When asked about the secret of Xiaomi’s success, the answer is largely our robust Mi Fan base. Our fans have shared their excitement, input and advice from day one and help create a unique Xiaomi culture that spans the globe.
Li Wanqiang, our co-founder who leads Xiaomi’s marketing team, shared insight into Xiaomi’s Mi Fans and culture in his bestselling book, Sense of Engagement.
In the book’s foreword, Xiaomi Founder and CEO Lei Jun writes, “Four years ago, when I was creating Xiaomi, my idea was that no matter how big this company becomes in the future, we must run it like a small restaurant, a company where users can take part.”
And take part, they do! Our Mi Fans show up in full force for events around the world.
Mi Fan registration and experiential area at Mi A1 launch in India, September 2017
Enthusiastic Mi Fans at the opening of the first Authorized Mi Store in Barcelona
Befriending users and letting them take part in Xiaomi’s future has been at the core of our company from the beginning. As Li Wanqiang points out, friendship provides the strongest trust. We are not only selling products but delivering a sense of community.
We welcome users to participate in our product development and advancement. In fact, Xiaomi users improved the MIUI system and with many foreign users taking part, Mi Fans launched English, Spanish and Portuguese MIUI versions on their own.
Alex García Iskenderun, loyal Mi Fan, has been highly engaged in MIUI’s development and enhancement since he was first introduced to Xiaomi eight years ago and shared, “I fell in love with MIUI at first sight. I have always been a very creative person and wanted to do my bit to change the world. MIUI allowed me to use my creativity.”
Alex built a website dedicated to the Spanish version of MIUI, bringing like-minded people together in one place. As a result, on January 11, 2011, miui.es was born.
In 2011, Alex became one of 100 MIUI beta testers before the first Xiaomi smartphone, Mi 1 was announced.
“Mi 1 was my first Xiaomi device, which I still have,” he recalled. “If you open the back cover you can see it has the number 35. If I remember correctly, only 100 numbered units were made.”
Alex still keeps his Mi 1
Now Alex has joined us as senior manager of the Mi Community in Spain.
“The best part of Xiaomi is its ability to let fans be part of their family and listen to them. I had no regulated studies, no experience in a technology company… but for Xiaomi, that is not a problem. They understand that I have something to contribute and I want to contribute,” he said.
Sometimes Mi Fans find even more than they hope for at our events. This happened to Indonesian Mi Fan Fajar Yogas who found his “other half,” Dea, at a Mi Fan roadshow in Surabaya in May 2016. The newly-wed couple was cheered by other Mi Fans when they were invited to the stage during the Redmi Note 5A launch in Indonesia last December.
Fajar and Dea meet at a Xiaomi event
The newly-wed couple was cheered by other Mi Fans when they were invited to the stage during the Redmi Note 5A launch in Indonesia last December.
Appreciation for our Mi Fans comes from the very top. Every year on our birthday, April 6, Lei Jun thanks Mi Fans in a social media post because – as we at Xiaomi all know – Mi Fans are the reason Xiaomi is where it is today.
This is Lei Jun‘s letter to all employees at our year-end gala, our most important annual event.
Dear Xiaomi colleagues,
Happy New Year!
2017 has been an extraordinary year for Xiaomi. It was a “turnaround year”, but more importantly a “leapfrog year” — a critical year in breaking new ground for our future as we embark on a new journey.
In October 2017, we exceeded the revenue goal of RMB 100 billion set at the beginning of the year. I checked — and found out that to achieve this milestone, Apple took 20 years, Facebook took 12 years, Google took nine years, Alibaba took 17 years, Tencent took 17 years, Huawei took 21 years.
Xiaomi has taken only slightly over seven years. We are very likely to enter the Fortune Global 500 list of companies this year.
Due to the improvement of our turnover capabilities, our global shipments have improved significantly since Q2 2017 — Xiaomi is back in the top 5 smartphone brands. As per IDC, we have become the world’s #4 smartphone brand in Q4 2017 in terms of shipments. Even with the overall smartphone market declining 6.3%, we managed to maintain a year-on-year growth of 96.9% — Xiaomi was the only brand with continuous growth, demonstrating the support and recognition we received from our users.
