|Logitech Korea Country Manager Yoon Jae-young speaks during an interview with The Korea Times at the brand's showroom in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Aug. 28. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
Leading PC peripherals maker eyes growth in B2B market in Korea
By Nam Hyun-woo
Four months ago, PC and mobile peripherals titan Logitech appointed Yoon Jae-young as the company's head of Korea, a country crowded with avid tech enthusiasts thus being one of the company's most important markets.
Yoon's appointment drew keen attention at the time as the Canada- and England-educated businessman was new to the IT industry. He served as Asia senior managing director at chocolate maker The Hershey Company and Head of Trade Marketing & Distribution at British American Tobacco (BAT) Korea, but has no background in the highly competitive tech sector.
During his first media interview with The Korea Times, Yoon said his sales and marketing background in different industries will help boost Logitech's double-digit growth in Korea.
"Logitech had grown for 35 years on the back of the growth of PC sales. Around 10 years ago, with the global recession which brought a PC sales slowdown, Logitech reinvented itself to be able to support cloud services and now its ambition is being a multi-brand and multi-category design company leading the cloud peripherals industry," Yoon said. "And my previous background in different industries will complement Logitech's growth in Korea."
Logitech is one of the largest PC accessory companies in the world after building its current status with computer mice and keyboards. The Switzerland-headquartered company is the No. 1 mouse maker in the world, its sales reaching $2.79 billion for the fiscal year 2019.
Though Yoon and the company did not reveal its earnings in Korea, Logitech is assumed to be retaining a similar market status here, as he said the company has been posting double-digit growth for the past several years. And Yoon said his job is maintaining the momentum so that the company's growth can overcome the base effect.
"The Korean market is extremely important for Logitech," Yoon said. "For example, Logitech in Korea was part of a cluster a few years back. But it's now a standalone market, because of the performance of Logitech Korea and because of the innovation here -- not only Logitech but also other companies think of Korea as an innovation test market."
He said Korean consumers' high online connectivity and demand for high-end products help the company to collect meaningful feedback, which is funneled back to the headquarters and reflected into the company's new products.
One Logitech product which reflected Korean consumers' feedback is the Multi-Device Keyboard, which connects to PC, smartphone, tablet and other devices simultaneously and allows the user to switch between them.
"As Logitech leads various device trends ranging from keyboards, mice, headsets, videoconferencing and presenters, targeting the Korean market and its consumers who demand high-quality products and levels is an important challenge for Logitech," he said.
|Logitech Korea Country Manager Yoon Jae-young introduces the Logitech Connect portable videoconference cam during an interview with The Korea Times at the brand's showroom in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Aug. 28. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
Beyond PC accessories
As the IT market moves away from PCs and heads fast toward a mouse-less world, however, Logitech is also striving to accelerate its entry into other categories.
Though the PC peripherals are still the company's main products, Logitech CEO Bracken Darrell said in March that PCs are "just another collecting device for cloud services" adding the company reduced investments in its PC peripherals business by 75 percent and refocused on "new things" such as gaming and video collaboration.
In part of the efforts, Logitech acquired multiple IT companies in recent years, such as wireless earphone company Jaybird in 2016, console headset company Astro Gaming in 2017 and consumer mic company Blue Microphones last year.
"The only way you can actually grow within a declining industry is to gain market share. Versus at Logitech, since it's operating across different industries. For example, when the growth in PC peripherals softens, then there's another category where Logitech is well positioned, such as music or esports which is exploding globally," Yoon said. "And even in the industries with softening growth, Logitech is increasing its market share."
He said the next category for Logitech and Logitech Korea is business-to-business (B2B) sales for videoconferencing devices, by offering price-competitive models.
"Our videoconferencing products are about one-tenth of the cost of the comparable offers out in the market, and they are for small and midsize rooms where in most corporations there is no video collaboration technology installed," Yoon said. "That's a big category that the company is focusing on."
He said Koreans are very receptive to new technologies and digital gadgets, but the country's videoconferencing market is relatively untapped, giving the company an opportunity to expand its presence.
One of the eye-catching videoconferencing devices was the Logitech Connect, which is a portable conference cam and speakerphone module compatible with most videoconferencing applications.
On the company's sales strategy for the fast-growing market for accessories for mobile phones and tablet PCs, Yoon said Logitech's acquisition of Jaybird is one example showing the company's efforts to expand its mobile portfolio.
"The company's strategy of becoming a cloud-based peripheral giant opens up many possibilities around mobile experiences as well," he said, adding the company has released multiple accessories for iPad.
|Logitech Korea Country Manager Yoon Jae-young poses with the brand's gaming gears during a League of Legends Champions Korea match in Seoul, Aug. 31. Courtesy of Logitech Korea|
'Nike and Adidas of esports'
After taking the job of leading Logitech Korea, Yoon was tasked with one important homework assignment ― learning computer games from his middle school student son.
This is because one of the main business pillars of Logitech is esports ― the company has two gaming specialized brands of Logitech G and Astro Gaming which provide mice, keyboards, headsets, wheels and controllers specialized for high-performance gaming.
"I'm new to IT and to be completely honest, I'm not a gamer," Yoon said, adding he planned to attend his first League of Legends Champions Korea and Overwatch Contenders Korea matches held on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. Logitech is one of the main sponsors of the competition.
"But what I can tell you is that Logitech's aspiration is to become like the Nike or Adidas of esports, which is one of the largest-viewed sports categories now globally."
As he said, a growing number of gamers are curious about the gear their favorite star players use and do not hesitate to spend money on costly high-performance but costly gear -- similar to football fans purchasing the same Nike or Adidas shoes or jerseys their favorite players are wearing.
"As for gaming, Logitech Korea has a very strong position in the domestic market -- stronger than general devices," Yoon said. "We believe in esports and the industry's certain future as the next mainstream sports obsession and we're focused on making that future a reality."
|Logitech Korea's showroom in Yongsan-gu, Seoul / Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|