While SHEIN has its origins in China it is one of the biggest shopping apps in the United States, SHAREit has been banned in India despite being massively popular elsewhere, and Likee is chasing TikTok — but desperate to avoid a similar fate.
China’s app makers are having to be agile in a world where key markets have turned hostile to their country’s tech.
They are either going under the radar in territories where the war over privacy, security and geopolitics rages — or are moving to friendlier markets to win millions of downloads.
Experts say that could signal an unstoppable rise for China’s smart and responsive tech, depending on the long-term damage that security and diplomatic squabbles may bring to the Made in China brand.
For now, the strategies of Chinese-owned platforms — quick reflexes to their customer base and aggressive social media marketing — are winning fans in unexpected places.
Fast-fashion online retailer SHEIN has deployed a legion of influencers and celebrities in the US, including singers Rita Ora and Katy Perry, to soar up the app store rankings.
The platform also advertised a Perry-curated range of affordable tees, dresses and accessories to coincide with her album launch this year.
The company now boasts one of the top five free shopping apps on Apple’s app store in the US, Australia and France, according to US-based research agency Sensor Tower.
“Many of their global users will actually be unaware that they are dealing with a Chinese company,” Hong Kong-based retail analyst Philip Wiggenraad said of such apps.
In a February post on WeChat to recruit suppliers, SHEIN said it had operations spanning more than 200 countries, with 2019 sales exceeding 20 billion yuan ($2.96 billion).
– Catch me if you can –
Even TikTok, battered by an ownership dispute