LG launches new brand to attract affluent buyers

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LG launches new brand to attract affluent buyers

LG Electronics plans to launch a new “Signature” brand next year to switch its focus to high-end consumers in Asia and key markets such as the United States and Europe.

The spinoff brand will initially include OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs, washing machines, refrigerators and air purifiers, and will be diversified as the brand expands.

The world’s second-largest TV producer and sixth-largest smartphone maker announced Wednesday that it will unveil the new Signature brand at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5 in Las Vegas.

The brand “will open up new opportunities for high-end appliances and consumer electronics,” said Brian Na, executive vice president and global marketing officer at LG. “LG’s leadership in both brown and white goods gives us a unique advantage that very few companies have.”

LG has scrapped features that detracted from the brand’s streamlined look and offer “a sense of exclusivity to its owners,” the company said, indicating the key distinction will lie in design. OLED TVs with the Signature logo will have its bezel size minimized and be thinner.

The company is following in the footsteps of Toyota’s luxury vehicle brand Lexus, which originated from a corporate project to develop a new premium sedan that debuted in 1989. Hyundai Motor opted for a similar strategy earlier this month with its premium Genesis brand, as the top Korean automaker sought to upgrade its image.

LG’s announcement comes as the company has increasingly been struggling with slumping performance as it failed to ride the biggest waves of technological progress in the recent decade: the smartphone.

The company was demoted to the sixth spot in the global smartphone market by shipment last year as China’s Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo moved at a faster pace.

LG is still the No. 2 TV producer in the world after Samsung and is targeting the luxury consumer electronics market that accounts for 5 percent, or 17.5 trillion won ($14.8 billion), of the total 350 trillion won global business.

“LG’s consumer electronics division is doing okay,” said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst with IBK Securities. “But it’s true the company doesn’t really have a strong premium brand image among well-heeled consumers because its products are mostly known for its reasonable prices and nice quality.”

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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