Chinese electronics, home appliances take on Europe

Chinese electronics, home appliances take on Europe
A stand markets TCL Corp at an exhibition in Beijing.

Chinese home appliances and electronics are increasingly gaining popularity among European consumers because of their price advantages and innovation.

Leading the way are major home appliance brands Haier and Hisense, television makers TCL and Changhong, and electronics producers Huawei, Lenovo and TP-Link.

But while Chinese high-tech products have long been stocked on store shelves across Europe, the difference with this new wave is that the aforementioned Chinese companies are not simply looking to fill a niche - they are taking on the mass market.

Experts say the wider acceptance of Chinese appliances and electronics in Europe signifies a fundamental shift in public opinion toward the "Made-in-China" stigma.

There are several reasons why these major Chinese companies are expanding into Europe: A saturation in China of companies making the same kinds of products and the decades of experiences that companies such as Haier and Hisense have had as original equipment manufacturers for large European companies.

OEMs typically produce a part or system that is used in another company's end product. Haier, whose headquarters are in Qingdao, Shandong province, supplied refrigerator parts for the British brand AGA Rangemaster.

Rene Aubertin, chief executive of Haier's European operations, says the experience manufacturing parts for brands in Europe helped the company understand the continent's consumers.

In 2010, the maker of televisions, refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers, smartphones and tablets began focusing on its own line of products in Europe after taking a 2004 dip in German waters with its low-cost products.

"We wanted to focus on our own branded products and gain market share through our designs, high product specifications, quality and innovation," Aubertin says.

To tackle the dominance of Bosch and Siemens, the largest manufacturer of home appliances in Europe, and the Swedish appliance maker Electrolux, Haier has gone to great lengths to innovate.

"Innovation is one of our core values," Aubertin says.

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