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Waynick Looks To Take Vizio Up Market

3/07/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
IRVINE, CALIF. — Vizio chief sales officer Randy Waynick said recent fourth-quarter numbers issued by market analysts showing his company atop the U.S. LCD market for unit shipments with 28 percent growth was a testament to the brand’s decision to go more upscale in its product planning.

The company that was once known as the “where vision meets value brand” has picked up a new moniker of “entertainment freedom for all,” looking to shake the notion that the brand belongs in the opening-price-point club.

Instead, Waynick said, Vizio’s big growth last year came from TVs with advanced feature sets and picture performance, as is offered in the XVT-model series. The company also believes that its decision to launch the world’s first passive-glasses LCD TV system last December has put it on the right track to soon lead the industry in 3DTV shipments as well.

“We had an incredible year last year and an incredible fourth quarter,” Waynick told TWICE. “The mantra at CES was: If you are a Vizio dealer, your market share grew. If you weren’t, it wasn’t such a good year for you.”

Waynick said he bristled at recent reports in some national publications that the TV industry has hit a rocky road.

“My perception of the year [2010] was that it wasn’t doom and gloom out there – it was pretty good,” he said. “The way the Vizio business model is developing so quickly really is resonating and that shows up based on what the consumers are purchasing and where they are purchasing it.”

Although the company acknowledged plans to expand its distribution into retail accounts offering great sales support to help carry the more innovative products in its assortment, Waynick said Vizio is content offering a wide range of products and feature sets at the core accounts that helped get Vizio where it is today – namely, Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club and Walmart.

“We launched our 65-inch Theater 3D passive system in December at $3,500, and our supply never even touched the level of demand,” Waynick said, adding that some of those sets were carried by clubs and discounters as well as newer accounts with directed sales support. “We can’t open up new floors [for the Theater 3D product] because we are still chasing supply on this product. This really endorses the new thinking about manufacturers. It’s not this heavy SG&A business model. It’s not about inflated margin. It’s about bringing the best value, the best technology and innovation to the market place at a value price.”

Unlike LG and Toshiba, which will introduce passive 3DTVs this year as a lower-end offering to their active-shutter glasses-based sets, Vizio is positioning Theater 3D as its premium 3D line.

“To buy an active-shutter system, you are stepping down,” Waynick said. “You’re spending more money to get the passive technology. We think consumers get it.”

Waynick said that Vizio will not push 3D for 3D’s sake, but will include it as a feature in a package of technologies, including Vizio apps services and LED backlighting.

“Our approach is not to artificially push people into a 3DTV when they’re not sure if they really want it or need it,” he said. “We listened to our retailers very carefully. It’s a nightmare trying to sell active-shutter technology out there. Passive is our future.”

As for its expanded distribution plans, Waynick said: “We’re not trying to knock the door down and open up to everybody. We are adding new categories and looking for new partners, but we aren’t looking to simply expand our distribution base. We are looking carefully at what the consumers want and where they are shopping.”
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