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NECO Sees Growth In Flat TV Market

A number of NECO Alliance members are using flat-panel TV displays as a means of expanding their traditional major appliance businesses into the new digital electronics marketplace.

A common theme at vendor booths during the recent NECO Alliance spring convention here, was the introduction of special in-store merchandising displays designed to showcase upscale LCD and plasma TV panels.

Both Philips and Sharp, placed special emphasis on their flat-panel lines, offering retailers special multi-SKU display racks in exchange for buying several high-ticket plasma or LCD products.

Philips offered a complete self-selling flat-panel merchandising rack to members who bought into the Philips display program, said Mike Leese, Philips buying groups general sales manager.

Dealers are required to purchase a plasma display panel, a 15- and a 20-inch LCD TV and a connecting E-box tuner, Leese said. Extended terms including 12-months extending floor planning was also offered.”

Sharp also pursued the flat-panel story with the group, offering a display rack for its line of AQUOS LCD TVs.

Jim Spaulding, Sharp Northeast regional manager said the merchandising rack is free to dealers who select three LCD screen sizes with a backup. The units are “already discounted,” and Sharp expects dealers to stay with the company’s new MAP pricing program.

“With the new technology it’s important to stay with price protection and stay current on models so you don’t get behind the curve,” Spaulding said. “That’s our guarantee to the dealers. We want the price to drop, but at the same time we have to offer to partner up with the dealer to make sure they don’t get burned when that happens.”

Thomson was also capitalizing on the flat-panel story by showing a new LCD TV designed for kitchen placement. The company believes that the product is an ideal tie in for NECO dealers, who typically move heavy volumes of higher-end kitchen appliances.

David Reljac, Thomson area sales manager handling the Key Boston Group, said RCA’s new under-cabinet LCD TV is a hot product with the NECO group.

JVC’s primary mission at the NECO show was to promote use of its new D-VHS HDTV as a programming demonstration source for HDTV televisions and to begin sales of the HDTV decks in order to play a new class of HDTV D-VHS movies.

Tom Brennan, JVC key accounts district manager, said the first HDTV movie titles in the D-VHS/D-Theater format will be available beginning on May 28. Brennan said JVC expects each of the four participating studios to offer 25 titles by the end of the year. The average suggested retail price will be $39.95 per title.

Software will be available online through, and a few retailers have agreed to stock titles.

The company also presented it newly launched lines of HDTV direct-view monitors and the just-added rear projection TVs.