DJI drones - Far eastern premium

DJI drones on the rise

Tim Takeoff
23.07.2018
3 pictures
5 minutes

Cheap producers are ten a penny in every sector – automotive, smartphones and now with drones too. Premium – only the best can do that.

In many areas of life, people with a certain leaning towards technology generally tend to be abreast of the latest innovations and brands. Their knowledge often ranges from a casual chat in the office to a proper “in-depth” bar discussion. This is the case with drones as well. We have already reported on the use of drones in everyday life.

But, be honest! Who’s never had the Apple versus Samsung or Audi versus BMW debate, just two of a whole host of apples versus oranges heated discussions? Generally the individual’s strong views are based on his or her own personal experience.

Far Eastern premium – DJI drones

The film and photographic sector is competing almost just as actively for customers in this era of Facebook, YouTube, Vlogs, Instagram etc. And if you’re looking for premium products in this sector, you simply cannot overlook brands like “GoPro” and “DJI” … DJI? DJI drones? Never heard of it? Sounds Chinese, is Chinese!

DJI was set up in 2006 by a Chinese man called Frank Wang. It all started with the development of a smart flight computer for model aircraft. DJI first started selling their products outside China in 2012, which provided the financial cornerstone for the development of their first high-performance drones for the general market: the DJI Phantom.

Sales doubled every year, and a whole series of developments of this model ensued up to the Phantom 4, the now very well-known Mavic range and the mini-holiday drone designed for everyone, the “Spark”.

DJI is now also developing further equipment in addition to their core business of consumer drones: stabilisation systems, “gimbals” and fiendishly expensive drones for professional use, such as the Inspire range.

Drones are all the rage

General demand for drones on the market has risen from around 3 million in 2014 to over 10 million unmanned copters in 2017. The trend? Couldn’t be better – drones are seriously all the rage! DJI products are now even being sold in Apple stores.

With his company employing over 7000 people and his private share of 45 percent, Frank Wang is clearly “bang on target”. Market analysts predict a two-thirds global share of the drone business. How does DJI manage to retain this lead?

In-house

First and foremost, it’s worth knowing that DJI keeps most of their departments in-house: Research, Development, Production and Sales are not outsourced. To a large extent, they are following the example set by Apple. A totally clear design line in terms of Marketing is combined with sophisticated high-end products that everyone can use, thanks to simple software. This leads to hype about the brand itself coupled with a quite unique “must-have” vibe.

The company then acquired camera and lens companies (including the renowned Swedish camera manufacturer Hasselblad in 2017) and integrated them into their own products. DJI offers customers an end-to-end premium experience when they purchase the product and with returns in the event of a problem. The introduction of the DJI Care Refresh warranty service means that now nothing stands in the way of an untrained user becoming a “drone pilot”. The service insures drones even against crashes and damage – charging minimum premiums and guaranteeing replacements. The sophisticated safety systems in the drones also play a key role in this.

Many forms of progress

DJI has always systematically responded to the market and kept a close eye on direct competitors, like GoPro or Yuneec. Over time, customers even started waiting for DJI to launch their own version of competitors’ ideas. Replicas and improvements of existing ideas have essentially long been regarded as ‘good form’ in the Far East. DJI has evolved to become a ‘first’ in this respect. The company quietly waits for competitors to launch their innovations, only for DJI to subsequently integrate a “killer feature” into their own, already good, overall concept. Brazen or clever – you can always argue that point with innovations. However, for consumers, this means a host of new and existing products, appearing at shorter and shorter intervals.

The price is what matters

DJI has always analysed their customers at length when it comes to their pricing. Most buyers of drones are aged between 25 and 35 – so right in the prime of their lives. DJI takes advantage of this, as most customers admit that they would be happy to pay between 1000 dollars and 2000 dollars for high-quality products. And in the 500 to 1000 dollars drone market, DJI currently has a market share of over 90 percent compared to the competition.

The brand is seriously replicating the Apple model in this respect too, an approach that incentivises customers to buy based on exclusivity alone. In recent years, there appears to have been a shift in people’s mentality. If you are spending money on something, then it’s better to pay a little more to end up with a premium product. The annoyance at ultimately missing out on a particular feature can be avoided in this way.

When all this is taken together, DJI has clearly succeeded in controlling the drone sector in terms of price and innovation through clever marketing strategies and product developments. They have been able to successfully outdo other competitors, and start-ups struggle to establish themselves when faced with this giant. This trend could continue unabated with the forthcoming new products.

Pictures © DJI

by Tim Takeoff

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