Audio Gadget Firm Edifier Makes a Difference

Edifier, designers of audio equipment like this Mondrian-inspired system, is looking to make a socio-economic difference.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

It’s not that difficult for major tech companies to blend their international business operations with various philanthropic and socially aware causes. But is it difficult for a smaller, emerging company to mix the growing of its 21st century business with a strong social conscious ness?

Edifier, a global designer and manufacturer of audio speaker products featuring contemporary design, is giving it a shot by publicizing a new cause online. Founded in Beijing in 1996 (with offices in Vancouver, Australia, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires), Edifier makes a regular splash at the Consumer Electronics Show every year. In 2012, they took home the CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award.

Employing more than 3,000 employees worldwide and producing more than 8 million units annually, Edifier is a technology company that owns its own factories, produces its own components and markets its products around the world.

Now, it’s Edifier’s recently announced the Edifier Cares Initiative that called attention to the company’s activist side. According to company announcements, a portion of product sales and a fixed quarterly donation to aid underfunded hospitals and caregivers globally. It begs a question for other companies looking to promote similar initiatives online: How and when should a company announce such an effort to maximize its exposure and positive impact?

According to Wendong Zhang, the company’s Founder & CEO, Edifier Cares focus its efforts on the Citta Hospital, in Humla, Nepal. Located in “a remote region of the Himalayas,” the Citta Hospital is headed up by Dr. Yeshe and his team of volunteers who care for thousands of Nepalese that otherwise would be unable to receive medical attention.  With the support of the Edifier Cares program, Citta Hospital has received medicine, medical equipment, roofing, nails, concrete and other building materials.

But, at what stage of the company's inception did the global awareness elements of its identity come into play?

“The big turning point globally has been our move to the Songshan Lake Industrial Park in Dongguan China where stringent environmental policies are imposed on any company wanting to locate there,” Zhang said. “That led us to focus on everything from recycling waste water and plastics, to the usage of LED lighting, solar panels and processes to reduce factory emissions.”

“For the factory workers, Edifier prides itself on having the highest standards for its workers (which is not always the case in Chinese manufacturing). Everything from an eight hour work days, to a variety of on-sight entertainment and sporting facilities.”

Of course, Edifier's competition might not engage in the same philosophy. That can make doing business for Edifier more difficult and empower competition that chooses to save costs.

Zhang disagreed: “No, as a matter of fact it adds to the Edifier story and helps to complete the picture for the consumer in terms of what they are really purchasing. Our recycling efforts combined with energy and resource saving measures actually reduce costs in many cases and thereby contribute to our ability to go to market with products whose performance and features exceed those of our “big name” competitors at lower comparable prices.”

“Another important aspect of our corporate culture is how we treat our workforce. Many people are surprised to hear that even with China’s enormous population it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and keep the level of skilled workers that we require. Therefore, we provide a work environment that is very worker friendly as well high quality on-site living and recreation facilities.”
Of course, that’s all a feel good story. But does Edifier promote their corporate conscience? In other words, how do they monetize it by appealing to consumers who share the concerns?

“To this point we have been pretty low-key about telling our story but with the new factory located in one of the most environmentally strict trade zones in the world it is time to let the secret out. China is going green and in a big way.”

In the end, Edifier hopes that an informed computer speaker or audio dock buyer presented with a few choices might opt for their products because he or she knows they came from a responsible source.