IT HAS been a rather turbulent year for consumer electronics vendor Benq since it launched in February but country manager Rick Jansen is predicting better things to come from 2006.
“I’m really happy with how Benq has performed this year but not quite as happy as I thought I’d be. There has been a lot of trial and error and I can honestly say I’ve learnt a lot,” he says.
He cites the closure of Westan, rising petrol prices and a quiet period during the election for contributing to a frustrating year.
“It’s been interesting because it’s the first time I’ve been on the vendor side rather than working in distribution.”
Jansen says Benq’s top product this year has been its range of projectors, which have been flying out the door, followed by LCD televisions.
“Monitor sales have been OK but there’s so much choice for customers. Some are very indoctrinated to Philips so I have to find the right partners to hit the market properly.”
Jansen plans to hit the ground running in the new year and has a third staff member coming onboard to focus specifically on the South Island, handling both retailers and IT resellers.
“Next year will be our year — we have the right products and people are actually coming to see us. When people approach you for distribution or product information something is going right.”
In Jansen’s view the IT industry is suffering from a lack of revolutionary products.
“What I mean by that is where is the next Windows platform that requires people to upgrade or buy a bigger processor? Some would say the Media PC but I wouldn’t put money on that becoming a consumer household product in the next year.”
Although Jansen says he loves his Media PC he thinks the setup is too complicated for the average user.
He says he is surprised at the lack of quoting opportunities this year and believes that is partly because many resellers fail to ask customers the right questions.
“Unless we have these revolutionary products it comes down to one thing — price. I heard about a government deal where nine out of ten resellers quoted the same HP notebook.”
Jansen says resellers are using price as a differentiator too much, partly because so many IT products are commoditised.
“That’s concerning for a brand like Benq which isn’t the cheapest. I now give resellers a list of questions to ask and, so far, that’s been successful.” Next year will see Benq expand its range of mobile phones, TVs and notebooks aimed at the lifestyle market.
As a result of Benq’s acquisition of Siemens earlier this year it inherited sponsorship of the Real Madrid soccer team.
Jansen admits he is still trying to find out what promotional material he can access but says he is already looking into soccer sponsorship in New Zealand.