How did Xiaomi achieve this turnaround? This is because we use a telescope to look at innovation, and a microscope to examine product quality. Innovation determines how high we can fly, while product quality determines how far we can go.
1) Relentless pursuit of technology innovations, release of Surge S1 and leading the smartphone industry with Mi MIX 2
Xiaomi is driven by an engineering culture and innovation is in our DNA. In 2017 we grew from focusing our innovations on single products to a more systematic approach.
Early last year, Xiaomi launched our first chipset Surge S1 and successfully put it into mass production. We became the fourth company in the world with the ability to design and manufacture both chipsets and smartphones.
In Q3 last year, we launched Mi MIX 2, becoming a leader in the full screen display era, while the industry continues to follow this trend closely. It is the first time a Chinese consumer technology industry is leading the world’s evolution of technology.
Meanwhile, we’ve built the world’s biggest IoT platform with many advanced smart devices in our ecosystem and continuous investment in cloud services. We are also among the first to launch AI products in China.
So far, we have applied for more than 24,000 patents globally with 5920 of them granted, among which half are global patents.
2) Firm focus on quality, showing significant improvement
Quality is the lifeline of our company’s development. In early 2017, Xiaomi set up its Quality Control Committee with me as chairman. The quality of Xiaomi’s products and services is the most important mission of the company and we will improve product quality regardless of cost.
After a year’s efforts, our quality has improved significantly based on our original standards and these efforts have been widely recognized. Recently, Xiaomi was among the top ten in the “Made in China 2025” quality award, and I was also honored to receive a Quality personality award and was elected as Deputy Chairman of the China Quality Committee.
3) Rapid growth in our global business, with Xiaomi becoming #1 in India and global markets flourishing
We are present in 70 countries and regions so far globally and became top five in 16 markets. India is an extraordinary example. According to multiple research firms, starting Q3 last year, our smartphone market share in India has become number one. Also, with Indonesia representing Southeast Asia, Russia representing Eastern Europe, and Spain representing Western Europe, all our markets have shown strong growth.
Good design is a key part of the user experience, and right from the start, it has been an important focus for Xiaomi. In fact, two of our co-founders come from a background of industrial design and have extensive experience in the field. Our ongoing investment in design was greatly recognized in 2017 when we received a host of design awards, including four major awards (IDEA Gold, iF Gold, Red Dot Best of the Best, Good Design Best 100). Led by Mi MIX and Mi MIX 2, five Xiaomi smartphones bagged international design awards. The Mi MIX series was even displayed as exhibits by a range of top museums including Centre Pompidou in France, Finland’s Design Museum and Germany’s Die Neue Sammlung.
Our success comes from the core of our business model: Winning the lasting trust of our users
Amidst the difficulties and challenges we faced, we still achieved amazing results. This victory is possible only because of the effort that our 18,000 employees have put in, the unrelenting support of our Mi Fans, and ultimately Xiaomi’s business model and values.
2017 holds a deeper meaning for us — alongside our miraculous comeback, doubts about our business model have been entirely crushed. Our business model has been thoroughly tested and we have gained a lot of confidence that we are on the right path, with the right values and the right culture.
We believe that rather than pursuing short-term gains in terms of hardware profit, making sure that our products have a good user experience will enable us to succeed in the long term. Instead of many layers in the distribution channel adding multiple costs to a product, honest pricing will win our users’ hearts. As long as we continue delivering products that are innovative, powerful, with high quality and great design, and with an honest price tag, we can win the lasting trust of our users.
And winning the lasting trust of our users is the most important thing to us. Some users have said that they can walk into a Xiaomi store, close their eyes and buy anything, because they are confident that our products offer the best quality and price. This is a really strong affirmation for us as this is exactly the ultimate goal we are pursuing. By continuing to win the trust of our users, our users will choose our products without thinking twice, and our highly efficient business model can be truly realized.
