Latest Apple store shows corporation's core strategy
Updated: 2012-10-22 10:11
By Eric Jou (China Daily)
Consumers besiege Asia's largest Apple store, which opened on Beijing's Wangfujing shopping street. Zhu Xingxin/China Daily
About 1,000 people were waiting in snaking lines in front of the APM mall in Beijing's Wangfujing pedestrian street, despite the cold, on Saturday morning.
They weren't waiting for a movie, a play or the release of a new gadget but, rather, for a new Apple store's opening.
Apple's newest retail store on the famous shopping street's northern end joins the ranks of 390 others globally.
Wangfujing's three-story 4,000-square-meter store is Asia's largest. It's also Apple's eighth in China - there are two others in Beijing, three in Shanghai and two in Hong Kong.
About 1,000 people gathered outside the Apple store before 9 am Saturday. The store's nearly 300 blue T-shirt-clad staffers worked the crowd into a frenzy, running outside to high-five the eager consumers standing in the cold.
When the clock struck 9, the doors were thrown open, and the crowd dashed in as employees chanted "Apple! Wangfujing!"
Self-described Apple fanatic Han Jinhei, who had waited with his girlfriend since 7 am, says he was very happy to witness the opening.
"I came today because this is an event," Han says.
"This is the world's second largest Apple store and the biggest in Asia. Of course I'm going to come out to participate in the revelry!"
Han, who closely follows everything Apple, says the addition of a Wangfujing store only shows Apple's dedication to China. He believes there's more to the Wangfujing store's opening than the establishment of another retail outlet on a busy shopping street.
Fans speculate on the highly secretive tech giant's movements - no matter how minute.
Josh Ong, an Apple fan and the China and gadgets editor of Thenextweb.com, believes the location is strategic.
He says it's the famous shopping street's "keystone".
"Just about anything Apple does can be analyzed in terms of: Does the company view it as furthering its image?" Ong says.
"To that end, their retail locations are very carefully chosen to fit in the neighborhoods and the malls that best line up with the consumers they want to target."
Ong says the other Beijing stores' locations demonstrate this.
The Sanlitun Apple store, the first in Beijing, opened in the Sanlitun Village shopping center in 2008. Ong believes Sanlitun might have been chosen because the area is an expat hangout, and the demographic was a major slice of Apple's early fans in China.
The 2010 addition of the Xidan store showed a clear shift toward targeting domestic consumers. The Wangfujing store is a continuation of that, Ong believes.
Wangfujing's shoppers are mostly tourists from home and abroad, so this location elevates Apple's image nationwide and worldwide.
Gary Allen, founder of the Apple retail store-tracking website Ifoapplestore.com, says: "When considering locations for all its international stores, Apple looks for locations where people are already shopping and also where tourists from other cities are visiting. They want their retail stores to be destinations for local residents but also to attract people from other countries where there are no Apple stores."
Both Allen and Ong point out that China is an important market for the company. China's Apple stores are much larger and more spectacular than the US'.
Ong, who was at the opening, believes the Wangfujing store is the pinnacle of Apple's Asian focus.
"The height of Apple's investment so far can be culminated in the Wangfujing store as evidenced by the triple-(floor) staircase - the first in Asia - the square footage and the location of Wangfujing."