Watch Out – Apple’s China Turnaround

We have heard about Chinese selling their bodies, body parts and siblings in order to buy the latest iPhone.  Apple is now the most profitable tech entity operating in China. In the financial year to September 2022, Apple’s operating profits in Greater China shot up 104 percent over 24 months, to 224 billion RMB (48 billion AUD) (Jing Daily). How did it go from number 6 to number 1 in 12 months?

We need to look to Chinese culture to find out – and in so doing, we can learn a valuable lesson about pitching our own products and services to a Chinese audience – respect the culture.

In advertising and merchandising, Apple has grasped two key points:
1)Aspiration for luxury goods/status – Face,
2)Language – not just using Chinese words to sell the dream, but putting it into the right cultural context – using the right actors and speaking to the locals in their language, using their symbols/icons to create a real connection with Chinese consumers.

Face and self-esteem or reputation lead many Chinese people, especially the young and upwardly mobile, to seek out high-end and prestigious products. Chinese consumers see the Apple brand as one to be desired – a status symbol. Also in a culture where relationships are key to advancement, the value of Apple products as gifts to curry favour cannot be underestimated.

Apple has been successfully positioning its products as status symbols. It has worked at the store level to let the locals know it understands Chinese culture and sells the products in a Chinese context, and by creating a place you want to be seen with lots of action happening in store. In one of its advertisement Apple used calligraphy and a local artist penning a poem about his hometown to show viewers that it respects local culture while ‘subtly’ getting the Apple message out.

Whichever way you look – traditional culture, modern merchandising, status gifts or status symbol, Apple has given brands a lesson in how to turn around their fortunes.

Want to find out more on how to position your brand in a way that appeals to your target Chinese customers? Contact our marketing team, or give us a call at 1300 792 446 and talk to one of our Chinese marketing specialists today!


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