A new journey in 2018: Expanding around the world and staging a comeback in China
2018 marks the start of a new journey for Xiaomi, and it is bound to be a magnificent year. We have built a solid foundation over the last seven years, and we will ride on this momentum for greater expansion, growth and quality improvement.
While continuing to focus on technology innovation and quality improvement, we will also put in a lot of effort in our overseas expansion. In 2017, I went to India three times, Indonesia twice and Vietnam once, and I saw huge and exciting opportunities wherever I went.
We have entered more than 70 markets globally and established a leading position in many of them. But this is just a start. There is still a lot of room for growth in the markets we are present in, and we have yet to enter many more markets around the globe. Overseas markets represent huge opportunities for us and we need to give more support in terms of strategy, resources, and localized product development, as well as send more of our employees out to the rest of the world.
On the domestic front, we have to start a full counter-attack and accumulate small successes into a full victory, sparing no effort to ensure that we have the ultimate victory in 2019.
In 2018, the Chinese smartphone market is poised to experience a decline for the first time after more than a decade of growth. The market is consolidating while the competition becomes more and more brutal. There is no turning back for us and we have to charge forward. The Chinese market is Xiaomi’s foundation. It is the biggest consumer electronics market in the world and the most competitive one. Only by winning in the domestic market can we have enough support for global expansion. Only by winning in China, can we win in the rest of the world.
So this year I am setting a new goal: We will regain the #1 position in China within 10 quarters.
In this battle, we should move firmly forward and set up command center at the front line. We cannot afford to lose any province, city, county and community. We should remain brave and alert, and fight to the end.
This requires us to have strong management and organizational capabilities on all fronts. So from now on, we will nurture and promote a fleet of young and capable managers, creating a more dynamic and progressive team. We will make sure that capable, ambitious, aggressive and daring talent can learn how to fight and grow rapidly.
To everyone at Xiaomi, thank you all for your continued hard work! I hope you grasp all the opportunities in this great era and bravely shoulder your responsibilities. Let us embrace the great opportunities and challenges, and have the ambition to build a great business! Let us take on the mission of delivering innovation to everyone in the world, and write a new chapter in Xiaomi’s journey!
Xiaomi’s fans – Mi Fans – are an integral part of our corporate culture. Mi Fans also contribute to our widespread reach through a new program known as Xiaomi kiosks. In March 2017, we established a new sales channel called Xiaomi kiosks to reach districts without Mi Home Stores and towns and villages with limited e-commerce access. We’ve been encouraging Mi Fans to run their own Xiaomi kiosks, allowing them to use their in-depth knowledge of Xiaomi to become a Xiaomi business partner.
A Xiaomi kiosk in a small village
Ye Rong, from Wuxi city in Southern China’s Jiangsu province, is among the first Xiaomi kiosks owners, running a 12 sq. meter Xiaomi kiosk in a district of Wuxi. He sells a wide array of trendy Xiaomi products, including the Mi AI Speaker and the Mi Temperature and Humidity Monitor.
Ye Rong’s Xiaomi kiosk
Like many other Xiaomi kiosks owners who are Internet savvy, aware of trends in technology and have developed a love for Xiaomi products, Ye Rong first became interested in Xiaomi in the summer of 2013, when he bought a Mi 3 for his father as a present.
At the start of 2014, he started to buy Redmi smartphones for his friends and acquaintances. He came to know the Xiaomi kiosks program in the start of 2017 and applied to it. After passing an exam to test his level of understanding of Xiaomi products, Ye Rong officially became a kiosk owner on June 1, 2017.
In the Xiaomi kiosks business model, owners don’t need to pay any initial fee or deposit and are given a lot of freedom, including the ability to choose the site of their kiosks. In fact, partners may choose not to have a brick-and-mortar store, and instead, have a series of pop up booths to reach customers in a variety of locations. Different from a full-scale store, Xiaomi kiosks owners can place small orders from Xiaomi headquarters to avoid the risk of excess inventory. Shop owners can also use the company’s warehouse, delivery services and post-service support. They are also given training from time to time, allowing them to share learnings and experiences from their region.
