Hisense wants to be a household name
Chinese smart TV and home appliance maker Hisense has been gradually finding a market niche and making a household name for itself in Canada.
Like many of its fellow global Chinese companies doing business in North America, Hisense Canada, an Ontario-based subsidiary of Hisense International, which is headquartered in Qingdao, China, sees opportunities and high prospects in a market formerly unfamiliar with its brand.
Within a year of establishing a presence in Canada, Hisense has partnered with several retailers, including furniture chains Leons, The Brick and EasyHome, and regional electronics speciality retailers Visions, 2001 Audio Video and Centre Hi Fi.
All of these stores have sales people on the floor who help tell the story of Hisense, whose strengths include technology, design and quality comparable to competitors, according to Hisense Canada Managing Director Jane Lu.
Hisense Canada’s flagship product — the smart TV — can be found in some 900 retail stores across the country, positioned alongside more established brand names.
Lu said Hisense Canada’s strategy is to gradually introduce a full range of electronics and appliances into the market — televisions, refrigerators, air- conditioners, dehumidifiers, beverage coolers and freezers.
“We are seeing the same trend in Canada that we saw in the US. We are gaining more brand awareness, more market share and more of a welcoming from consumers and retailers,” said Lu.
Calling this year Hisense Canada’s initial stage, Lu predicts a significant product penetration of the Canadian market by 2016 putting its brand among the top five.
“Our price is good and but we’re not just competing on price,” she said. “The business is based on lots of things — right timing, right business partners, right strategy, right product, right marketing, right team.”
On the products side, many Hisense products are manufactured in China, and they offer comparable quality and designs. Canadian retailers welcome new brands that result in higher profit margins and local consumers like Hisense’s high quality and affordable prices, according to Lu.
Hisense has several research and development centres not only in China, but in the US and Canada as well, and these centres have the potential to bring innovative new technology to Hisense products, she said.
“On the issue of quality, we have already done OEM (original equipment manufacturing) business for other brands. We have already gathered much experience in quality control,” she said.
Even though Canada is a small market, Lu explained, it gets a lot of attention because of its stability and a consumption environment that is conducive to brand positioning.
Hisense Canada also focuses on prompt logistical support to its retailers. “We have inventory here and when customers want to order, we ship, there’s no need to wait two months to get the product,” she said.
The company also tracks consumer interest. “We monitor sales through numbers, not just how many we sell to retailers, but we want to know how many have been sold to consumers and after looking at numbers, we can decide if sales are good,” she said. “We also monitor service data closely. Complaints or returns from consumers are rare. That means our product quality is fine.”
Lu said there is a good opportunity to carve out an even bigger market share. With products exported to more than 130 countries and regions, Hisense’s global performance last year hovered around US $12.8 billion from TV and home appliances.
With 70,000 employees worldwide, Hisense has production bases in South Africa, Algeria and Egypt and sales offices in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Hisense products are exported to more than 130 countries and regions.
“We want to be a brand name, not just manufacturer,” Lu said.
One of the company’s newest models is the 58-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV priced at $2,699 and displayed alongside well-established brands such as Sony and Samsung.
Hisense will unveil its most revolutionary smart TV model at the upcoming International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January. Contact writer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Lu shows Hisense’s newest models 58-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV at 2001 Audio Video in Toronto.