Vizio Sees Leap In LCD TV Market Share

Its low-price strategy has enabled Vizio to outsell competitors Samsung and Sony in a weakened economic climate.
Vizio has skyrocketed to the leading position in the U.S. LCD TV market, as cash-strapped consumers snatch the company's low-cost sets from store shelves during the economic recession, a market research firm says.

The Irvine, Calif., company's share of the North American market in terms of units shipped rose to 21.6% in the first quarter, up 7.8% from the previous quarter, iSuppli reported on. The sales spurt pushed Vizio past previous leader Samsung.

While Vizio's low-price strategy has made it a top-selling LCD TV vendor for some time, the weak economy has given the vendor an extra boost.

"Since the onset of the economic downturn, Vizio's share has risen dramatically," iSuppli analyst Riddhi Patel said in a statement. "With budgets becoming increasingly tight, consumers are finding the company's inexpensive sets more alluring."

During the first quarter, Vizio's lowest average selling price for a 42-inch set was $850. At the same time, Samsung and Sony were selling 40-inch LCD TVs with the same configuration for $1,000 and $1,090, respectively.

When comparing higher-end 40- and 42-inch sets with faster refresh rates, Vizio came in $400 less than Samsung and Sony, at about $1,000.

Vizio first took the lead in the United States in the second quarter of 2007, only to see its share dwindle to 8.7% by the second quarter of 2008, iSuppli said. By the end of the first quarter of this year, the company's market share had risen two and a half times. Vizio toppled Sony from the No. 2 perch in February before sailing past Samsung.

Part of the reason for Vizio's success has been its strategy of maintaining low prices, while making its sets more competitive with premium brands such as Samsung and Sony. Another factor has been Vizio's use of big retailers to sell its sets, most notably Wal-Mart.

The top five market leaders, according to iSuppli, are Vizio, with a 21.6% share; Samsung, 19.9%; Sony, 16.6%; LG Electronics, 10.7%; and Sharp, 9.4%.

Overall, the LCD TV market has remained strong, despite the economic downturn. Shipments in the first quarter were 10.5% higher than in the same period a year ago, iSuppli said. Promotions and declining prices are responsible for the increase.

However, iSuppli late last year trimmed its forecast for LCD-TV shipments for all of 2009 to 20.5% more than in 2008, citing the poor economy.

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