Vizio fell off its perch as the number one brand of LCD TVs in the second quarter of 2011  according to industry marketing research firm DisplaySearch.  The honor now goes to Samsung. In terms of overall TV shipments into the US and Canada, Vizio is now number four, topped again by Samsung (1), Panasonic including new subsidiary Sanyo (2) and LG (3).

Furthermore, reflecting a shift in consumer buying habits, Vizio no longer has an industry top five selling LCD model (by dollar value in Q2), with Samsung now occupying four places and Sharp the fifth, reports Tamaryn Pratt, principal of TV industry marketing data company, Quixel Research.

With a formula that combined low prices, outsourcing panels and parts, and using a Taiwan based assembler to build its TVs Vizio came from nowhere in 2002 to become a major flat panel player in the American market. Vizio kept distribution costs low by selling its brand mainly through warehouse clubs, Wal-Mart and Target.

Lately, the company appears to be struggling. Unlike Sony, Samsung, LG and the other tier one manufacturers, Vizio has yet to introduce the bulk of its 2011 models including any of its passive 3D HDTVs, no doubt due to a glut of leftover 2010s which are still offered for sale in the warehouse clubs and on-line.

DisplaySearch analyst Paul Gagnon told HD Guru the bright spots in Q2 2011 sales were the low end under $500 models, dominated by price leaders and sets selling for over $1000. It appears consumer preferences are shifting to the cheapest sets available in the size/feature class such as RCA and Philips (now made by Funai) or to the established, panel producing high quality set makers i.e. Panasonic, Samsung and LG.

Amazon’s latest top 20 best sellers statistics support this, with Vizio capturing only 4 of the 20 models. Here is the link.

Recent visits to warehouse clubs BJs and Costco revealed a sea of leftover 2010 Vizios competing with new 2011s from Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp and other top vendors. According to industry sources, Vizio’s Chief Sales Officer Randy Waynick is no longer with the company. Waynick was quoted in Feb.  2011 in  Dealerscope a CE trade publication saying “Vizio grew last year. Our partners grew last year. We’ve got a winning formula, from the component all the way to the retail floor.”

Dealerscope added: In fact, a Vizio spokesman said that the company will be named #1 in North American LCD sales for the full year (2010) when Displaysearch sales and market share numbers are announced later this week.

After what he termed an incredible year, Waynick expressed disappointment at a recent spate of mainstream news articles about an underlying lack of health in the HDTV business.

“That’s just not our experience,” he said. “We’re not seeing that side of the business at all. Even with our retail partners, we’re not seeing that sort of dismal outlook. The consumers are spending money. We’ve seen such a dramatic spike in the high end of our business.”

Based on the new numbers, fortunes appeared to have substantially changed soon after publication of  the February story.

We submitted numerous requests to Vizio media relations regarding the status of its delayed 2011 models, and inquired, along with other questions, as to where the sets will be sold, but Vizio chose not to respond.



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