CARROT AND STICK

Xiaomi’s new revenue stream is selling stuffed animals

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has proven itself to be a whiz at creating consumer demand, and that includes stuffed animals that Mao Zedong might love: Co-founder Li Wanqiang expects to sell some 2 million of its bunny mascots this year.

Li, speaking at an event at Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters last night, told participants he was proud of the stuffed animal sales because they prove that customers are loyal to the Xiaomi brand. Earlier this year, the company sold 100,000 bunny mascots in a few hours at a festival for fans of its phones, and Xiaomi is using the merchandise as a way to expand in new markets like Malaysia.

The mascot sports a “ushanka” ear-flap hat commonly worn by Communist rebels, which bears the five-pointed red star that (as Yum Brands discovered last week) is known across the world as a Communist symbol. The company has occasionally shown versions of the bunny without the red star, as Tech In Asia reported last year, but there are no signs that it’s ditching it all together.

So how much revenue is Xiaomi booking from stuffed animal sales? It’s a drop in the ocean compared to the company’s total sales of $5.3 billion in the first half of this year, but it’s nothing to sneeze at: The bunnies sell for approximately $16 each, suggesting sales of at least $32 million this year, and there are also special editions and giant versions that go for up to $60.

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