Young Xiaomi fans were referred to as diaosi, roughly translated into losers in English, by a Xiaomi head at a forum in Beijing. The company later issued a statement apologizing for her comments and said she had resigned, after her remarks sparked controversies and angers among Xiaomi’s young users.
Mei Wang, vice president of Qinghe University of Xiaomi group, said at a human resource management forum in Beijing that Xiaomi believed whoever the diaosi favor wins, whoever young people favor wins, linking the derogatory concept of diaosi to young people at large.
As the target consumer of Xiaomi smartphones, young Xiaomi users in China were not happy about being referred to as losers. After Wang’s comments stirred up controversies, the company issued a statement, saying her words do not represent the company’s attitude and had not been approved by the company.
“Fans and users are Xiaomi’s most appreciated friends,” the statement reads. “Xiaomi will continue strengthening the company’s internal management and upholding users’ rights and the brand’s honor. We thank all the fans and users’ help and support.”
The term diaosi was popular around six years ago in China, and was originally meant as an insult for a poor, unappealing person without ambitions or bright future prospects. But the term went viral online and Chinese youth began to embrace it as a self-deprecating joke that mitigated everyday struggles and hardships.
The diaosi were deemed as the mainstream consumers in China, and also hinted at a trend that China’s underdogs just could become the country’s mainstream.
At the beginning of Xiaomi’s development, the company pinpointed its market niche focusing on those on a tight budget but equally in need of a smartphone. The company jumped on the trend and used the phrase “whoever the diaosi favor wins” at the time, when the popular term was acceptable and stripped out its literal negative connotation.
But as the company grew and added more higher-end products into its portfolio, including its premium smartphone, the Mi 10T Pro, premium television Mi TV and other lifestyle products, it changed its strategy and started branding itself to a broader consumer base.
Wang’s comments can be seen as a setback to the company’s current branding strategy that also challenged its existing users and fans.
Xiaomi announced its financial report for Q3 2020 earlier this week, showing a record high quarterly revenue of 72.2 billion yuan ($10.98 billion) and a 47.6 billion yuan ($7.24 billion) quarterly revenue in the smartphone sector, representing a 47.5% year-over-year increase.
Xiaomi’s inexpensive smartphone line Redmi accounted for three of the world’s top 10 best-selling smartphones in the third quarter of 2020, according to the company’s financial report.