Having been in marketing and sales for 30+ years, I get very frustrated watching the poor ways that Chinese quadcopter manufacturers present their products to the English speaking (and perhaps other languages) world.
In the hopes of helping this industry to grow and prosper, I’m going to offer some free advice to the makers and marketers of these great products!
This initial critique will be in three parts – concerning:
1. The poor web sites, instructions and other marketing materials.
2. The unfortunate naming of some products and companies
3. The aesthetic design of the finished products and boxes
All of these combine together to create the wrong impression for this growing industry. I will try to be short and succinct so that this rant does not “drone” on for too long. Chinese representatives may want to have a professional translator present this (english) document to them so that they do not misunderstand either my motives or my criticisms. My motives are simple – purely to improve the appeal and reputation of the industry, and thereby create success for all involved.
With that said, here we go!
1. Poor Web Sites – Most of the Chinese manufacturers have web sites which need a lot of improvement. It seems they spend millions of (US) dollars on employees, equipment, R&D and facilities, but almost nothing on their internet presence. Specifically, the weaknesses in the web sites are:
A. Lack of Speed – Almost without exception, the internet sites of the quadcopter makers are very slow. They are likely hosted in China and on shared servers, resulting in a lag time when loading from North America or Europe. Also, many of the site designs are not optimized for fast page loading. This results in a poor experience for consumers or dealers looking for information on the products.
B. Lack of Clarity – Many of the makers of quadcopters also make many other products in the toy category. It is often difficult to navigate through the large sites and find the products which are important to the new quadcopter market. Even when the products are found, the pages often have a lack of specific information about the products.
C. Poor English – this ties in with (B) above. Web sites which are written in English should be proofread and corrected by native english speakers – and most chinese web sites do not seem to be. Here are some examples of what some call “chinglish”:
“More than 3 brand new products are released in every two month always”
“…the stable performance make our products very interesting items to deliver you lots of fun when playing them.”
“With the concept of “Walking in Era and Towing the Trend”, replying on its strong research & development ability”
There is no excuse for these typos and the poor use of words. Chinese makers should study the web sites of Japanese companies like Epson, Canon and others to see how it should properly be done.
2. Company, Division and Product Naming – Here is the problem in a nutshell – the current generation of quadcopters are sophisticated aerial vehicles chock full of technology. Proper marketing would dictate that these not be called “toys” nor be sold by companies with “toys” in their names! It would be very simple for such companies to rename a small division in such a way that the product seems to have more value. After all, a “toy” is worth much less than an “advanced computerized aerial vehicle” or “unmanned aerial vehicle”, etc.
Also, it is probably time to stop naming particular quadcopters with the word “UFO” in the name – or naming them after insects! Once again, the “toy” meme makes a product lower in the eyes of most western consumers.
3. Aesthetic design of the finished products and boxes – This is also somewhat related to #2 above. Manufacturers in China make an advanced product at an amazing price – high technology bargains! Then, they put shells on which make a grown man wince! NO, I don’t want a piece of technology that looks like a dragon, a bug or a spaceship with a man in it! I want technology where the form follows the function. Do some market research and find out the average age of the NEW buyers of these quadcopters – my guess is that you will find the age to be much older than your guess! Design the products for the consumers who are buying them!
As an example, let me take the Syma XI, a fine bargain quadcopter. It is available with a spaceship, a UFO and a bug cowl. So, what would I suggest? What would be better? I think a clear canopy would be great. Or, one designed for ADULT tastes, using professional artists familiar with western tastes.
To illustrate this point, note this picture of the Walkera infrared Quadcopter…..it looks like a Chinese street festival. I mean no disrespect to Chinese celebrations, which I am certain are very exciting! However, this is not a parade – this is a high technology product with obstacle avoidance and many other advanced systems.
While I could say more, I feel that the above represents the bulk of the problems with the current presentation and marketing of the Chinese products. I hope that I have not insulted any of my dear readers with this advice, however please accept my apologies if this is so. I have written this only in the spirit of achieving success for all involved in this growing and dynamic industry. You can choose to listen – or you can ignore my advice!
Note – one example of a better web site is DJI at:
Notice that the web site speaks to a more mature reader and features instructive videos and other guides.
Note – although I am semi-retired, I would consider doing some limited consulting work if any are interested. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contact the author.
Note – the conversation and advice will continue in this thread over in our forums.