Lexmark outlines mainland strategy

Frank Hou is not taking the tried approach of fund infusion to spark a marketing campaign in China.

'In China, I know a company that spent a lot of money, but compared with the budget they spent, their sales are not very good,' Mr Hou, the new marketing manager for printer company Lexmark's greater China division, said.

'If sales are not ready, no matter how much money I spend on marketing, it is useless.' Mr Hou recently moved from Taiwan where he was in charge of channel marketing, to take over the position in Hong Kong. He has a strong track record with Lexmark, a company spun off from IBM five years ago.

After earning his MBA degree from Iowa State University in the United States, he worked at Lexmark for two years before transferring to Digital as a product manager.

In 1995, Mr Hou returned to Lexmark's Taiwan office as sales and marketing manager.

It was largely due to his success in creating connections that has brought Lexmark's Taiwan market share close to 10 per cent. Now, the company hopes to see him do the same with greater China.


'Today, Chinese question who Lexmark is,' he said. 'They buy the product names that they know. If a new brand comes out, they are very hesitant.' Mr Hou said that localisation in China would be key to Lexmark's success as the Chinese government was 'very keen' on the policy.

Initial preparations, such as translating manuals, are underway. The next stage is to localise driver connections so the printer speed, now unable to interact with Windows, works with the Chinese version of the program.

Mr Hou plans to foster relationships much as he did in Taiwan.

'My major function is to take care of channel strategies and channel issues,' he said.


'Chinese vendors and consumers do not care so much about the price point, specs or features, they are more concerned with company culture.' IBM's plans to move back into the printing business (the spin off included a five-year non-competitive clause, which has ended) worried him initially, but Mr Hou said Lexmark's technically driven printers would hold their own.