LIVE FROM SEOUL: How do you solve a problem? Like Korea!
So the world is undergoing financial meltdown, and most consumer electronics companies are wringing their hands, battening down the hatches, lashing themselves to the masts and preparing to weather the storm.
So why are the guys in LG's Twin Towers HQ here in Seoul, which I visited today at the start of a two-week trip to Korea, smiling almost as much as their corporate logo?
Well, it seems they've analysed their target market segments, designed their products to suit them, crunched their numbers and come up with a rosy picture for the company's TV's business over the next couple of years. And that, the company says, puts it in a very strong position to solve the market problems worrying most of its main rivals.
Indeed, Morris Lee, Vice President of the company's LCD TV European Marketing team, says that what the rest of the world is seeing as a financial crisis, LG views as an opportunity.
"We have made tremendous progress in our global business," he says, "and also in Europe. We have a clear strategy to move forward with technology-driven products, and we have strong confidence of our 2009 business."
And the figures given by his colleagues certainly bear that out: while the European market for LCD TVs is expected to be around 30m units in 2009, and only rise to 31m in the following year, LG's plan is to raise its market share from the current 11%, both worldwide and in Europe, to 15% worldwide in 2010, and 16% in Europe.
It expects that growth to come from larger screens, as well as technological advances such as faster screen refresh rates, lower response times, Bluetooth/wireless connectivity and greater energy efficiency.
How's it done this? Well, it's segmented its customers into Premium Seekers - the home cinema buffs and technocompletists -, Brand Followers, Value Maximisers, Basic Watchers and TV Minimalists. And its 2009 TV range, to be rolled out early next year, will contain line-ups aimed at targeting each of those target segments.
But the company will continue to run LCD and plasma TV ranges side by side, seeing growing demand for plasma TVs across the size range, and the European market for plasma TVs moving ever closer to 5m units as we close in on the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Olympics. In this sector, too, the company will be targeting its segmented buyer profiles, and applying much of the same technological thinking it expects to keep its LCD business more than buoyant over the coming years.
Speaking to WHFSV after the main presentations were over and we toured the company's showroom (above), Lee agreed with me that there seems to be a trend for consumers to 'nest' in the current financial situation, diverting money they might have spent on a new car, a house move or a holiday to the purchase of home entertainment.
In fact, the company's sales are up 30% in value terms and 60% in volume year on year in both the UK and Europe.
And while his colleagues agreed that new technologies may be on the way, such as LED backlighting for LCD TVs and OLED displays, the message from the people at LG is that you shouldn't hold your breath waiting for existing TV technologies to be replaced.
For LG, the solution to the current situation is all about finding the market, and then building products to serve it as well as possible. And the Korean solution looks like it's going to pay off.