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  • Disney’s new China conundrumFrankie Huang
    Disney’s new China conundrumShanghaiIt is not an exaggeration to say that Disney is a household name in China and synonymous with childhood and sweet nostalgia. Since Mickey Mouse’s first appearance on CCTV in 1986, Disney characters and their stories have been an important part of the collective childhood memory of Chinese people. Iconic characters like Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh made deep lasting impressions, partially because there were few domestic creativations that were as sophisticated and memorable in those early years after the end of the Cultural Revolution. Despite the inherently foreign Americanness Disney characters exuded, they became familiar and beloved friends to Chinese children. Disney came to be China’s undisputed “guardian of childhood” and arguably the most beloved Western brand in the entire country, not just for children, but also young adults like Steve and Dalila, who tend to be highly selective when it comes to brand loyalty. But as tension mounts between the US and China over trade, politics and human rights, it’s increasingly challenging for prominent brands like Disney to stay clear of these issues. In fact, no foreign brand in China can avoid contending with an unyielding authoritarian government more determined than ever to control every narrative on China, as well as consumers whose appetite for foreign goods are increasingly tempered by nationalistic pride. Can the House of Mouse accomplish this without tarnishing its potently wholesome brand image?
  • The lithium problem and Chinese auto in IndiaAshish K. Mishra
    The lithium problem and Chinese auto in IndiaEVs are all the rage in the Indian automotive sector. Only closely rivalled by the most unprecedented slowdown seen in decades, where people aren’t buying enough vehicles, manufacturers are feeling the pinch and dealerships across the country are slowly but quietly going under. But as much as the slowdown is temporary—a harsh, long winter let’s […]
  • Xiaomi’s juggernaut in India hits a rough patchAbhishek Baxi
    Xiaomi’s juggernaut in India hits a rough patchIf you bought a new Xiaomi smartphone in India recently, you are unlikely to have missed a small sticker on the top of the box: “India’s No. 1 smartphone brand”. The company’s fantastic success in the growing Indian smartphone market has made it the top smartphone brand in the country, displacing behemoths like Samsung, while warding off the challenge from other Chinese brands that hit Indian shores around the same time Xiaomi did. In 2019, Xiaomi completed five years in the Indian market. Between anniversary celebrations and taking some pot-shots at the competition, Xiaomi kept pushing the numero uno narrative in every way it could. But if you look past all that glory⁠—and some complacency in 2018⁠—Xiaomi faces more than one conundrum in 2020.
  • Facebook’s vague payments launch and UPI’s global ambitionsPranav S.
    Facebook’s vague payments launch and UPI’s global ambitionsFacebook just announced the launch of a new payments feature a couple of days ago in the US—Facebook Pay.  It’s essentially a rebranding and consolidation of existing in-app payments on Facebook and Instagram (for shopping, donations, etc.) and a peer-to-peer transfer option in Messenger. To begin with, Facebook Pay will let users send and receive […]
  • China is closer to Netflix than you thinkHarveen Ahluwalia
    China is closer to Netflix than you thinkThis is the second edition of Things Change, The Morning Context’s weekly newsletter. Things Change will land in your inbox every Thursday with sharp, original insight on subjects making the news that need to be better understood. It will be written by the best writers and subject experts, both in-house and external. This week, we […]
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