Mio Technology Corporation
Satellite Navigation Brought Down to Earth
Mio Technology's GPS devices have maintained a firm hold on the hearts and minds of Taiwan's consumers with innovative services and a unique interactive Web site.
Satellite Navigation Brought Down to EarthBy Benjamin Chiang
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 412 )
In Taiwan's fiercely competitive market for computer, communication and consumer electronic products, few companies have been able to match the sustained success of Mitac International Group subsidiary Mio Technology Corporation.
Its GPS (global positioning system) navigational devices have been the industry leaders in Taiwan for five consecutive years, holding off the world's two biggest mobile navigation device makers, Garmin and TomTom, and more than 10 other local brands to consistently command a 50-percent share of the Taiwanese market. And the Taiwan-based company has maintained its dominance despite selling devices with the same specifications as its competitors' models for twice as much.
In 2008 alone, Mio Technology's 10-man local sales office has generated more than NT$600 million in revenues on the sale of over 70,000 navigation devices.
The key to the company's ability to attract customers is its dedication to "sustaining the brand, which means helping customers create value and solve problems," stresses Liao Sheng-fu, the head of Mio Technology's domestic sales office.
Mapping technology and satellite navigation software form the core of the competitiveness of the GPS devices, and the company excels in both areas, with an emphasis on software.
"The accuracy and periodic updating of maps are simply basic functions for branded GPS vendors. Mio Technology devotes even more effort to providing services to customers," Liao says.
GPS: A Guide to Better Living
Liao, who once worked in China as a marketing executive for a branded cell phone corporation, says in-depth and theme-based tourism have started to emerge as the hottest tourism models in Taiwan, trends that his company fully intends to exploit.
Keeping its fingers on the pulse of consumers, Mio Technology aggressively generates its own buzz within the chaotic market by creating GPS functions that serve as guides to living and travel. The company was the first to partner with travel magazines and devise an electronic travel guide that catered to the expanded weekend travel market.
It produced, for instance, a Valentine's Day guide to the top 20 places to take a date in Taipei and an electronic guide to Taiwan's top hot springs for the winter season, both of which combined satellite navigation with photos of tourist attractions, background information, cultural overviews, and addresses and phone numbers of shops in the area. This information on places to eat, drink, and have fun can all be uploaded into the GPS. All consumers have to do is download the package from the Internet to their memory cards.
In 2004, Liao began working with county and city governments to promote in-depth tourism in Taiwan's towns and villages, producing electronic travel guides to events such as the Baihe Lotus Festival in Tainan County and Taipei's Beef Noodle Festival.
"The software services that Mio offers are difficult for its competitors to match," says Cheng Chien-hsing, a taxi driver who uses a Mio Technology navigation device.
Key to Mio Technology's success is that it perfects navigational services that have previously proven to be less than satisfactory, consequently strengthening the attachment of consumers to the company's brand.
It invested NT$10 million, for example, to link up with radio stations around Taiwan to provide a real-time traffic message channel (TMC).
"We rely on the real-time TMC to notify the GPS wherever there's a traffic jam. The GPS will then automatically avoid roads where the traffic is heavy and recommend alternative routes to motorists," Liao says.
TMC also provides information on the weather, parking garages, special offers at nearby gas stations, and even details on room availability and pricing at nearby Holiday KTVs.
In the Web 2.0 era, which stresses interaction and information swapping, many GPS users enjoy sharing their travel experiences with others, another trend the company has capitalized on.
When Mio Technology began offering navigational devices under its own brand name in 2003, it simultaneously created a members-only Mio Club on its website. The travel journal section became the Mio Club's most visited interactive feature, as members posted their travelogues online.
Member-based Services Fuel Desire to Purchase
In August 2007, it launched a "scenic spot introduction" function on the members-only portal that has amassed 2,571 entries in the past 16 months. The content covers places as diverse as historical sites, Italian restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and museums.
Overall, these services have made the Mio Club a hit, drawing 270,000 members in its six years of existence. More importantly, many members, who had never purchased any of the company's products before joining, were later enticed by the club's member services and ended up buying a Mio brand navigational device.
At the beginning of this year, Mio Technology injected its brand with a broader vision, telling consumers to "explore more," with a series of new navigational devices that were ready to "take people to explore Taiwan's beauty," Liao explains.
The goal of the "explore more" campaign was to grab "mind share" among local consumers by using Taiwan's own stories to strengthen its brand image.
"The number-one company absolutely cannot afford any missteps. It must always meticulously satisfy customer's needs," Liao stresses.
Branding is a road on which there is no turning back. At a time when the economy is in the doldrums, Mio Technology has realized that only by deepening the roots of their brands can companies maintain their power to pull in customers.
Translated from the Chinese by Luke Sabatier
Mio Technology, Taiwan Sales Office
Year established: 2002
Taiwan market share: 50%
2008 sales volume: More than 70,000 GPS devices
2008 revenues: More than NT$600 million
Chinese Version: 宇達電通Mio GPS 從衛星導航 變生活大師