Xiaomi products on display at a Xiaomi kiosks owner’s pop-up booth
Because Xiaomi is deeply committed to fair business practices, they do require all partners abide by three key rules: all product prices must align with Mi Home stores’ sale prices, no cross-region sales and no cheating.
We have been encouraging our Mi Fan partners to use innovative methods to promote their business. Ye Rong has been glued to his Mi MIX 2, using various social media platforms to build a network of hundreds of clients. Another Mi Fan surnamed Xu, who is just 21, has achieved a monthly sales revenue of over RMB 100,000 by organizing creative roadshows in busy areas to attract new customers.
The Mi Fan, as well as Xiaomi kiosks owner surnamed Xu is organizing a roadshow
On August 2, 2017, after the first batch of Xiaomi kiosks reached a sales revenue of RMB 100 million, Ye Rong posted a WeChat group photo featuring representatives of Xiaomi kiosks owners with several Xiaomi executives. He wrote, “So proud to be part of this achievement. Thanks to all the users who have trusted me. We bring good products at honest prices, and high-quality door-to-door services as well.”
Lei Jun (on the right), founder and CEO of Xiaomi and Manu Kumar Jain (on the left), Vice President of Xiaomi and Managing Director of Xiaomi India
We have become the number one smartphone vendor in India in Q3 2017 as per IDC. With a market share of 23.5% and 9.2 million smartphones shipped in the quarter, Xiaomi has become the fastest growing smartphone brand in India, surging nearly 300% percent year-on-year! The following is a letter from Manu Kumar Jain, who oversees Xiaomi India.
Three years ago, we started our India journey…
We started with a clear goal in mind: to create high quality products and offer them at prices that allowed us to bring our innovation to everyone. We didn’t have a big team or a big budget. What we did have was extremely innovative products, a handful of dedicated people, the backing of our Mi Fans and lastly, a clear goal to disrupt the market.
We were told that our dreams were too ambitious. We were told that we would fail. Like the hundreds of startups that have come and gone, we were told we would just be another brick in the wall. But here we are three years down the line, achieving the impossible.
I’m really happy to announce that today, Xiaomi is the No.1 smartphone brand in India. This is, without doubt, the biggest feat we’ve achieved since entering the Indian market.
To put things into perspective, we started our India journey in 2014. Based on what we know, no other brand has ever managed such a feat in India within such a short period of time.
To make it easier to digest, let’s crunch on some numbers. As per IDC’s report for Q3 2017, Xiaomi India shipped 9.2 million units in this quarter and commands a 23.5% market share.
Some other trivia from the IDC report which I’d like to share with you:
I’d like to dedicate this milestone to each and every one of the Xiaomi India staff, Mi Fans, and all those who trusted us with their hard-earned money. Thank you for putting in the effort to take this company forward. Thank you for doing the impossible.
Until next time,
When you think of a brand that makes friends with its users, what comes into your mind? Xiaomi takes it to a whole new level and our sincerity and passion in engaging with our Mi Fans has gained us a following worldwide.
Our connections with Mi Fans start from the top. Our high-ranking executives, including our founder and CEO Lei Jun, interact frequently with our fans on our MIUI forum, and even meet them in person at big parties like the annual grand event Mi Pop, where sometimes executives dance for fans and send out gifts.
You’ve also probably noticed that there’s always a special zone for Mi Fans at each of our launch event. We invite fans to our launch events so they get first hand news from our executives and are able to get a hands on our latest products, instead of hearing about us only through online mediums.
We cherish the connections with our fans. In our Beijing headquarters, there’s a big cupboard full of handmade gifts from our fans.
Our loyal fan base has become an integral part of our corporate culture. Nowadays our fans have a global presence, including markets we haven’t officially entered. For example, though we just announced our official entry into Spain, we have had a loyal Xiaomi following there for a long time. In fact, two of our first 100 MIUI beta testers in 2010 were from Spain.
Ahead of our official launch in Spain, we held a party with Spanish Mi Fans on 29 October. We randomly selected five fans to speak to one-on-one about their experiences with Xiaomi, their favorite products, and their suggestions and feedback.
