Gibson Innovations tunes its ambitions as a music-lifestyle brand

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Gibson Innovations' Lierre (left) and Van Vianen.
Gibson Innovations' Lierre (left) and Van Vianen.

Recently acquired by the iconic guitar manufacturer, the Hong Kong firm has a broad portfolio and lofty goals

HONG KONG — Gibson Innovations, steward of the Philips consumer-electronics brand, wants to become the world's top music lifestyle company. In this exclusive interview, CMO Edwin Van Vianen and Sylvain Lierre, head of brand management and digital, talked to Campaign Asia-Pacific about the company’s multibrand future.

US-based Gibson Brands, which owns a wide range of music-related brands including the legendary guitar brand, acquired Hong Kong-based Woox Innovations, formerly the lifestyle entertainment division of Royal Philips, last June. The name change to Gibson Innovations, which became official this week, marks the beginning of a strategy for marketing not only Philips-branded products, but a suite of new brands.

In short, Gibson Innovations wants to become the world’s No. 1 "music lifestyle company." The Hong Kong-based firm will be responsible for branding and marketing a portfolio spanning audio, home cinema and video, headphones, smart home products, home communications and accessories.

"An electronics business is not the core strategy of Philips anymore," said Vianen, who has been with Philips since 1994. For the last two years, the company has been shifting to a more expansive position that addresses a range of needs and markets.  

This year Gibson Innovations is launching with a portfolio of brands. each of which focuses on a different group of consumers with specific needs and aspirations. Here’s a snapshot of those brands.

  • Philips Fidelio: A high-end audio product line with "innovative design."
  • Gibson: Gibson Innovations will bring the values of the acclaimed "architect of prestige guitars," which has a 120-year history and a reputation for the finest materials and workmanship, to consumer audio.
  • GoGear: A "fresh, energetic and fun" brand targeting consumers who are "young at heart and expect value for money." GoGear products, designed to stand out in use and in store, will include in-ear and headband headphones, as well as Bluetooth speakers.
  • Onkyo: In January, Gibson Brands and Onkyo entered into a comprehensive, long-term partnership that spans product development and distribution. The two companies are initially focusing on creating connected speakers and headphones under the Onkyo brand.
  • Trainer by Gibson: A new health-focused brand that captures the essence of Gibson’s heritage of "innovation, quality, design and technology." The first Trainer product is a pair of headphones that incorporates "innovations never before brought together in one device." Sprinter Usain Bolt has participated in the product development.

With a marketing team of 50 people, Gibson Innovations is centralized in Hong Kong but will work with product managers and local marketing teams in Asia and globally to deliver its products. "We have people in over 50 countries, reaching 150 countries for sales," Vianen said.

For Lierre, who has worked both agency- and client-side, the global marketing team has a big responsibility for ensuring that the brands are consistent globally and yet flexible enough to be adapted well at the local level.

"We don’t own all of these brands, but we’ve been given the keys to activate them," said Lierre. "So we’ve got to be super careful in how we work and especially in how we select agency partners."

"I think for some brands like Gibson, which are very iconic in a very specific field, we act as translators of that brand into a new world of consumer audio that it wasn’t part of before," said Lierre.

While Vianen is responsible for the overall marketing team across all elements and the end-to-end marketing implementation, Lierre leads brand management and digital and is driving Gibson Innovation’s multibrand strategy.

"It’s a very dynamic combination," said Vianen, laughing. "Music will not die, everyone loves music and consumption is only increasing. So if you say you’re in that market, the only limit is your imagination."

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