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April 14, 2007

Licensing Traditional American Brand Names Brings Life to Imported TVs

General Electric has a great article up about a subject I have written about before: how staid, established brand names like and are being licensed to consumer electronics manufacturers overseas, mostly in Asia, and come back home to dominate a segment they did many years ago.

Doug Woo, president of the company that uses the Westinghouse brand name to sell flat screen TVs, points out that "It's difficult enough to merchandise a brand-new technology, and introducing it under a brand new name is a double difficulty. So we took away half of the problem."

Smart move, Mr. Woo. I would certainly agree that launching a new brand name is harder than using an existing one, albeit in another segment. And I’d add that price points are so close that even recognized, iconic brand names get a good run for their money from .

It is interesting to note that Woo claims he can "create new models in weeks" to tap into consumer preferences, and, moreover, that Westinghouse is now one of the top five LCD flat screen brands in the USA. Who would have guessed?

Sylvania logoPlus the GE brand is now getting some serious attention from Asian manufacturers, not least because it is such an admired brand name. The article claims that licensors are very careful to audit the product quality of the licensee, so this does seem like a win-win situation for all.

I can’t help but think, however, that many consumers, when the buy products by Westinghouse, Honeywell, GE or Sylvania, must be under the impression they are "buying American." I suppose in a world where close to 40% of a Ford is made overseas, "buying American" is harder and harder to do.

Perhaps buying an American brand name is close enough!

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Posted by William Lozito at April 14, 2007 11:19 AM
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