Spanish Mi Fans at the party, including Alex (on the right in the front row), one of our first 100 MIUI beta testers in 2010
The five Spanish Mi Fans are: Alazne, 17, a science student; Izadi, 20, computer engineering student; David, a public servant; Jorge, 37, a computerized system administration; Raul, a civil servant.
From left to right: Alazne, Izadi, David, Jorge and Raul
How did you first hear about Xiaomi?
Alazne: I got to know Xiaomi through my dad, who joined the MIUI forum and bought me the first Redmi. We used to call it the “HongMi Red Rice 1”, and that was my first Xiaomi product and introduction to the company.
Izadi: I wanted to replace my old Nokia N95 and I decided to look into the Chinese market to find a better phone with a lower price. I found Xiaomi’s Mi 1. Objectively, it didn’t have the best specs, but I loved MIUI because I could personalize it. I also saw that there was a forum where I could get my questions answered and later I decided to import my M1S Youth Edition.
David: It was out of luck. At the time, I had a HTC Nexus One and I was looking for a custom ROM for that phone. Searching on the Internet I found the MIUI ROM. That ROM changed my phone, it was another way to know Android with a lot of focus on personalization. And that also changed my life because I got to know other like-minded MIUI fans who shared my interests.
Jorge: I learned about Xiaomi when I was searching the market to change my old phone. I found that people were talking about MIUI and I became interested.
Raul: Through MIUI forum.
What was your first Xiaomi device?
David: My first contact with Xiaomi was through the Mi 1S.
Jorge: The Mi 1S
Raul: Redmi 1
What’s your favorite product?
Alazne: Without a doubt my favorite device is the Mi 5 because of its design and functionality. I also really want to try the Mi MIX 2 in white.
Izadi: I don’t know if I could choose only one because I like so many, but I guess I would have to choose Mi 3. It is the device that I have had for the longest time and I have a lot of love and appreciation for it. From the Mi Ecosystem, I love the Mi LED Desk Lamp. I really love how it looks on my desk and its functions, despite its very simply design. And the device I would LOVE to have is without a doubt the Mi MIX 2. Right now, I have the Mi Note 2 and am very happy with it.
David: I love the smartphones. We have tried many but I really want the Mi MIX 2. It looks very elegant, it has very high quality and many bands. Also, I like the smart home products. They have great quality and come at an excellent price. I also would like to have the Mi Electric Scooter or a Mi TV 4! Oh my God, is really difficult to choose!!!
Jorge: I have to think… I prefer phones that are 5.5- or 5.7 inches so I would have to say the Mi Note 2 or the Mi MIX 2. They are not small but not excessively big and have great performance.
Raul: As a phone, I would love to have the Mi MIX 2 and the Mi 6 because of their specs. But I also would like to try many of Xiaomi’s gadgets!
What three words would you use to describe Xiaomi?
Alazne: MIUI, fans community and of course the characteristic orange color.
Izadi: Different, competitive, community
David: Made for fans, fans and fans. I think the community is the most important for Xiaomi.
Jorge: MIUI and its fans
Raul: MIUI, Fans, RCP (a Spanish term used to show quality-price relation)
A Spanish Mi Fan experiencing our headphones during the party
What do you want to tell Xiaomi?
Alazne: I want to remind Xiaomi not to forget about its origins and its fan sites like MIUI forum, which have given plenty of support and have achieved a lot of progress.
Izadi: Now that Xiaomi is growing so fast, please don’t forget your origins, don’t forget the fans and the community. Keep listening to us and if possible spoil us a little bit from time to time.
David: Never forget your roots, never lose track and become a multinational company that only thinks of money. Never leave your fans and fan sites. Listen to us, to the people that buy your products.
Jorge: Xiaomi, remember we love MIUI.
Raul: Your fans are the most important, keep listening to us.
Our relationship with Mi Fans is something we really treasure. They always encourage, support and inspire us. In our globalization journey, we always bear in mind that to never forget our roots and those who helped get us where we are now.
