CoolerMaster has a lot of SKUs -- almost too many, one could argue -- and the company has found that consumers have been bogged down and confused by the sheer number. They've struggled to understand where a given product fits into the stack. Is this high end? Low end? Why is it priced this way? And so on.
"Cooler Master has a key strength in the industry in that it owns many of its own factories," a company representative told us. "This means Cooler Master is able to produce products and make changes much faster, and easier, than other companies in this industry can do. This has allowed us to make all kinds of products for specific requests and needs from different customers, but that has lead to us releasing some product that didn't quite make sense for the marketplace."
To its credit, CoolerMaster has been paying attention to its customers' feedback and will be rolling out some changes as to how it classifies its many products. Simply put, all of its products will be grouped into one of three categories (the marketing terms are CoolerMaster's, not ours):
· Essential - The Bare Necessities· Mainstream - Everything You Need· Performance - Room to Expand
The "Essentials" level is fairly self-explanatory; these are just the basics, entry-level parts that are budget-friendly. CoolerMaster said the next-step-up "Mainstream" level would include items such as 240 mm radiators, backlit mechanical keyboards, and so on.
The "Performance" tier is for power users who are looking to do more with their builds. Products at this level might include CoolerMaster's Vapor Chamber technology or items with macro programming capabilities.
This new way of positioning its products will roll out later this year, probably around Computex, but we got a look at how CoolerMaster is breaking down the product lines during our CES visit.
For example, take a look at the company's current CPU air coolers, which is just one slice of its large product stack. There's the V Series, Hyper Series, GeminII Series, Vortex Series, X Dream Series, and a couple of "Blizzard" products.
You can sort of guess by how the various series are stacked on the page which ones are for what, but only sort of. Should you roll with the Hyper Series, or the GeminII? The Vortex Series, or the X Dream? Even within a given series, you have to really dig around to figure out which SKU is best for X or Y purpose. Oy, oy, oy.
It's true that a little reading will shed light on what you really need for your build, but it's currently needlessly complicated. CoolerMaster gets that.
When CoolerMaster rolls out its new format, you'll be able to drill down to what you need faster and more simply. If you want an air cooler for a basic tower, the company will show you that a performance-tier option is the V8 GTS; mainstream options include the Hyper 612 V2, Hyper D92 or Hyper 212 EVO; and essentials-level options include the Hyper T3, Hyper TX3 and Hyper T2.
The company will also break down products according to more specified purposes. For example, the above list is of "tower" coolers. If you want a "top down" cooler, there's another list entirely.
Why are we bothering to tell you all this? For one thing, simply as a PSA, now you have a heads-up if you're planning to buy anything from CoolerMaster in a few months. Further, although we're not interested in parroting marketing spiels for anyone, we can appreciate that CoolerMaster is paying attention to what its customers want and is adjusted things accordingly.
Smart, healthy companies pay attention to customer feedback. It's something of a canary in a coal mine.