Acer: “The death of the PC was very exaggerated and 2020 proved it”

Acer is a company in transformation. Years ago it was labeled as “that of the Aspire”: today it sells ConceptD for professionals and creatives; Predator for gaming and Swift for those looking for an ultra-thin. According to Tiziana Ena, Acer marketing manager for Italy and Greece, this has enabled the company to transform itself like no other in the sector.

DDAY.it: What is the Acer product line that is best received in Italy?

Tiziana Ena: The mobility part is the predominant one because historically Acer is identified as a company that sells notebooks. Within the various categories and depending on the market segment to which you are addressing, there are models recognized according to the brands. Aspire is the mainstream product line and in recent years we have introduced brands such as Switft for ultra-thin, in the gaming part Predator and Nitro and recently also ConceptD.

Beyond the individual niches, does a line stand out more in terms of percentages?

Historically we have a very recognizability linked to the mainstream product. In recent years we have been trying to change our skin. The introduction of new brands goes in that direction. We no longer want to be the company of the Aspire line: we want to leave an Acer that is that of the Predator, the ConceptD, the Nitro. We are a price sensitive country and in a normal world the Aspire line is certainly the best seller; but that’s not what we’re aiming for.

The ConceptD line represented a vertical trend for professionals. Did it create greater awareness for the whole brand?

Yes, the company is very different now. I’ve been in the company for 13 years and when I joined Acer it was the mainstream product. Today Acer presents itself as a more lifestyle company, which aims at products that are very beautiful in design, functional and technological, also related to services. Surely ConceptD helped us, but before that also the Swift, which are the closest to the Aspire world.

Acer updates ConceptD notebooks: also with 4K screens and GeForce RTX 30 series graphics card

Go to the deepening

Thirteen years ago the notebook market was very different.

The company has been riding the market and has evolved a lot. Perhaps the one that more than all the others has evolved. The shapes of notebooks have changed, it is true, but as a mindset and internal mission I believe that we are the company that has most distorted its visibility on the market. And we’re not done yet: the process is still ongoing.

One of the most interesting commercial developments of the last year has been the great diffusion of Chromebooks. But they have existed for ten years: what factor has had the greatest impact on the great visibility they have recently had?

In 2011 Acer announced this product category globally. Today we are the vendor with the widest range of products. We turn to the education world, where the Chromebook was present, to the consumer and corporate world with form factors and characteristics different from them. First of all, Google’s willingness to enter our market heavily has changed. Last year, Italy was already expected to enter Google’s big launch program for the Chrome market. The pandemic has certainly contributed a lot. Together with Google we have invested resources and energy to make the product available, particularly on the shelves of retailers or online. The Italian market has gone from selling about 1,000 Chromebooks per quarter to 39,000 Chromebooks per year.

Tiziana Ena, Acer marketing manager for Italy and Greece

What percentage increase has Acer registered for Chromebooks?

Before, we basically did zero.

In short, it is a market that was born in Italy last year.

Yes, absolutely. We at the end of 2020 had a market share of 30% in Italy. The Chromebook remains a priority for us also for 2021. We have a higher average selling price than our competitors because we have an extended range.

E-commerce has grown a lot in 2020. Now the situation is normalizing: how important is the positioning and the way in which the product is actually presented on the retail market?

The retail world accounts for more than 70%. For the Italian market, the physical store is still the strong point towards the consumer. Online has certainly grown, but not as much as one could expect. When the store reopened, the attitude of the Italian consumer did not change that much. We are back on the physical. If 2020 closed with 33% of Internet sales, today we are on 26-27%. The consumer has returned to the old habit.

Has the disappearance of the often professed PC been exaggerated? In 2020 the PC was re-evaluated a lot after years of saying that smartphones and tablets would replace it.

For too long it has been thought that everything could be done with a phone or tablet, but the pandemic has made it clear that this is not the case and I believe this new awareness will remain. In Italy, the replacement of devices is slower than elsewhere. Many habits will change for the future too, especially linked to the corporate world: remote work, in some way, will remain. This requires that the person be provided with a quality workstation. I think that in this context the time that passes for the replacement of devices is destined to decrease.

An economic perspective of gaming notebooks in Italy?

It is a market that has grown and the mobility market has increased in value. According to GfK data, Acer sold 61% more gaming notebooks in 2020 than in 2019. In value, we grew by 66%.

Has the monitor, on the other hand, been re-evaluated in the desktop experience?

In my opinion not yet. Monitors were growing before the pandemic, but not enough. Recently, companies have bought notebooks for employees, but not monitors. I think over time you will realize that an optimal location also requires a certain monitor. Growth will continue for longer than the end of this pandemic period.

Is there a feature that, in particular, directs you to choose a notebook instead of another?

The size is an advantage for those who are often out and about. The player will look to see if there is the latest generation GPU or CPU. It is a question of users rather than of a general discourse. Obviously today notebooks are thinner, they are more powerful and lighter, they do more things than before.

The line of notebooks with LTE connectivity has never really developed. Why?

Some are there, but they are mostly professional. We have a product with the ability to connect in 5G. They are almost all professional because the cost of adding a slot is not cheap; therefore it arises as a need. I think this is the case because a consumer user is assumed to go to places, like bars, where Wi-Fi is. Basically, always being connected is a more discriminating factor than for those who need it on a professional level. For a consumer user it is something that is pleasant to have, but it must be the infrastructure that gives the opportunity to go in that direction.

Do you sell multiple notebooks or desktops?

More notebooks, with an aspect ratio of 70/30.

Was this historically the case?

A few years ago it was thought that desktops were dying altogether, instead they found their reason for being in some niches. Today we have achieved a certain stability. We have three categories of desktops: all-in-one, gaming and traditional. The traditional one, in my opinion, is dying; the all-in-one no and not even the gaming one. The all-in-one is an opportunity in terms of flexibility having computers and monitors in one device and hardcore gamers play on the desktop. As for the traditional one, however, the notebook is preferred. Companies are all moving in the direction of mobility. The desktop is a convenience for factories, machinery applications, fixed locations. It is privileged for environments and costs.

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