For as long as there have been TVs, there have been brand names that leap out at you in stores.  Sure they have changed over the years, but you always felt comfortable with certain brands because you knew them.  All of that got turned on its ear back in 2007 when the relatively unknown Vizio somehow leapt into the top position of the television manufacturing industry by selling 606,402 in the second quarter of that year.  That was a 76 percent jump from the previous quarter, and the second place company at that time, Samsung, sold only 467,210 units.

vizio55What happened?  How did such a new company, one that had only been founded in 2002, beat out the likes of Sony and Samsung?  The answer is two-fold, and fairly obvious: pricing and availability.

It was around this time in 2007 that Vizio struck a deal with Walmart, Sears, K-Mart and the now defunct Circuit City,  that placed the brand in front of millions more consumers.  The brand was so prominently displayed at Walmart stores that I remember actually wondering if it was a house brand at the time.  The company also struck deals with the warehouse clubs Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart, and Costco that even saw the brand expand into Japan.

The biggest key to the success was probably the price.  Just like the infamous “Apple Tax” which sees you paying a hefty price to own something with the company’s name on it, the same is true of Sony.  When a Vizio was places next to a Sony TV of the same size and resolution, and you saw the price differential between the two, consumers on a budget were far more likely to go with the Vizio.

So, that was all in 2007, how is the company doing now?  Well, according to iSuppli, Vizio shipped 5.9 million LCD TVs in 2009, a jump of 92.1 percent over 2008, and far outstripping the overall market growth of 29 percent.  This catapulted the company into the top LCD TV set manufacturer spot, up from third place in 2008.  When combined with sales of Plasma televisions, Samsung was the winner for all flat-panel TVs, but in the realm of LCDs, Vizio is the king.

And it isn’t just on price that Vizio is winning.  The other companies have begun to lower their prices to compete, while Vizio has become a trusted brand.  According to a blog post from Consumer Reports in May 2009, Vizio was now the number one brand in the LCD market, and a fairly reliable one also.

Was it just pricing and location that lead to Vizio being the new king?  Or was it a confluence of those two factors along with the increased demand for HD televisions?  Who knows, but what is a given is that it looks like the Vizio brand name will be with us for some time to come.