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- Thedore Roethke

Apple, localisation in China, a lesson to learn from



The technological behemoth which surpassed Samsung for the first time during the 4th quarter of 2014, selling 75 million smartphone globally, managed to topped the list of smartphone seller worldwide. Apple’s total revenue for the 4th quarter of $74,6bn, to which the iPhone category contributed around 70%, is well dependent( as many other brands worldwide ) on the Chinese market.


Supported by positive performance from Greater China in the previous quarter( Including HK, Taiwan and China ) reaching $16.1 billion, 70% growth in compare to the same period last year, Apple’s iPhone’s division, sold for the first time more smartphones in China than within the US, 36% to 24% respectively .


16 stores by 2014 and a goal to more than double its distribution network, having 40 of them by the middle of 2016, Apple doesn't rest on its laurels. Past sales, presence performance and future plans, it is very much evident than Apple is focused on China as its future growth engine.


Apple, which is known for its savvy and “less is more” attitude, stays coherent and concise throughout all the brand touch point, communication included.

To welcome the Western new year,

focused on an emotional story in which the nephew, using Apple’s products to record a “nostalgia song”, takes her grandmother back on time, bringing her backwards to her flourishing youth memories.


Despite the beauty of the video itself, it is what APPLE did with it - localising it solely for the Chinese market, which is worth speaking and looking into more in depth.


Being the most populated nation, and as for the latest quarter also the biggest consumer of apple’s iPhones worldwide, Apple decide to take on its video and release it via a

to welcome the… Chinese New Year, which fell on February 2015.


Given the video in itself didn’t have any dialogue, no language translation was required. The only elements which needed to be localised were the music, people and the environment. 

As to leverage the atmosphere of warmth, happiness, excitement and positiveness which accompanies the time frame just before the new year, APPLE, just as many other brands did and do within their commercial during this period of the year, emphasised feeling of coziness,  connected family, love and nostalgia, powerful values which transcend any cultures and geographical barriers.


Using an Image-focused ADV strategy, in which the product was placed on the on the periphery, to give the stage to the central story revolving around the values of life & nostalgia, APPLE showed us that as it comes to its point of view, Chinese customers, just as their American counterparts, reached to the level in which they are mature enough( at least a certain segment ) to be addressed emotionally and abstractly.


Reviewing Apple’s localisation strategy can teach us some valuable lesson to take forward.For apple or any other brand, the product or service provided is by no doubts the initiator of discussion, the reason for people to be willing to listen to you at the first place. As so, it is indispensable to preserve its quality to fit with the rational needs of the clients. Nevertheless, it is the emotional language, the one which speaks deeper, to the our middle limbic brain that persuades you to buy, one brand or another, engage and advocate with and for it. 

And when you finally decide to go on and speak emotionally, rather than rationally to your customer, be courageous and bold enough to pursue a clear and meaningful statement, because this is the only way you can really make an impact; distinguish yourself from your competitors, create awareness and engagement among your present and future customers. Once you do it and find your position, localisation is not a problem anymore.