Welcome to Influencers, our annual series that speaks with the heads of retailers, suppliers and industry bodies to find out what is happening in appliances and electronics and how different companies are shaping its future.

Andre Iannuzzi is the national marketing manager at Hisense. The Chinese company is embarking on an adventurous year, with new product categories rolling out and new retailers signing on. Let’s find out what’s happening!

Discounting is a problem: Andre Iannuzzi.
Discounting is a threat: Andre Iannuzzi.

How has the first half of 2014 been for your business?

It’s been a very successful year on multiple fronts. It was the first year we were full sponsors of the Australian Open (tennis) so we really started with a bang. At the start of the year, when traditionally consumer electronics sales are slowing down, for us it was a really good opportunity to increase our brand awareness in a period when it is traditionally slow. Associating ourselves with the Australian Open and integrating our products in that event in Melbourne has been an opportunity to educate the consumer market on Ultra High Definition with a direct conversation with the end user.

We are demonstrating our product directly to the consumer and increasing that conversation on Hisense and what we are bringing to the table.

Second to this was being the official television supplier to the 2014 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in March, so there was a lot of activity for us in the first quarter.

On the sales front, when we started launching new products — our 2014 range — our entry level models started coming into the market in March, so for us there was no stop from the Australian Open to launching new products.

It’s been very fast paced and we’ve had a lot of wins, expanding our retail channel distribution, so now you’ll find Hisense televisions nationally in Harvey Norman, where we weren’t before, and we’ve now in Bing Lee in New South Wales as well. These are strong partnerships and associations and it’s a continual path to growth in terms of retail channel outlets, growing the actual brand awareness and coming up with completely unique product propositions to consumers.

It’s a bit of a pity that the overall TV market is soft but the way we see it is that because of the way we are going to market, providing better features and better pricing, it seems to really hit a sweet spot when the market slows down and consumers look for better value, so we’re gaining some market share.

What are you predictions for the second half of the year?

There is strong growth in the Ultra HD category and we continue to feel that that is going to grow very quickly. Our new Ultra HD range will be in market this month and we will continue to be a keen player in this category.

Our prediction is that the category is going to grow very strongly and it is an interesting landscape, considering that last year, Ultra HD was a ‘temporary technology’ because OLED was going to be the 2014 technology, but that has slowed to a trickle, while major brands are now pushing hard on Ultra HD. We’re glad to say that we were pushing hard on Ultra HD from the start.

What opportunities do you see for the electrical retailing industry?

The real opportunity is for an immersive retail experience so that as consumers go into stores, being able to make sure that they truly understand these new technologies and to have a better experience in store.

Store-in-store concepts, for example, give consumers the chance to demo the product and have a hands-on experience: that’s really important.

This isn’t just important for us, but for the electrical retailing industry as a whole: providing better experiences in store for consumers because a lot of the growth in the higher price sectors, consumers are continuing to go to stores before making that large investment.

What threats are currently present in the industry?

Discounting is always a threat in our industry and when the market slows down, discounting continues to be an issue.

What is your favourite product of 2014 so far?

It’s definitely our new Vision Smart TVs powered by Android. It’s a huge focus for us.