Consumers in India, to reinforce their anti-Chinese sentiments following the grave turn of events at Ladakh’s Galvan valley, have now emerged with a new weapon to fight back the overwhelming consumption of Chinese-origin goods and services – online reviews!
Currently, Indian consumers are actively gunning against every company that is either of Chinese origin or backed by China. These include popular consumer-faced startups such as Paytm, Ola, Zomato, MakeMyTrip, and many more.
Over the last week, there has been a huge surge in the lowest possible ratings being posted on the Google Play Store page of these popular app-based companies. Some consumers have gone the extra mile and uninstall these apps by citing the fact that they are backed by China-based internet companies such as Tencent, Alibaba, and Ctrip.
Even though all these companies are run by Indian entrepreneurs, are based out of India, and mostly employ Indian citizens, the broader consumer sentiment has failed to factor this in because of the brutal killing of 20 Indian soldiers in the border conflict with China.
A similar kind of wrath is being faced by Chinese goods especially in the electronics category, such as smartphones and home appliances as well. Leading players in this space such as Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, OnePlus, and more are now knee-deep into a PR disaster and are trying their best to avert it by not commenting on this situation as of right now.
Because of these developments, many analysts are predicting that non-Chinese brands such as Samsung might finally have an upper hand and gain some extra market share in India against the highly competitive Chinese brands during this time. However, that being said, it is also important to note that Indians do not have a lot many choices when it comes to budget smartphones and other electronic gadgets that are not of Chinese origin. This is why even though the anti-China sentiments are at an all-time high, OnePlus was able to conclude a completely sold-out event for its latest smartphone last Thursday on Amazon India. Thus proving that it is mostly the app-based businesses that are somehow tied with China that are being subjected to consumer rage more than that Chinese goods.
Now an interesting thing that needs to be observed here is the method of showing contempt and protesting against this recent debacle.
App Reviews And Uninstallations: The New Age Weapons Of Consumer Protest?
Indian consumers expressing their anger and disappointment online is nothing new. However, in the past few years, an unignorable pattern of protesting online has been observed to emerge out of the shadows – mass uninstallation and writing negative reviews for apps on App Stores.
With the recent tensions between China and India, a dedicated app was specifically built for those who wish to identify Chinese origin apps and uninstall them known as – ‘Remove China Apps’, thus confirming the aforementioned pattern. Even though it has now been pulled down, many are still on the spree of uninstalling these apps and leaving one-star reviews on their app store pages.
TikTok which is a popular short-video social media platform of Chinese origin was also faced with the same fate before the India-China relationship took an ugly turn, wherein people left thousands of low ratings on its app page and even launched a full-fledged protest against the app by using ‘#BanTikTok’. This was mainly done because of a feud between two content creators which is why Google decided to step in and remove the negative reviews later on.
There have many other campaigns along similar lines previously such as #BanZomatoGold, #BanSnapchat, and so on wherein Indian consumers, to express their sentiments, chose to take such actions. Now, when it comes to the impact these actions make on the brands which get targeted is something that is highly debatable.
A majority portion of these proposed boycotts on a national level are very short-lived and do not impact purchasing behavior in the long term by much. However, that being said, the brands who happen to be on the receiving end of such attacks end up spending a lot of their marketing and PR dollars trying to put these incidents behind.
It now remains to be seen what does the future hold for all the Chinese-backed and Chinese-origin companies and goods in India. We will keep you posted on all future developments. Until then stay tuned.