PCR interviews head of marketing Linda Hassall on growth, gaming and new devices including wearable tech

PC indie retailers can prosper in wearables space – Acer UK

As the number two PC vendor across EMEA and with ambitions to take an even larger share of the market, Acer is known for standing out from the crowd. PCR speaks to Acer UK’s head of marketing Linda Hassall about its popular Chromebook and 2-in-1s, exciting Windows 10 developments and growth in both wearables and gaming…

PCR: What’s new for Acer this year? What can your retail, reseller and distribution partners expect to see?

Linda Hassall, Acer UK’s head of marketing: Our focus is on innovation, product leadership and meeting market trends. We believe this is paying off and the evidence can be seen in our Q3 financial results and increase in market share. 

We continue to solidify our existing core business while also stepping up the pace to innovate in new areas such as cloud computing.

Having invested significantly as a company over the last few years into research and development, we are looking to produce products that give the best user experience at every price point.

According to IDC you had a 7.8 per cent share of the global computer market in 2014, making you the fourth largest vendor. What are your future ambitions in this space?

It is our ambition and we have plans in place to increase our market share. Across EMEA we are the number two PC vendor.

How was last year for Acer overall? What were your highlights from 2014?

PCs continue to be our core business, but we also saw good traction in the Chromebook and 2-in-1 segments and with high-end models for the gamer crowd.

In the third quarter of last year, Acer posted solid year-on-year growth. In EMEA, PC shipments exceeded overall market growth of 10.4 per cent. This achievement was the result of a strong product mix, especially 2-in-1 devices and Chromebooks.

Across the market, laptop sales are up while tablets have fallen slightly. Will tablets return to favour?

The notebook market has stabilised and we are excited about the opportunities Windows 10 represents across our entire ecosystem.

Research suggests that a tablet buyer is not a laptop buyer. They have different usage models. A tablet is for consumer consumption where as a laptop is used for both creation and consumption. 

Which computing devices have proved to be most popular for Acer? 

Chromebooks have proved incredibly successful in both the consumer and education markets. Our 2-in-1 device, the Aspire Switch 10, has also proved very popular with its four modes of configuration – offering the best of both worlds. It’s a laptop when you need to work and create, and a tablet when you want to consume and share data.

You’ve dabbled in the wearable market with the Liquid Leap. Why did you enter that market and what kind of demand have you seen?

The wearable device market is a very fast growing segment and one that has not yet fully defined itself. However, it is a market we want to be part of, but we are approaching it carefully.

We believe there needs to be a cloud infrastructure at the back-end, and to not just receive the data but analyse it, be that number of steps taken, or sleep patterns.

Although I get excited when I notch up 10,000 steps, I would for example love to know how I compare and rank against others in my age group. This is when the data becomes meaningful and where the cloud can help.

What are your sales expectations for the Liquid Leap+?

Feedback from our first generation of Liquid Leap has been positive, so we are optimistic on sales levels for Liquid Leap+, launched in March at Mobile World Congress. We see wearables as part of our vision for seamless connectivity across all Acer products.

Left to right: Acer’s Liquid Leap band, Switch 10 and Chromebook are some of the vendor’s innovative offerings

Do you think there’s a space for wearables within independent retailers, or do you see them being left to larger retailers and etailers?

The wearables market is so new that I believe there is room for all retail outlets to establish themselves. It could be an involved sale where consumers require help and advice in choosing the right model for them. Independent retailers would be very well suited to this.

What made you want to build a Windows 8.1 Phone? Do you think the Windows 10 update to Microsoft’s phones will earn it a bigger market share in the coming year?

Windows Phone 8.1 offers a productive alternative to other operating systems; we will take the Windows 10 road further with future devices, hence reinforcing our broad line-up of products in the Windows eco-system.

Windows 10 represents a journey we are taking together with Microsoft. We are enthusiastic about the opportunity it presents for the entire ecosystem and for our mutual customers. 

What can your distributor, retailer and reseller partners expect from Acer on the marketing side throughout 2015? 

We have a multi-channel marketing strategy: Our aim is to emotionalise our products and strengthen brand values. 

In the consumer landscape we will continue with our integrated marketing approach, ensuring we are at every touch point on the consumer’s purchasing journey; advertising across OOH, digital, print and mobile, in-store theatre and experiential campaigns as well as expert sales training at store level to ensure customer satisfaction.

With our distribution and channel partners we will continue to improve our service levels and communication tools. 

We are revisiting our Acer Synergy partner programme and April will see the launch of a new Acer rewards programme for our channel partners. 

We will continue to engage and excite with a product portfolio that spans one-inch to 100-inch.

You launched a 4K G-Sync monitor last year. How well received was that and how important is the gaming market to Acer?

The 4K G model was very well received by the market. We see the gaming market as a key segment for Acer and have developed products such as the Aspire V Nitro for the casual gamer. 

Our R&D team is looking closely into this segment to understand the specific needs and requirements of the gaming user. We will for sure have key product launches over the coming months… watch this space.

The eSports sector is a hot property at the moment. Do you have any new plans for Team Acer or other sponsorships this year?

None that I can share at the moment, but the eSports sector is indeed a hot property right now and one we are very excited about integrating more fully into our gaming approach.

What’s next for Acer? 

To increase market share and continue to further establish ourselves in new markets such as Chromebooks and 2-in-1s, and continue to work closely with our partners and improve the consumer’s journey through the technology world.

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