Opinion

“It is better to work with one distributor having a channel network within a country,” Mathis Lai

Mathis Lai, Business Manager, MMD Singapore

EMPA distributes the Philips brand of monitors in UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. However Hong Kong based TPV Technologies manufactures the monitors and its subsidiary MMD further markets the products globally. A discussion with Mathis Lai, Business Manager, MMD Singapore on the fast changing product portfolio and other go to market activities.

EMPA is the distributor of Philips monitors across the region. What is the connection with MMD?

Lai: Philips and TPV went into a licensing agreement in 2009 and TPV now owns the rights for Philips branded monitors. TPV is actually the manufacturer of Philips monitors. MMD is a wholly owned subsidiary of TPV and is in charge of sales and marketing of Philips branded monitors globally. The marketing of monitors is in line with Philips guidelines, whether above the line or below the line. Manufacturing of Philips monitors is based in China, though TPV has factories around the world. Product design is done by MMD through our inhouse product development teams.

How does MMD operate globally?

Lai: MMD has four site offices in the world – Western Europe, Eastern Europe, China and Singapore. Rest of the world is taken care of by Singapore and this includes the Middle East region. We work with distributors within the country. EMPA takes care of UAE and has been appointed for Saudi Arabia. In Indonesia we have one distributor for the whole country. It is better to work with one distributor having a channel network within a country. In India we have four distributors for four regions of the country. India is a different story.

How is the product portfolio of Philips monitors segmented?

Lai: The entire range of monitors is LCD and LED backlit is getting more and more popular. In comparison to CCFL lighting, LEDs have 40% less power consumption and monitor designs can be slim and ultra slim. The range of products is categorised as B2B, B2C through retail, TV monitors and gaming with 18″ to 27″ sizes.

What are the features for the corporate and business users?

Lai: In the B2B category of monitors we have standard, business and professional line of products. The standard line is entry level with plug and play functionality. The business monitor is a stepped up product with speakers and height adjustment. The professional segment has swivel and pivot, colour and contrast adjustments and power sensors. The power sensor is two infrared sensors in front of the monitor that detects your presence and dims and shuts itself down accordingly.

What are the features for the consumer and retail segment?

Lai: In the B2C category of monitors we have E,C and X product segments. In B2C all monitors are of contemporary design. They have an added feature patented by Philips called Smart Image. You can select different modes of use for example office and entertainment and each has a different setting for brightness, contrast, resolution and other settings. Power sensor has also been introduced in the consumer line. All our monitors are about sustainability and are using lead and mercury free materials. In the X line of products we are using a Philips patented technology called light frame. The bezel surrounding the monitor has a blue emitting light. A university and focus group study has shown that the blue light frame reduces eye fatigue after prolonged use.

What are the features for gamers?

Lai: We have a realised a lot of our users are technology savvy. A lot of them like to play online games which are 3D. Our 3D monitor appeals to a lot of gamers since it is a stepped up model with high resolution, high contrast, flicker free and supports 3D rendering. It comes with an HDMI port and can be used as a TV through a digital setup box with HDMI output.

Today there is trend towards large format monitors and integration of monitors and TVs towards an intelligent viewing device. Are there any such specific products in Philips portfolio?

Lai: Under MMD we not only take care of LCD monitors but we also have the other side of business called signage. The signage monitors are actually large format monitors in the size range upto 50 inches. These monitors are meant for professional use like airport displays. They are meant to work continuously once they are switched on and an after sales service contract comes with the product.

Since MMD is operating from Singapore, how do you manage equitable pricing across all the countries?

Lai: In Philips we are quite strict. We do not allow price cutting on the same model between partners. For this reason we appoint distributors within the country and they are not allowed to parallel import into another country. There will always be differences in the transfer price to a partner by country. It depends on the marketing needs, where the country sits and a whole range of other factors. Different countries have different import duties, local tax, VAT and so on and the final selling price will be different.

What are your plans to expand into the various regions of Africa?

Lai: We have a distributor in South Africa. For the rest of Africa it is through reexports. EMPA has customers coming from as far as North Africa to meet them. We would be happy to expand into Africa and we would be happy to work with EMPA if such an opportunity arises.

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TPV Technologies

– Global revenues of around $10 billion

– Largest volume manufacturer of monitors globally, 30 million units in H1 2011

– Manufactures and sells AOC, Philips and Envision brands

– 55% revenue from PC monitors, balance from TVs and other products

– China 37% and rest of the world 26%, largest volume markets for TPV

– Production at ten locations across China, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, Russia

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