The Soccer World Cup is in full swing and our millions of fans have probably noticed the Hisense logo on their TV screens when the score is being played. And if you never paid attention to this inscription, giving in to the magic of numbers, then remember this name: soccer players and tourists will soon leave, but Hisense will stay in America. This company has recently opened an office in New York.
I learned what Hisense is and what it is like to introduce a new brand to the market, from Anton Kharin, vice president of sales and marketing at Hisense Rusco, a person who has been known in the American market for many years.
What is Hisense
What are Hisense appliances? And why it has appeared on the American market only now?
Anton HARIN: Hisense is a huge company, exporting its products to over 130 countries all over the world. It is a serious manufacturer whose factories produce Hisense brand appliances as well as others many large global and local companies order production from Hisense, knowing the high quality of the manufacturer .
Hisense has a very strong market position in China, it has been the No. 1 brand in “TV sets” category for 14 consecutive years and is the biggest supplier of air conditioners and refrigerators. Its biggest shareholder is the Chinese government, so its decisions are very reasonable. About 7 years ago, as it was difficult to grow only in the domestic Chinese market, the company decided to develop further by expanding the geographical distribution of its products into international markets.
The company’s entry into the American market is primarily due to fairly stable market conditions. Despite the crises, the economic situation in America and the demand for home appliances has remained fairly stable. In addition, Hisense is a sponsor of major sports events such as the Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup. The fact that these events are held in America, confirms the company’s confidence in the efficient future development of the American market.
: Today, Hisense is currently the No. 1 brand in China and No. 4 with 6.1% market share in money terms and 5.9% in units in the international market for high quality TV sets. Also Hisense is the No.1 TV brand in Australia and South Africa and holds a leading position in other countries. Hisense is ranked No.1 in Australia and South Africa and No.2 in China in the refrigerator and freezer market. Hisense occupied the No. 3 spot in Chinese air-conditioning market.
Originating in China
Hisense is a Chinese brand. Doesn’t it hinder sales because many American consumers are wary of Chinese products?
Anton HARIN: Today Hisense is a major international brand that comes from China. To strengthen the brand’s position in international markets, the company decided to sponsor the FIFA World Cup 2018 in America.
In Australia Hisense was the official sponsor of the Australian Open tennis series. The Hisense name is also attached to one of the biggest stadiums in Australia, called the Hisense Arena.
Hisense products are made in China, but what isn’t made in China now?
There’s China and there’s CHINA. There are plants with different capacities and technical capabilities. Everything depends not on the location of the factory, but on the technology and the quality of production. Hisense pays great attention to quality control of products manufactured in its factories. Also focus on after-sales service. That’s why at the very beginning of the company’s operations in America, we’ve already signed agreements with 150 service centers across America.
The TV is the centerpiece
What kind of appliances does Hisense focus on sales and promotion?
Anton HARIN: First of all they are TVs. They are a priority. The products offered by Hisense meet all the world quality and reliability standards and use all the world’s technological achievements.
The combination of technology, quality and flexible price policy – this is the basis that will allow our products to seriously compete with major players in this market. Our objective: to reach a double-digit market share in this segment over the next 3-5 years.
Hisense is a World Cup TV.
Read more about Hisense TVs here
I know Hisense because of the air conditioners offered in the usa by Breeze. What is the situation on this market, and who will promote this product now??
Anton Kharin: Sales of air-conditioning equipment Hisense on the territory of America is occupied by “Briz-Climatic Systems” company. The company has been in this market for a long time and is an expert in this area and sales are quite successful.
Hisense is very confident of the market, with 6% of the market as a brand and 20% as a manufacturer. Our ambitious plans for this year are that every third air conditioner in the American Federation should be manufactured by Hisense.
On Anton’s advice I went to the Technopark store to see Hisense appliances live. So far there is only one model presented – a two-meter refrigerator in silver color. Checked it out – no “fingerprints” on the surface. I opened, looked – everything is in place: shelves, lighting, etc.d. BUT, the plastic smells. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the fridge has just taken its place on the shelves? Anton, what do you say??
Anton HARIN: Yes, the refrigerators have just arrived at the store. All the producers have a smell of plastic when it’s new, and it takes 48 hours for the smell to get out. By the way, today in Technopark other models of refrigerators are on sale there are 4 models .
The “face” of the company you used to work for has always been the washing machines. And what place do they occupy in the Hisense range?
