Huawei’s consumer business continues growing through the pandemic, partly through continued investment and partly through a reframed way of working with agency partners.

At this stage of the pandemic, truly international companies like the China-headquartered Huawei are finding an equilibrium. (For more, read WARC’s report: Huawei invests through the pandemic)

Experiences of one market inform the others and have delivered a rare practical advantage to the company, whose proximity to the Chinese state has drawn it into the crosshairs of US politics. For its consumer business, however, the way to stay above the fray is to focus on the technology.

The macro-marketing story that has run through COVID has surrounded budget cuts, often on a vast scale – WARC Data forecasts a global reduction in advertising spend of around 8.1% in 2020.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, it is possible to grow a brand amid the uncertainty of a pandemic, mostly by setting it up for recovery by capitalising on a reduction in other brands’ spend. Huawei has pursued a similar strategy.

“We haven’t cut any of our investments,” Andrew Garrihy, global chief brand officer at Huawei’s consumer division reported on a webinar with Oystercatchers. “I think probably the most surprising thing is we’re actually not only maintaining but increasing our investment. However, the shape of that investment, where we invest, has changed quite dramatically.”

In July, partly highlighting the company’s unintentionally political character, it made a loud commitment to the UK high street with the opening of three new stores in the country. Notable in the announcement was the proposed creation of more than 100 new jobs.

But it points to what the company sees as a continued relevance of the physical touchpoint for a technology company. Huawei isn’t alone in making this bet: think of Apple’s flagship stores on Regent Street in London and New York’s Fifth Avenue; Samsung’s sail-like structure atop Coal Drop Yard near Kings Cross.

If you’re selling an ecosystem, it makes sense that people would want to inhabit it, even briefly, before investing.

Sourced from WARC, Huawei