If you’ve been following the NBA this year, you may have noticed a new name plastered everywhere: Haier. What does Haier have to do with basketball? Nothing, besides the millions of eyes that the company wants to catch in a grand campaign to establish itself as major U.S. appliance brand. Already successful in categories like air conditioning and compact refrigeration, this Chinese company has reason to believe that this is possible, and part of the plan is to grab a piece of the high-end market.
If you ask Warren Mann, he’ll tell you that Fisher & Paykel first proved that even a little-known brand can achieve big success. “They showed a lot of people that you don’t have to come in and be the cheapest guy in town,” he said. “It’s encouraging to a company like Haier.” Mann, the former director of the MARTA buying group (now a division of Brand Source), is working for Haier as vice president of sales, and is just one of the industry veterans that Haier has brought on board to help them expand its U.S. presence. Mike O’Malley, formerly of Samsung and Maytag, recently joined the company as well.
Haier has a significant global presence, ranking as one of the world’s top appliance manufacturers. Yang Mianmian, president of Haier, told China Daily, a Chinese trade publication, that her company has realized an annual growth rate of more than 40 percent in the global market since 2000 and that 20 production bases are planned in other countries and regions by 2010. But in the U.S., the company is known only by a few for its air conditioners and mini-refrigerators.