Still In Consumer Feedback Mode, Dell Launches New Brand

Continuing its strategy of strengthening its brand's bond with customers by creating new products and initiatives based on their ideas, Dell Inc. on Tuesday announced the creation of a new brand of desktop and notebook computers designed for small business with fewer than 25 employees.

Called Vostro, which means "yours" in Italian and Latin, the product line was announced at a town hall meeting in New York's Times Square by CEO Michael Dell, who told attendees that Vostro "changes the game for small-business owners by empowering them to choose the exact IT solutions they need to be successful."

The idea for Vostro was born of findings from a recent survey of small-business owners in 12 countries conducted by Dell and the International Council for Small Business. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they were limited by budget constraints to expand their IT resources, but all said they used technology to better serve their customers. Dell took that information and used it to develop Vostro's products--which currently include four notebooks, starting at $499, two desktops starting at $319, two printers and a monitor. The line will expand to include a performance desktop next month.

Vostro systems will be available with Windows Vista or XP operating systems but will come with little pre-installed software, like games and without "trialware"--sample versions of software that expire after a few weeks or months. They will have business tools such as data back-up systems and networking support.

Dell has hired about 6,000 employees to provide support for Vostro. It also has set up a Web site to promote Vostro at dell.com/webelieve, where it also offers resources for small businesses, including Dell Small Business 360, a community-oriented Web site featuring advice, how-to's, forums and articles on small businesses. The We Believe site also links visitors to Dell's IdeaStorm Web site.

The brainchild of Michael Dell upon his return to the CEO post this year, IdeaStorm is an online community where customers post their ideas about products. The community can vote on the ideas and discuss them with other users. More than 100,000 user posts have been made to IdeaStorm since its launch on Feb. 16, Cook said, and Dell has received over 5,000 unique, customer-generated ideas from IdeaStorm to date.

Dell already has implemented several ideas posted by customers to IdeaStorm, including the sale of Linux-loaded desktop and laptop machines, and continuing to offer Windows XP on consumer machines in addition to Windows Vista.

While Dell hasn't placed much focus on marketing or branding since Michael Dell has returned to office, IdeaStorm has given the company free marketing about the fact that they are listening to their customers, a message it has extended with its announcement about Vostro, the headline of which was "The Art of Listening: Dell Converts Customer Requests Into Exclusive Vostro Brand For Small Business."

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