Redmi: FOMO genius

Majority of Cellphones purchases worldwide are triggered by two basic events: First is the celebration/festival/bonus/windfall which is the occasion for an indulgence into a luxury item. Second, is the need based emergency purchase due to your old device going Kaput or stolen. Unfortunately both of the purchase decisions require instant gratification which cannot be solved by precarious flash sales. So who is buying them and why? How is that Xiaomi (北京小米科技有限责任公司) a company that does not have any brand recall, advertising, store/physical presence or offer any warranties able to do $10mn worth of business in 4 seconds ever week? (100,000 phones @INR 6,000/- sold in 4 seconds every 2pm on Tuesday on Flipkart)

Like any Chinese product, specs wise it is at a 20-30% discount to similarly priced models but what is the nudge that is prompting a million Indians to risk their money without touching/feeling/testing the product? Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary had once said “passengers will crawl bullock-naked over broken glass to grab the cheapest tickets”, but is cost the only driving factor for this mad rush?

6,000/- is a considerable sum in India and the online reviews (at the only authorized seller website) is quite pessimistic. Almost everybody is complaining of the battery life issue and heating problem. Major problem in India where there are not many avenues to charge the cellphone and mobile is the exclusive means of employment and socializing for many Indian urban middle class. So a dead/discharged phone = loss of pay. A huge risk!

It is the classic case of FOMO (Fear of missing out), the entire purchase is converted into a game and 2pm every Tuesday people log on their screens in the hope/anticipation of getting lucky. It’s a strange buyer behavior I see where seemingly rational people are behaving impulsively. In such frenzy sales, the need for the purchase only arises AFTER the sale / event is announced.

I have known people who can spend the entire weekend indoors (watching youtube or wasting time). However the second you tell them that you have locked them in, they will have the urge of taking a stroll outdoors every 5-10 minutes. Similarly by denying people this phone for 6 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 56 seconds (and no guarantees even after that) the entire purchase decisions is converted into a binary groups of haves and have-nots.

Several people log on to the website just to get the thrill, some have bought multiple devices (for the entire family), some even call up friends and family to offer them the phones. Some even go to olx/quickr to resell and make some quick bucks. Essentially the flash sales has converted the consumers into not only adherent fans, but also (unpaid) sales agent, stockiest and retailers.

In the 80s the scooter were lopsided design (the engine/weight was not symmetrically distributed) as a result they were prone to accidents when braked hard. Even then my father loved his Bajaj Scooter…. Why he waited 5 years (and paid a bribe) to get one. Several Redmi fans simply yap endlessly about the difficult purchase process and several attempts they had to patiently make. The biggest call for fame for this phone is that it allows ordinary folks live the life of the trigger happy gun-slingers of the wild-west. They have a cute little trophy to prove that they are the fastest clicker amongst their peers.

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