In the category "Most asked questions": Number 1. , unsurprisingly, given the enormous impact on China's society, was: What is melamine? Interestingly also on number 8 another question had also to do with substandard, counterfeit products: What is Shan Zhai Ji?
Ok, everything that shows up in a Google top ten is a trend. But what does this trend mean? So what means Shan Zhai Ji 山寨机? This is literally: Mountain Bandit Machine, and is a a knickname for cell/mobile phones with copied design and functions of branded cell/mobile phones offered for a much lower price, without permission of the brand owners.
According to Candy Yang and Lisa Li of China Youthology, which is "catching the pulse of Chinese youth", Shan Zhai Ji has developed into a subculture which can be defined as:
- Enjoying technology for a low price;
- Satisfaction with the level of technology and innovation of small bandit factories, which meets Chinese youth need to experience new technology and new functions and some humour;
- Pride for unpretentious, low quality low price products.
- Shan Zhai Ji might look vulgar and ‘out-dated’, but are considered cool and interesting by some youth.
Ms Yang and Ms Li did an informal survey about who is buying these Shan Zhai Ji products. The outcome is: creative youth, technology geeks and guys. In marketing terms the important group of early adopters. In other words: the opposite of brand chasing as the title of the article rightly put is, read the China Youthology article here. Conclusion: counterfeit trademarks and pirated copyright in China is not only caused by supply but also by demand. Brand holders need to work on both sides.
An example of a Shan Zhai Ji, you can see below a video of the iOrange, oops iOrgane. It has some extra functions compared to those of the iPhone.