Hong Jun, a Shanghai native and manager in the automotive industry, is one of Xiaomi’s first Mi Fans, better known among other fans by his MIUI forum name, SmartStar.
SmartStar, holding the phone in the center, with a group of Mi Fans.
SmartStar told us that it was the MIUI platform that nurtured the first Mi Fans and the first Xiaomi phone, Mi 1, turned hundreds of impressed customers into devoted Mi Fans.
Xiaomi gave 100 engineering models of Mi 1 to its earliest Mi Fans. SmartStar had device number 011.
The number of Mi Fans has increased exponentially over the years and now not only encompasses engineers but also tech fanatics, designers and general consumers who are interested in cutting-edge products.
According to Lewis Ling, Community Management Lead at Xiaomi Global, there are four large forums for Mi Fans throughout the year. There are two nationwide activities, a mid-year event called “Mi Pop” and another gathering at the end of the year. China also has a MIUI Club and Campus Club for its fan base.
There are also city-level Mi Fan gatherings, which take place once a month. They are either product review events after major launches before the first sale of new products, or short tours to interesting places nearby, bringing Mi Fans closer together.
“Every true Mi Fan has made his or her own contribution to every single Xiaomi product. Xiaomi only spent one year evolving from the Mi MIX to the Mi MIX 2 and I believe Mi Fans’ feedback and suggestions played a very important role,” said SmartStar.
Mi Fans can also directly communicate with our high-ranking executives. For example, Alee, who co-founded Xiaomi in 2010 and previously led MIUI and now leads the marketing team, used to spend one or two hours every day on the MIUI Forum to chat with Mi Fans about their problems and suggestions.
SmartStar recalled that he met Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s founder and CEO at the company’s first launch event of Mi 1 in August 2011. “I was helping organize a rehearsal with other Mi Fans, and it happened that Lei Jun was taking a break nearby. I sat beside him and we chatted for a long time,” he said.
“He didn’t look like a business man, but more like an engineer. This was my first impression of him. Especially, Mi 1’s price was just half of its counterparts, making me believe that he just purely wanted to make a good phone. He is always as passionate as an enthusiast. I truly admire him,” SmartStar said .
During the product launch, Xiaomi gave SmartStar a tailor-made case portraying his family, including his one-year-old daughter.
Now seven years have passed. “Her childhood was accompanied by the Mi Bunny toys and witnessed by Mi Fans and the first Xiaomi people.”
SmartStar is an expert in a technology company in the automotive industry. He said he learnt a lot from Xiaomi’s business model. For example, motivating users by catering to their real needs, as well as encouraging users to come up with their innovative ideas.
“I think it’s almost impossible for an Internet automotive company to manufacture cars, but it’s plausible for an Internet automotive company to develop in-car apps,” said SmartStar.
His company organizes fan activities from time to time, such as reviews of in-car products and apps, or test-drives of electric cars.
“I hope one day MIUI can be the bridge between Xiaomi and smart car products or apps. MIUI is the reason that attracted the earliest Mi Fans, now it can be the hub for a smarter and better life.”
“You don’t have to pay much for a good life. Technology makes your life easier and happier,” SmartStar said.
1.Which Xiaomi smartphones have you used?
The first engineering model of Mi 1, Mi 1 (final retail), Mi 2’s engineering model and Mi 2 (final retail), Mi 3 and Mi 4 for my family, Mi Note and Mi 5.
2.What Xiaomi products do you use at home?
I have a Mi Smart Home Kit which includes smart sensors for windows and doors. They can automatically turn on the light, and start household appliances remotely.
I also have other Mi Ecosystem products including Mi Robot Vacuum which automatically cleans my home every two days. Once connected to a Xiaomi smartphone, I can monitor my Mi Water Purifier remotely and receive a notification when any of its four purifier filters is expired. I can also remotely turn on or off my Mi Kettle and set water temperature, so that my daughter can always drink warm water.
I even use Xiaomi’s consumer products like toothbrush, towel and sports shoes.
Now I’ve developed a habit that whenever I want to buy any smart device or consumer product, I will check on Mi.com first to see if Xiaomi has this particular product on sale.