Earlier this week, Apple launched new red handsets of the preexisting iPhone 7 and 7 plus models. The release honours Apple’s long standing partnership with Red, a charity established by U2 frontman Bono to fight the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
Within most of Apple’s digital marketing, the charity and its proceeds aim is mentioned before purchase.
Layout of most Apple e-commerce websites. Source: Daily Mail 2017
However on Apple’s Chinese website, there is no mention of Red whatsoever.
Apple’s Chinese e-commerce website. Source: Daily Mail 2017
The products online branding is also different on the Chinese website.
Globally, including Taiwan, the device is marketed as “(product)^RED.”
The Chinese website’s messaging however, roughly translates to- ‘is more red’.
A comparison of most Apple online branding (left) with Chinese translated online branding (right). Source: BBC 2017
Apple has failed to comment on why Red or any explanation of the charity was absent from the Chinese e-commerce page. So why then is the digital marketing for one country different to the rest?
Some speculate it has purposely been done to win over Chinese consumers in a time of market struggle. Sales have declined in the Chinese market because the Government is trying to push the population onto domestic telco brands like Oppo. They were also to blame for the shut down of the iTunes and iBooks app stores for Chinese consumers. Red is also a popular patriotic colour often used by the Government, and for various cultural celebrations- symbolising good fortune and joy.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook on one of his many visits to China last year.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, 2017
Others claim it’s a demonstration of how Chinese politics impede digital marketing efforts. Despite HIV/AIDS cases increasing by 400% in China (source), the Government deny it being a wide spread issue. It is also socially acceptable to discriminate against HIV/AIDS sufferers.
Whatever the reasoning, Apple demonstrates that digital marketing efforts can never be standardized across the world, despite the power of online reach. Messaging must often be altered to deliver objectives.
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