BenQ Has A New Story To Tell
Projectors and specialty monitors fuel renewed retail strategyJanuary 3, 2013 By Jeff O’Heir
After lying dormant in the U.S. for several years—roughly between 2007 and 2010, although it remained a top player in Europe and Asia—BenQ has spent the last two years rebuilding its brand and figuring out ways to be more relevant to CE retailers, especially as dwindling shelf space becomes more valuable and prices decline. “If I look at the dealer and retailer discussions I’ve had, once you get past talking about flat screens and customer acquisition products, there’s really a dearth of products that cause consumers to want to visit stores and spend time there,” said Bob Wudeck, BenQ America’s director of retail and e-commerce.
After a limited presence through some U.S. based e-tailers, BenQ is now ramping up its brick-and-mortar sales strategy. It recently signed up Fry’s Electronics, B&H, TigerDirect and Micro Center and is looking for more regional independents to partner with. “Now we have to have products with greater features and value, that have twice as many turns (as competing gear),” Wudeck said.
BenQ America boiled those offerings down to projectors and specialty monitors, mainly aimed at gaming.
On the projector front, Wudeck believes BenQ’s new units can help retailers double ASPs over flat-screen TVs when they add in the screen, cables and additional installation services. “If they can sell one projector to make up for a bunch of flat-screen TVs, then there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, adding that the new projectors have more features and sell for less than competing units.
The new generation projectors are the MS517 ($449), MX518 ($549), and MW519 ($649). They feature 2800 lumens; contrast ratios of 13000:1; and support 3D Blu-ray via HDMI 1.4 and NVIDIA 3DTV Play. The line is aimed at small-to-medium size spaces, and based on BenQ’s SmartEco technology.
SmartEco is designed to provide 6,500 hours of lamp life. It automatically adjusts the lamp power to maximize power savings by delivering the best contrast and brightness performance using only as much light as needed, Wudeck said. “One of our advantages is to be innovative, to come out with technology first and faster than the competition,” Wudeck said.
BenQ America realized that to sell such a highly commoditized product as a monitor, it had to have true differentiators. So it recently launched the VW30 series (VW2230H $179 and VW2430H $249) of all-white Mac-compatible asymmetrical LED monitors. The units have no printing, coating or adhesives on the surface for a pure, modern look. They include a removable smartphone stand at the base and can connect to any MacBook through an M-book mode to create the notebook’s picture quality on the 21.5-inch or 24-inch displays. A new Reading Mode adjusts the monitor settings automatically to simulate the warmth of reading paper.
BenQ has also become the official monitor of Major League Gaming and has received input and feedback from the league’s pro gamers on its XL, RL and GL line of Professional Gaming Monitors; each series is optimized for a particular game title.
“Gaming is a whole demographic shift to an under-25 audience. They’re as passionate as NASCAR fans,” Wudeck said, also referring to a broader market that retailers can tap. “In a commodity market like monitors, we had to think of something that the others haven’t done. Right now, we’re the only ones that focus on gaming.”