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LG's Jay Vandenbree Plots Expansion

11/08/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. — Preceding his company’s annual dealer meeting in San Antonio last week, LG Electronics USA’s sales senior VP Jay Vandenbree shared some insights into his new role and the goals he hopes to achieve with the South Korean-based manufacturer following his long tenure with Sony Electronics.

Vandenbree was elevated to sales senior VP for combined consumer electronics and major appliances following the departure of former CE and major appliances sales president John Herrington last May. Earlier he had served for 23 years at Sony Electronics in the U.S., last holding the position of sales president.

In his new position, Vandenbree will oversee LG’s ongoing move to expand the brand across a wider range of retail distribution channels, after it had established a more restricted profile as a resource, primarily for accounts with directed sales floors that could sell the company’s value-added message. But over the past year, the brand has moved select television models and other products into mass merchants, including Walmart, warehouse clubs and other mass merchants, following the migration path taken by most other top tier brands.

In his talk with TWICE Vandenbree outlined some other LG plans and strategies:

TWICE: What is your primary goal coming into your new role?

Vandenbree: LG has some tremendous product. It looks as good off as it does on. Where we need to do a better job, and we are doing a better job, is focusing on consumers and our customers, and that’s part of what I’m doing now. Our marketing department is working hard on the consumer part, and I’m working hard on the customer part. To be a better partner in this world we are in is showing everyone how to make money, and we have to show how being a partner with us is better than any other option that’s there, and that’s what I’m going to bring to the table.

TWICE: What product categories are going to get your closest attention?

Vandenbree: All of them. From the electronics side to the appliance side there is something to offer across the board. All of our products are important, and they all bring value to the customer, so my focus goes completely across the board.

TWICE: Do you have any particular market share goals you will be trying to achieve at LG?

Vandenbree: We don’t talk about our market share, specifically, but we are happy where our market share is going. We’ve made some great strides this year with our new customers and our existing customers. We’ve grown all the way across the board, so we are pretty happy with our performance, and that is in excess of what most of the industry has done this year.

TWICE: LG has a presence in virtually every display technology segment of the market. Which of those will present the greatest growth opportunity for the company in the year ahead?

Vandenbree: I think there is great opportunity for us all across the display category because of what we focus on first, and that is the product. We have great looking product that performs very well, and it adds the features that consumers ask for in connectivity, its remote control and how that works, and how it seamlessly transfers content. It has all of the functions that consumers want and that always creates growth. If you answer the consumers’ desires about what they want do, that’s how the company grows.

TWICE: Do you expect to see LG as a top-three market share brand in television in the next five years?

Vandenbree: Absolutely. We expect to be the No. 1 brand in all of our categories. There is no other goal than No. 1.

TWICE: To achieve that in television you have to go up against the current No. 1 brand in Samsung, which has been very aggressive in product development, marketing and advertising. Can you match that level of spending?

Vandenbree: It is all in the value proposition to the consumer. There is no one more important than that. That is who buys our product. Consumers don’t always buy promotion, and they don’t buy margin or some other things. They buy great value propositions for them, and that’s where we have to compete — by providing great value propositions for the consumer.

TWICE: Do you have any new strategies or programs to address the A/V specialty and custom-installation channels?

Vandenbree: We have programs for all of our customers. What we look for in those channels is to deliver product that is very special. So when you see our new 3D projector, that is a product that is very special. It is just so fun to watch and something that the custom installers are going to want. The same goes for our 9500-series products and our THX-certified displays. We look for all of those things that add value to each of our channels. So [the new 3D video projector] is great for them.

TWICE: What sort of future do you see ahead for 3D TV?

Vandenbree: I think 3D is an important technology whose future is ahead of it. But we can’t forget that the products and technologies we provide in 3D TV make great 2D televisions as well. We are focusing on the fact that all of our televisions deliver a great picture and the ones that are 3D add a strong added value for that capability. I think consumers appreciate that the television they are buying is the right HD television for them, and it also provides 3D capability when they want to watch that.

TWICE: What is your strategy for moving LG into the mass merchants? Is Walmart going to be big part of your future direction?

Vandenbree: We sell Walmart today, and we are clearly making sure our product is within arm’s reach of the consumers. Some of our consumers shop at mass merchants, so we are going to have product there for them. Some of our consumers shop at the clubs, so we will have product there. Some of them are in A/V specialtym and some of them are in custom install. We will have product wherever the consumer shops.

TWICE: How do you bring 3D TV into a Walmart type of environment?

Vandenbree: I think technology goes to wherever the consumer wants to buy it. It isn’t a matter of keeping anyone happy except the consumer. If the consumer expects to buy a certain technology from a mass merchant, we will provide it to the mass merchants. If they would rather buy it in an A/V specialist, we will sell it there, and if they want it from both, we will find a way to sell it to both and keep balancing the market.

TWICE: Are you satisfied with the retail distribution base you have today, or will you be looking to expand further into new accounts?

Vandenbree: Right now, I won’t make any comments about expanding our distribution, but there again it is a consumer-driven move. We will be wherever the consumer wants to buy us.

TWICE: Do you see any particular distribution channel that might need more attention than the others in your mix?

Vandenbree: Our stance right now is that we are in a good position where we are. Our products support all of the channels we are in today and [appeal] to the consumers we are trying to reach.

TWICE: What are you bringing with you from Sony into this new role at LG?

Vandenbree: I would say I bring experience, not necessarily what I learned at Sony or didn’t learn at Sony, but I’ve had a lot of experience in the industry with our retail partners, working with consumers directly, and I bring my wealth of experience, and that’s where I think I can help: bringing things that have worked that I like and things that haven’t worked, that I think we should stay away from. I have also learned some things from LG. LG has done a tremendous job in our industry. The growth that they’ve had over the past several years has been outstanding.

Vandenbree Bio

Experience: A 23-year Sony Electronics veteran, Jay Vandenbree joined LG Electronics USA in September 2009 as go-to-market operations senior VP, and was appointed sales senior VP in May 2010.

Vandenbree assumed responsibility for leading the U.S. sales organization for LG’s home entertainment and home appliance products, following the departure of John Herrington, former LG sales president of the combined consumer electronics and major appliance operations, who moved on to Sharp Electronics.

Over his 23-year career at Sony Electronics, Vandenbree held key sales operations positions, most recently serving as president of consumer sales from 2006-2009. At that time, he was responsible for Sony’s U.S. consumer sales strategy with retail partners and direct businesses, and was recognized by the Home Theater Specialists of America as 2009 Man of the Year. He earlier served as Sony’s strategic sales planning senior VP.

Education: Vandenbree has a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial relations and management from Seton Hall University.
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