By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Trust International, a leading European broad-line accessories brand, has begun rolling out product to retailers in the United States and Canada.
The privately held company, based in The Netherlands, has partnered with New Jersey-based Lighthouse Brands to import and market Trust-brand PC and notebook peripherals, iPod and MP3 accessories, Web cams, VoIP packs and gaming-control devices. About 40 SKUs have shipped to select e-tailers with about 80 to 100 SKUs expected to be available by International CES in January.
Lighthouse has partnered with D&H Distributing and is primarily targeting e-tailers and the reseller channel with its first wave of products, eventually looking to land on shelves in CE specialty chains, according to Lighthouse president Perry Dubinsky, who visited TWICE's offices to introduce the brand.
Dubinsky cited Trust's 25 years of experience and its global presence and reputation, with more than 250 products available in about 40 countries, as the primary driving forces behind the brand's expansion into North America. "We have a compelling story to tell," he said. "Trust is a brand that competes with brands like Logitech, Microsoft and Targus overseas on a daily basis and beats them in a lot of markets. I can't say Trust is the No. 1 brand over there all day, every day, but there's a daily jockeying for the No. 1 slot in many of these categories and Trust comes out on top in many of those markets. That's a tremendous accomplishment, given the strength behind some of those other brands. Trust is the largest independent supplier of peripherals to that market."
The products available here will be identical to those available in the European market, though "the packaging is being redesigned to cut down on the languages and make it cleaner and more contemporary," Dubinsky said. "We don't want to completely lose the European influence because that's part of the cachet of the line — that contemporary design and look of the products — but we've cleaned up the packaging a bit for this market."
In terms of brand positioning, Dubinsky said, "What we want to do is, on a quality level, compete with the best brands, and on a price level, be about 20 percent lower than the best … At the opening price point level in most big-box stores you're looking at primarily direct or private-label goods that are mostly price driven. We certainly want to be above that, but below the market leaders on price, and equal in quality."
As for marketing, he said, "Here in the U.S., what we're trying to accomplish within the next 90 to 120 days is we're reaching out to all of e-tail, the resellers and tier-two retailers. We're trying to generate as much business through the D&H programs, incentivizing their inside phone people and incentivizing the buyer to get them to try out the brand."
So far, the D&H relationship is paying off. Trust SKUs are currently being offered by Amazon, ANTonline, Bass, Beach Audio, Buy.com, CompuPlus, Datavision (in store also), Directron and Newegg.com.
Dubinsky acknowledged that growing the brand at retail is an uphill climb. "There is almost an immediate assumption, a skepticism, by some buyers, because we have so many products and perhaps an unfamiliar brand to them, that we are just another 'reboxer.' But that's not the case," he said. "Trust has extensive R&D in the corporate offices in Europe. They have another R&D office in Taiwan, and there's extensive global end-user support as well. That's another part of our story that we need to be heard. So we're out here telling it. I'm confident we'll get there eventually."
The complete Trust portfolio will include wired and wireless laser, optical, notebook and presenter mouse designs; keyboards and tablets; Web cams; headphones, headsets and microphones; and game controllers, card readers, USB hubs and iPod accessories.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.