US Robotics' regional office takes on grey market

US Robotics has announced that it is close to resolving the problem of the grey market in its products in the Middle East. The company says that setting up an office, in Dubai, has helped it understand the market much better and so devise ways to persuade people to buy the local stock from it.

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By  Guy Mathew Published  January 22, 2002

US Robotics has announced that it is close to resolving the problem of the grey market trading in its products in the Middle East. The company says that setting up an office, in Dubai, has helped it understand the market much better and so devise ways to persuade people to buy the local stock from it. The main way it did this is by revising its pricing and the company plans to introduce Arabic packaging in the very near future.

“Resellers and users prefer not to buy products overseas because they want support and continuity,” said Yusuf Syed, marketing manager for the Middle East and India. “When they do buy from the grey market, it is often because they are after a certain product or feature that is not marketed in the region. Our ultimate aim, and that of our channel, is to keep the end-user well supplied; and now we have formed adequate channel strategies and pricing we need to make the adjustments that will ensure all US Robotics users can buy products and receive support locally.” he continued.

The office was set up in April of last year to help build the relationship with distributors and resellers and capitalise on those partnerships to drive legitimate sales. The new prices took effect almost immediately and the next moves are towards customising some products for the region. In light of the company’s excellent performance in Q4 (160% growth in the region) the tactic seems to have worked.

John Rea, sales manager for MEA and Asia, Pacific Rim (APR) explained the importance of the channel to USR: “We area 100% channel-based organisation so we’ve no sales force of our own. We are completely dependent on our channel for their sales of our products. More importantly we have given them complete responsibility for marketing. I have taken my entire marketing budget and given it to our distributors in country and said: You know what’s best. We try not to proscribe some sort of marketing mix which might be of no value to them at all.”

“The market dynamics are not the same in every country. Users in some countries may require a small feature that others do not need because some markets are more mature than others or because internet regulations are not the same everywhere. That certainly makes the market interesting and is the reason why it is so important that our customers be properly serviced by the USR channel,” said Mahmoud Samy, regional sales manager for North Africa, Levant and Eastern Mediterranean.

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