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When Customers Become Fans by Jielin Dong, Yanli Zhang

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When Customers Become Fans

The Chinese technology company Xiaomi cultivates a close connection with its customers through a product development process that invites user participation — as well as through social media and fan clubs.

In less than six years, Beijing-based Xiaomi Inc. has become one of the world’s leading smartphone makers. One key factor is that the company offers its phones to customers in China at lower prices than competitors like Apple Inc. — and sells mainly via e-commerce to keep costs low.

But Xiaomi has done more than just keep costs down; it has also cultivated user pride through user-centered and open innovation, harnessing the energies of enthusiastic customers known as “Mi Fans.” ...

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