Made sure they were eCommerce ready from day one…
  4. …and sell worldwide. Their site is weird and only covers certain regions: http://www.dafnihair.com/en/where-to-buy/
  5. Made sure they sold on all the regular channels, eBay, Amazon etc. but especially eBay!
  6. Prepared a killer social media strategy…seriously, this should have been a no-brainer. Their product is serious social media fodder. Instagram would have been (and is) brilliant for a product like this. Sadly there are a ton of random people on Instagram (fondly known as IG boutiques for those not “down with the kids”) slapping their own branding on the clones and creating the buzz Dafni should have received *insert sad face emoji*.
  7. Prepared a killer YouTube strategy. Technically this comes under point 6, but I think YouTube is a beast of its own. How-to videos are all the rage and demand for the content is still outweighing the supply. So a seriously, serious, YouTube strategy is not to be sniffed at (currently Dafni has 2 videos and 585 subscribers – but a healthy 179,321 views. However there are about 32,800 results for the term “straightening hair brush” on YouTube – at the time of writing this post).
  8. Generated proper press from day one. With this kind of ‘revolutionary’ product, you either go big or you go home.

 

There is obviously a lot more they could have done, but we’re not being paid to consult so will say no more *insert laughing emoji*.

In summary, if you want to launch or even market a household electronic product targeting a lucrative demographic (millenials-Gen Y, Gen Z etc) you have to develop an “Inconsideration to China Marketing Strategy” of your own, otherwise you’ll find yourself in the same predicament as Dafni; with potential consumers finding out about the clone before even knowing your brand exists.

 

And in case you’re curious or just wondering, I did buy the clone. It works great and only cost me around 5% of Dafni’s marketed price in pounds!

 

N.B.

At the time of writing this post there are currently 3,505 items listed for this product on eBay (UK) and 944 items listed on Amazon (UK). Go figure!