Meet TCL, Haier and Changhong – Chinese home brands all looking to make ructions in the global TV market, threatening the domination by South Korean TV giants LG and Samsung, as well as Japan’s Sony and Sharp.
Shenzhen-based TCL (The Creative Life) are already making headway in the Australian market since its launch in 2005 with its Internet ready TVs, 3D display technology and ultra slim bezel sets, unleashed here in January.
The brand is also big news in Philippines, Thailand and South East Asia, and hopes to grow its Aus market share from around 3.5-4% to around 10% in the future, according to Paul Widdis TCL’s General Manager, Australia, who says it is “doing very well”, selling in Retrovision, Bing Lee and Good Guys.
However, the brand is “not dealing in all channels” Widdis admitted and hinted it is currently working to get into some other well known Aussie retailers, which will advance its bid to gain marketshare over current leaders in Oz, LG and Samsung.
TCL Corp. is ranked at the No. 1 TV brand in its native China, (Hisense is No.2) believes Research & Development is its core strength and recently developed the world’s largest 110″ 4K Full HD 3D LCD screen, debuted in Beijing last week.
TCL’s annual global sales of flat-panel TVs also recently broke the 10 million unit mark, making it the first-ever Chinese flat panel maker to do so and has forecast a whopping 230% jump in profits for full year 2011 to RMB 1.8 billion.
But its not just the Aussie market the TV giant is eyeing up – TCL launched in the US last year and Europe 18 months ago and has manufacturing presence in Mexico and Poland, meaning it is no longer a China-centric corp.
With its next gen sets it has bolstered a reputation as a market leader rather than chasing market trends as it was previously, says Widdis.
But why would a consumer buy Chinese sets like TCL or Hisense over a well known brand like LG or Samsung?
TCL offer value for money sets with the latest technology, good after sale support and backs it up with a 3 year warranty, Widdis insists.
The ultra slim bezels HD LCD E5300 series – one of the thinnest TVs on the market – released here in January are enjoying “really good sales”, says Waddis, with Aussie consumers enthused with the technology rather than worried about brands.
A 32″ TCL HD LCD starts at $449 for a 32″, while a 46″ sells for a very competitive $899.
Qingdao-ased Hisense is another major Chinese player now in Oz and already has presence in many of the main retailers including JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, launched in 2009.
The maker has sought to undercut major players in Australia selling full HD TV panels starting at ($299) for a 19″ set, while a 26″ set sells for around $549. And it is expanding its Australia range and is set to announce new models in the coming weeks, says Andre Iannuzzi, Hisense Australia, Marketing Manager.
|It launched Internet TV in 2009 and got a nod from Canstar Blue -for ‘Most Satisfied Customer Award’ in the best Value For Money in the LCD TV category in 2010.
In general Chinese made TVs are very competitive on price, and will sell for equal or under what the Korean equivalents are selling for.
And showing better value to consumers, particularly in the current economic climate is one of Hisense’s major goals, says Iannuzzi, who is looking for “solid and steady growth” in the Australian market. Like TCL, Hisense also offer a similar three year warranty on TVs.
And these smart devices are far from cheap quality despite the low price – Chinese TVs caused a major stir at CES in January last, showcasing some “incredible” technology, says one source.
Haier, not yet available in Oz, had its revolutionary 58″ Brain Wave TV, a wireless set controlled by your mind, on show at CES, as well as showcasing home ‘cloud living’, virtually edgeless cloud TV, and glass-free 3D TV. TCL also debuted 20 LCD models and its breakthrough Cloud Life TVs based on cloud computing.
And it looks like the Chinese grasp of Asian TV markets have grown massively.
Chinese TV brands now account for just over 50% of all sets sold in Asian market in Q4 last, surpassing Japanese stalwarts including Sony and Sharp, who were previously top of the pack in the region.
Chinese brands swept the 1-4 spots in sales rankings, Sharp is No.5 while Samsung ranked eighth and LG Electronics at 10th place.
Japanese made TVs share across the Asian market has fallen to 31.4% in Q4 – more than a 10% drop, according to DisplaySearch, while Chinese brands enjoyed 42.1% jump.
South Korean rivals, including Samsung and LG accounted for 13.1% of TV sales, during the same quarter.
|Globally, Samsung remains the top TV maker followed by LG, Sony and Pana but not for long more if the Chinese have their way.
And since China makes more TV’s than any other country in the world – around 18 million – domination seems imminent.