How Vizio Went From Nowhere to Top LCD Seller

Keeping it simple, hands-on advice, and timing are among the chief reasons that the Vizio brand — not only unheard of but not even in existence 7 years ago — shot out of nowhere to lead the rest of the pack in American LCD HD sales in the last couple of quarters.

After touring Vizio's base of operations in Irvine, Calif., and interviewing its execs, the New York Times recently compiled a list of the reasons it believes Vizio quickly rose to the top spot in LCD sales, which, to paraphrase, include:

  1. Timing — by using common components from Asia, keeping it simple (and thus keeping the price low), and by befriending a Costco buyer who gave Vizio free and detailed advice on packaging and presentation.
  2. Make Do with Less — a new company without legacy costs, it started (and remains) a mere "assembler" of HD sets, not an inventor with lots of R&D expenses. And it outsources its repair operations (for better or for worse). With almost no money for advertising or marketing, it created its packaging to look like magazine ads.
  3. Let the Competition Lead — Vizio never sought to be a technology leader, instead waiting in the wings while others introduced new advances (i.e., its first 3-D sets will not be introduced until the CEA next January).
  4. Think like Distracted Consumers — knowing most consumers hate detailed manuals, Vizio produces a "quick-start" guide on a large piece of heavy paper stock, written simply in plain English.
  5. Use only "Good Enough" Technology — Vizio HD video has never won awards for being the best, but its once so-so picture quality has improved, and even Consumer Reports recently listed its video quality as "very good" (albeit CR also noting complaints of a "short set life" compared to some other brands).