There's a new brand name among the ranks of peripherals and digital lifestyle products. The organisation formerly known as Acer Communications and Multimedia has forged its own brand identity by changing its name to Benq.
According to Acer co-founder, CEO and chairman, Stan Shih, the time is right for the group to build its own identity rather than battle on with the Acer tag, which is clearly perceived as a PC company by consumer and OEM customers.
Shih said that as the industry approaches "a new era in IT", the mother organisation is reinventing itself as "the new Acer". In the current climate of limited long-term opportunity, Acer the PC hardware company is going to reposition itself as "an e-enablement company" with a new focus on services, according to Shih. This is the same sort of manoeuvring currently being conducted by HP, Compaq and Dell.
Acer CM, the separately listed peripherals and components manufacturing group, which has enjoyed 33 per cent year-on-year growth in the last 12 months, will focus on what it is marketing as "bringing enjoyment and quality to life". And therein lies the source of the new name: Bring ENjoyment and Quality to life.
Benq will be officially launched globally in March. KY Lee, president of Acer CM, said branded product is expected to find its way into Australian channel inventory by mid-February.
Twenty-two new products -- from LCD monitors to scanners, digital cameras and mobile phones -- are already in production or on the drawing board. Over $US30 million worth of marketing funds have been allocated to raise awareness of the Benq brand in selected countries, including Australia.
Lee said that "while the name is new, the company is not". Acer CM was founded in 1984 and is expected to record $3.2 billion of revenues (33 per cent year-on-year growth) for the calendar year ending December 31, 2001.
"The Benq group hits the ground running with enormous production capacity, a large range of products in strong growth markets and extensive sales and marketing resources in place across the world to promote the brand," Lee said. "We have star products and we have cash cows."
Benq has a 100 per cent channel focus, Lee said, with its revenues currently split evenly between branded peripherals and OEM manufacturing -- a ratio it is hoping to retain into the future.
The breakaway from the Acer brand and heritage is expected to be beneficial to the group's growth curve and acceptance among channel partners, according to Lee.
"We recognise that branding is very important to our channels. We expect [channels] will be surprised at first and then excited after a while.
"The Acer association has hurt us on some occasions where potential OEM customers perceived us to be a competitor even though the two companies are totally separate entities.
"We will continue to be working very closely with existing channels. Expanding and enhancing our channels is crucial to growing this brand. We rely heavily on our channels and have every intention to continue that association."
Lee also said there will initially be "better incentives" to channels to take up the next-generation, Benq-branded products, but said details had not yet been determined.