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Monster Counts on Yao Ming to Open China’s Market Door

August 10, 2010 By Nancy Klosek
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Noel Lee is pretty confident that his just-announced partnership with NBA basketball star and Chinese national hero Yao Ming to launch select co-branded products in China will carve a wide enough niche in the market door to allow his Monster Cable brand to build a foothold in the world’s biggest marketplace. 

“It’s a varied market with a huge population,” said Monster Cable’s company principal in explaining why he thinks his strategy of targeting the upper-mid-to-high-end pricing tier while avoiding the low-end, commodity-type tier is the ticket to success. “There’s even interest there in two-channel stereo and higher end loudspeakers there. Because of Yao’s brand, lower-tiered product might be accepted, but that’s not where Monster does business,” he said in describing the retail price range of Yao Monster goods that will begin rolling out through both smaller retailers and big-box stores like Best Buy and soon, Germany’s Media Markt, who are staking a claim to China’s brick-and-mortar electronics shoppers.  

“We’ll also help to educate the dealers there to sell high end, and plan to launch a program like M5 in the U.S. to do that,” added Lee.

First products out of the gate are from Monster’s traditional cable and power management categories, to be followed later this year by lifestyle headphones, backpacks for computers and other technology products, and a line of high-performance eyewear that helps heavy computer users to see images more sharply on their screens while reducing their eye fatigue.

“We’ve studied the market, studied the consumers, and we are relying a lot on our local China staff to be able to guide us. We’re very cautious about relating to the Chinese consumer.  We had a massive amount of press already in Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan about the partnership and we will be promoting the lines through lots of viral marketing and social media, working closely with retailers,” said Lee.

The upshot of Monster’s research means that products launched there may vary somewhat in color and design from what is offered in the U.S., dependent upon what Monster has discovered about the Chinese consumer’s aesthetic preferences.

A strong incentive on Yao Ming’s part to become involved with the Monster endeavor was the fact that a portion of the proceeds from the products’ sale will be used to support the basketball star’s Yao Ming Foundation, which is involved in funding school construction for the disadvantaged in his native land. “He gives a lot of his time to kids, and the Foundation’s establishment is part of the allure of his brand,” said Lee.

Lee, who originally presented the co-branding concept to Yao Ming while chatting with him at an NBA All-Star Game, gave another reason for the athlete’s involvement: “he’s a technologist. He likes Monster for what Monster is.

“The results of this remain to be seen, but I think we’ve got the best chance there is to establish the brand there, because there’s no more of an icon in China than Yao Ming.”

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