Homlish: Skyworth Looks To ‘Evolve’ In The U.S. Market
After some foundation laying amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 China-based Skyworth is preparing for a major North American television push in 2021.
But don’t expect any splashy too-good-to-be-true promotional pricing, empty promises or products that aren’t fully baked.
John Homlish, Skyworth USA senior VP sales & marketing, told HD Guru.com that the television brand that is well known in the China marketplace is coming here for the long haul.
Over the past year and half the company has been methodically and strategically seeding the market with select value-added TV lines of Android TV-based LED-LCD TVs and even an OLED series to select accounts. This has included home shopping channels, two-step retail distributors including O’Rourke Bros. and select regional dealers in the NATM Buying Group (such as ABC Warehouse and PC Richard & Son etc.).
Homlish said that despite the hardships of the COVID-19, Skyworth’s 2019 sales have surpassed expectations, taking advantage of bigger brand’s periodic shortage situations resulting from home-sheltering consumers loaded with stimulus money upgrading televisions to help weather the shelter-in-place storm.
“We’re feeling pretty good about the level of success we are seeing this year, coming off of a relatively small base in 2019,” Homlish told us.
For Q4, Skyworth continues to sell less flashy mainstream-market-positioned LCD TV models such as the UC6200 TV series that offers aggressive price points by leaving off step up features the company adds further up the line. At the same time, the company’s LCDs use core-level high-value features including IPS-based LCD panels offering a wider viewing angle than many competitors in the same price class.
To date, the U.S. product mix has not reflected the advanced premium high tech offerings Skyworth has shown in China and a few other markets around the world. Homlish said that’s because Skyworth is preparing a much more extensive product assortment for a 2021 market kickoff that will begin early in the new year. The effort will begin with the release of a series of value-centric LED TVs, before gradually ramping up with more advanced higher-performing televisions as the year progresses.
Homlish said that for the complex U.S. television market, it’s necessary to take baby steps, to establish a brand quality reputation. In China Skyworth is known as a major manufacturer of better performing and well-featured smart TVs anchored by popular streaming entertainment services. It’s even a partner with LG Display in a major new TV-sized open-cell OLED panel plant in Guangzhou, China.
But Homlish said in the United States Skyworth is intentionally positioned as a “tier 2” premium brand leveraging primarily two-step distribution as the brand methodically builds a loyal base of dealers and a reputation among end users as a manufacturer of advanced high quality products. In time, this is hoped to replicate the brand image enjoyed in Skyworth’s domestic market, Europe and parts of Asia. Underscoring this is the fact that Skyworth is also a major OEM TV producer for other major TV brands sold here.
Meanwhile, in Canada, where the market dynamics are a little more flexible, Skyworth is being more broadly distributed, and will soon appear in Costco Canada and Canadian Tire outlets.
Homlish said that unlike other markets, where Skyworth is pushing a business model anchored to its Coocaa sub brand for select television series tied to over-the-top streaming services that generate revenue on the back end, Skyworth USA products will be straightforward Android TV 10-based products loaded with popular established services in the Western market.
Skyworth USA also will not look to leverage here the Skyworth-Metz brand used in Germany and parts of Europe for more advanced displays, including 4K OLED models, Homlish said.
Also, for the U.S. sales operations, Skyworth has chosen not to jump into 8K TV models in 2021, Homlish said. This is in contrast to other markets around the world scheduled to soon get the Skyworth Q71 8K TV series recently announced at a major line review in China.
That series is to be tied in with a 5G/8K ecosystem that will be looking to build out streamed 8K content, much of which will be generated by independent content producers working in association with the company’s platforms.
Starting in the second and third quarters of 2021, Homlish said Skyworth expects to rollout the more advanced products on which Skyworth hopes to build its reputation and business going forward in the United States. More details on this will be revealed soon, but plans are to include high value 4K quantum dot-based televisions as well as 4K OLED models, all launching with the Android TV 10 OS platform toward the second half.
“We have 32 years of experience manufacturing televisions. We’ve manufactured for some of the largest Korean and Japanese brands in the industry,” Homlish said. “We come to our customers with a strong message of experience in building televisions for the top tier brands in the industry. We take a lot of time in developing the right packaging to protect our product, and our track record has helped generate a lot of confidence in our product reliability and performance.”
“If you look at our entrance into the U.S. market, we have taken it slowly. We will not be like other brands that have been here and then backed out,” Homlish assures. “If you think about our alliance partners, we have been with Google in Android from the beginning. We have strong relationships with Dolby, we are a member of the UHDA Alliance and will be bringing Filmmaker Mode to our televisions in the future. There is a high level of performance quality and design, and Skyworth is 100% committed to this marketplace. That’s why we are going to evolve into this market instead of making a big splash by undercutting everything with products dropped into mass channels. Our mission and strategy is to give the consumer the best product, technology and value at a tier 1 level of performance.”
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By Greg Tarr
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