Anker is a typical Chinese brand.
Anker hardly impresses you in your life: there is no sign of it in the big items which may spend you sometime to pick, but you always see the name when you buy some small items like charging cable. A Chinese brand that mainly sells digital peripheral products such as mobile power supplies and data cables has entered your life in this way.
The company doesn’t have a long history. Anker mobile power went on sale at Amazon in 2012, which is less than a year after it was founded. When it was founded in 2011, Anker’s company was called Haiyi e-commerce.
Two years later, Anker has become a brand known to almost everyone in the field of power bank, although many people may not realize that it is actually a Chinese company. Subsequently, in 2016, Haiyi e-commerce launched China’s new third board, and in 2018, it changed its name to “Anker Innovation”.
Yang Meng, the founder of Anker, graduated from Peking University and received a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked as a senior software engineer at Google. The time he worked in the United States gave him the motivation to start a business.
When he was repairing his computer in the United States, he found that there was a lack of cheap and high-quality laptop batteries on the market. So he began to help his wife sell notebook batteries from China in the United States and created a new product type, laptopmate. As sales grew, Yang Meng left Google in 2011 and founded Anker.
Today, Anker has a wide variety of products, such as eufy-branded floor-sweeping robots, voice control assistants, smart scales and smart light bulbs, Nebula-branded home cinemas and projectors, Roav-branded driving recorders, in-car voice assistants, Soundcore-branded speakers and sports headphones. All came from the same company. At the beginning, it helped Anker to open the international market, and now it is also an important product of Anker, but it still uses the brand Anker.
No matter how you judge it, Anker has caught up with the good era of smartphones. It emerged at a time when consumers were most in need of cheap and easy-to-use data cables and power banks. Behind Anker is the strong manufacturing base of Shenzhen, China, as well as the era of rapid development of China’s entire foreign trade industry.
Some practitioners commented that China’s manufacturing industry has a complete industrial chain and health infrastructure, although there is still a lack of independent R & D and design capabilities, but with excellent basic functions and reasonable prices, it is easy for China’s industrial products to make a success in the world. Some designers on Kickstarter have said that fresh products are designed by foreigners, but they have to be made in China.
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Because of this, today, it is still difficult for China to impress consumers in developed countries in the most fashionable and popular field of digital products, but in terms of white goods, black appliances, small appliances and digital peripherals, Chinese brands have increasingly entered the vision of North American consumers. Different from Lenovo, Electrolux, Haier, TCL and other large brands, Anker is not a large brand in China like the former, it has almost become a famous foreign trade enterprise in China in overseas markets.
In overseas markets, Anker is synonymous with “power bank” to some extent, but in its hometown of China, Anker is just one of many players in the mobile power market. Mijia, Yoobao, PISEN and Romoss are all strong competitors to Anker. The quality of these power banks is not poor, but only Anker has been successful overseas.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Anker and these brands is their R & D and production models. Among a large number of Chinese companies that value manufacturing and relatively despise research and development, Anker has found a different way to outsource the production of its own products to other companies-in fact, it takes full advantage of China’s strong manufacturing base. Yang Meng, founder of Anker, said that R & D staff account for more than 60% of Anker’s team, and they develop hundreds of new products every year.
Anker believes that a key significance of R & D is to match the preferences of users in different markets. In Anker’s sales statistics, black products are more popular among North American users, while in China, the general perception is white, and the vast majority of digital peripheral products given with mobile phones and other digital terminals are white. If you are not aware of these differences, it will be difficult for the product to sell. After recognizing the differences, in order to design new products quickly and in a variety of ways, R & D efforts must be improved.
Yang Meng believes that many factories with strong manufacturing capacity in China are still unable to make their own brands, and are still working for international famous brands because their R & D investment is still relatively low. In contrast, a large number of market research, data analysis, rapid research and development and rapid iteration have become the secret of Anker’s “blossom inside China and fragrance around the world”. Anker has always said that it attaches great importance to comments left by consumers, such as consumers on Amazon.
In order to meet the needs of various consumers in a variety of scenarios, Anker is rapidly expanding its product range. For the same product, they develop different styles for different scenarios, such as homes, offices, and cars, with different scenarios and needs, and Anker doesn’t mind developing a new product for a secondary requirement, but thinks that’s why they’re popular.
To develop a variety of goods, in addition to meeting the different needs of consumers, there is also strategic significance. Yang Meng believes that enterprises with a small range of products are vulnerable to huge blows after changes in the market atmosphere. Some well-known digital products companies have been exposed to this risk, and Anker would rather spend more cost to launch different products, but also hopes to avoid such risks.
After all, compared with other Chinese companies in the local market, Anker is not so easy to grasp the changes in the foreign trade market.
Fortunately, North American users are very enthusiastic about digital products. Compared with Chinese consumers who pay more attention to practicality and do not like to taste fresh, North American consumers are not only willing and able to buy a wide variety of digital products, but also more enthusiastic to leave detailed comments on e-commerce platforms. Such a market environment makes Anker’s R & D strategy not very radical. In China, enterprises generally need to spend more energy to polish the core products and improve their functions and performance-to-price ratio.
In a variety of sense, Anker products in North America, “performance-to-price ratio” is not very outstanding. It has been commented that the pricing of Anker products is actually on the high side compared with other brands of the same type. However, some consumers think that the quality of Anker products is good, and there are often surprises in function, so it is worth a higher price. In fact, if we look at the reviews of Anker products on Amazon, we will find that many Anker products can get more than four stars of praise.
It is not easy for Anker to guarantee the quality of its products. As mentioned above, Anker focuses on research and development, while production is often done by other factories. In order to ensure the quality of contract manufacturing, Anker has to design more stringent product testing standards. Fortunately, this road has worked so far. Anker also believes that quality is one of the advantages of its products, calling its power banks “faster to charge and longer to live”.
Anker was the first to take advantage of the world’s largest Internet platforms, such as Amazon’s e-commerce, Google’s search engine, and Facebook’s social network, which also contributed to Anker’s rapid growth. Unlike many Chinese foreign trade brands, Anker doesn’t even pay special attention to its own independent website, which is actually one of the important channels for online sales in North America.
As a result, Anker discovered a few years ago that it was too dependent on large e-commerce platforms and began to expand its sales channels offline. Instead of selling directly to consumers at Amazon, Anker chooses to wholesale its products to distributors, such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, as well as operators such as KDDI and Softbank. This strategy has been relatively successful, with Anker accounting for about 30 per cent of offline sales as of 2018.
In China, Anker is more often regarded as the learning object of foreign trade enterprises. For Chinese consumers, the company is not very well-known. Perhaps the emphasis on technology and fashion in North America has helped the company become famous overseas.
In today’s China, the media specializing in digital products are less popular than they were a few years ago, and most technology media are turning into business review media, or looking for more diverse coverage. But in North America, technology has always been a popular topic.
Perhaps, with the increase in the spending power, Chinese consumers can also accept a wide variety of new products that are not cost-effective. But before that, the gap between the Chinese and American markets, at least in the area of digital products, was quite large.