All Lucky Numbers Are Local

Every culture has lucky and unlucky numbers. In the US, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the 13th floor in New York City.

According to CNN, someone in China paid $215,000 for a lucky cell phone number. He got a number with the maximum number of 3s, which is a lucky number in China. The number 8 is even luckier, but because Chinese phone numbers begin with “!3”, the grouping of 3s is apparently even more valuable.

Just as 3 and 8 are lucky numbers, 4 is highly unlucky. When pronounced in Cantonese, it sounds similar to the pronunciation for “death.” Two Chinese cities went so far as to ban the number 4 from license places. And you won’t find the 4th or 14th floors on many Chinese buildings.

That leads me to a story about how numbers relate to business strategy and branding. Palm recently released the Tungsten T5 handheld, the successor to the T3. Why no T4?

Well, it used to be that marketers would ask: “Does it play in Peoria?” before launching a new product. Today, they also must ask: “Does it play in Shanghai?”

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