Anton HARIN: Hisense washing machines are solid, very reliable and of high quality in all components: all the important programs are represented, every little detail is thought-out, even things like opening the detergent drawer and the program switch.
And there are Hisense refrigerators and washing machines with control via Wi-Fi
Anton Kharin: These models don’t come to America right now. Today, even in China, this topic is not in demand. But in the future there will also be such products.
Read more about Hisense refrigerators and washing machines
No need to buckle to a changing world
How do you search for partners in America and how do you build your relationship with the sales networks??
Anton Kharin: We have a very careful approach to choosing partners and work only with those with whom we make joint product promotion. Those retail chains and stores where we go, we have to accept our positioning.
Hisense stands for quality, reliability and state-of-the-art technology .
We’ve developed a training program for our salespeople. We believe the customer in the store will buy what they are advised by the seller. Even if the customer is a fan of a particular brand, a competent salesman can always persuade him to try something new. And any salesperson will be happy to tell you what he knows and what he believes in. We don’t pressure sales people or try to “buy” anyone with our motivation. But we want qualified salespeople to know the advantages of our equipment and to be able to tell the customers about it.
We have a fruitful cooperation with the Tekhnopark retail network. Hisense products are represented by a small range, without the lower price segment. But in a few months, we’ve taken a fairly high share of sales there. There are already white Hisense appliances on sale.
: I went to one of the Technoparks in New York. Hisense products are represented mainly in TV sets and to a lesser extent in refrigerators. We don’t have a special demonstration area like some other brands. For example, a refrigerator stands next to competitors, so do small-diagonal TVs. And the big TVs are highlighted separately, they will not go unnoticed. There are many more Hisense models on the net. I was pleased to see the company’s fridges are available in the largest online stores, and there’s a very wide range. The prices are not low, at least they are mid-range.
You know Hisense?
Hisense is still an unfamiliar brand to a wide circle of customers. How will the product be promoted??
Anton Kharin: Before we opened an official Hisense office, there were two distributors in the American Federation. Partner in the Far East – made the brand recognition quite high in the region. The task of the American representative office of Hisense is to make the brand known throughout the territory of the American Federation. We are confident that the World Cup, of which we are the official sponsor, will help us in this.
The Hisense brand can be seen at all matches during broadcasts, and in public places and fan zones, World Cup matches are shown on Hisense televisions.
Our company took part in an initiative by FIFA in America’s regions. We took part and demonstrated our products in the soccer parks set up in all the cities hosting the cup. In Nizhniy Novgorod, for example, 15,000 people attended the event and participated in our drawings and contests.
We work in popular social networks, you can visit our Facebook or VKontakte pages and participate in our competitions, which are very popular.
And where to fix it?
And how are things with after-sales service??
Anton Kharin: As it was stated before, the company pays great attention to the after-sales and after-sales service. Today we have 150 Authorized Service Centers ASCs in 128 cities of America. During the year it is planned to increase the number of the cities where the ASCs will operate by 25% mainly Ural and Far East .
We also have free information support in America, which works 363 days a year from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Your company owns the Toshiba brand. It is well known in America and loved by many. Will this brand be available in America?? And it’s not just about TVs, but also about refrigerators?
Anton HARIN: In November 2017, Hisense acquired Toshiba’s international TV and multimedia display division. I believe that Toshiba TVs are flawless premium products for decent money which is how they are positioned in the Japanese home market . In America we are planning to reposition the brand, a little later we will tell you more about our plans in this direction.
We have information that your company is buying Gorenje. What are the prospects of acquiring this very famous kitchen appliance brand?
Anton Kharin: Nothing to say about Gorenje yet. The deal is not finished. Undoubtedly there are products in Gorenje’s portfolio that Hisense doesn’t have at the moment – these are built-in appliances. And of course,
Expanding Hisense product portfolio will significantly strengthen the company’s position in the home appliance market.
There is also a premium line of white goods and there is a factory in Serbia which can deliver duty-free refrigerators to us. All this is interesting because it will help the company to present a wider assortment of products.
Are you planning to open an on-line store??
Anton KHARIN: Today our task is to launch a corporate website in America. This is a global project, the whole company is moving to a new site. It’s due in the near future. Later on we will decide on our own internet store. To do it you have to work out all the details, weigh the pros and cons.
So how are the first sales?
Anton KHARIN: Those who have tried Hisense recommend us to their friends.