ViewSonic to raise profile, launch netbooks and sign up more retailers

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: ViewSonic is using the economic downturn as an opportunity to investigate new product lines and categories. In conjunction with this move, country manager William Tse is looking to improve the brand’s profile in the Australian marketplace.

Known mostly for its display products, particularly monitors, projectors and LCD panels, ViewSonic released a PC range in late May and is currently developing a range of netbooks. Retailers currently selling this range include WOW Sight & Sound, Clive Peeters and Harvey Norman. Tse said that this widening of the product portfolio is the main reason behind a new publicity drive.

“In the past we haven’t really been pushing our brand outside of just the traditional IT channel, because we’ve been doing a lot of LCD monitors and things like that, but because we’re looking at more product categories and pushing more into the retail part of the business, we definitely [want to] raise our brand profile,” said Tse.

Tse explained that ViewSonic has an internal sourcing team, and although the company is based in Walnut, California, much of the research and development is done in the United States, Taiwan or China, depending on the product category.

In its home country, ViewSonic is a much more established brand, having been operating since 1987. In Australia, however, Tse is happy for the brand to sit below the big four suppliers.

“In the US, where we started our brand a lot earlier than other places, it’s got a much higher profile.

“It’s not in the league when it comes to Tier 1 brands like Panasonic, Samsung and all those, but we probably want to see ourselves as second tier, just below those guys.”

In terms of retail strategy, Tse is currently balancing his want for expansion with his ability to bring more product into the country. Tse reported that his current agreements with WOW and Clive Peeters have been successful because these retailers are largely confined to their home states. Tse is planning on maintaining this strategy as he seeks more retailers for his products.

“We’d like to partner with a few people who don’t necessarily clash with each other. When you look at what we’re doing with WOW, which is primarily in Queensland, and then if you look at what we do with Clive Peeters, which is primarily in Victoria, [we’re] helping the retailers who we work with so they don’t end up fighting amongst themselves.”

Finally, we asked Tse the big question: is ViewSonic making money?

“Last year when it hit, I think everyone was taken by surprise a little bit; so I would say, we did find it difficult last year.

“But all I can say it has been great for us: we have been not just been doing well in our current product lines, but we’re using this time to invest in the development and launching of all the new product categories as well, so we see it as an opportunity if anything; that this is a good time for us to do this, to expand our product exposure.”

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