Taiwanese electronics companies, which have long been key suppliers to many foreign brands, should change their mindset, the founder of Acer Inc (宏碁) said last week.
They should not just supply components to companies like Apple Inc or Amazon.com Inc, but rather manufacture high value-added and user-friendly products to embrace customers themselves, ID SoftCapital Inc (智融集團) chairman Stan Shih (施振榮) said on Tuesday.
Domestic electronics firms must also recognize global trends and explore new niche markets in the Greater China area, said Shih, while launching the Chinese Consumer Center (CCC, 龍吟研論) in Taipei.
The non-profit CCC — which Shih co-founded with Bernd Schmitt, a professor from the Columbia Business School in New York and professor Bei Lien-ti (別蓮蒂) from National Chengchi University’s College of Commerce — is aimed at improving the nation’s global competitiveness and helping provide local firms with a better understanding of Chinese-speaking customers.
“Taiwan does not lack talented workers, but a platform for them to make innovative products. Having learned that Singapore’s government spent US$64 million to establish Asian Consumer Insight to analyze regional markets in Asia, as well as Asian consumers, I perceived that we urgently need to establish an institute to study Chinese people’s purchasing behaviors, which are key factors relating to any kind of products made in Taiwan,” Shih said.
Shih stated that the institute would serve as a consultancy, offering market insights for Taiwanese companies to provide them with guidance in making products that can clearly distinguish them from the competition.
So far, five Taiwanese corporations — Acer, Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團), Lion Travel Service Co Ltd (雄獅旅行社), Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋) and Nan Shan Life Insurance Co (南山人壽) — have agreed to provide funding of NT$1.5 million (US$51,300) per year for CCC to support the center’s research and development projects.
“Our goal is to collaborate with 10 leading companies from different business sectors in Taiwan to help advance their competitiveness in the market. Specifically, we aim to analyze consumers’ purchasing behaviors as well as their lifestyles and customer values, and will then use that information to help companies develop new products,” Bei said.
CCC said it will invite consumer behavior experts and experts to conduct market analysis and related research. CCC said its preliminary plan is to collaborate with 10 companies in the first three years.
“Customer insight is increasingly important for companies. In order to be world class, corporations need to understand customers, not just your products and technologies. You need in-depth customer insights,” Schmitt said in short clips recorded prior to the launch ceremony.
Shih said it was never too late to start consumer research.
“Taiwanese firms shouldn’t just follow US and European corporations. We should rather develop value-added products that can be leaders in Asian markets, and most importantly develop our own brands,” he said.