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Price • Origin
The End of the Asia Marketeer?
Vigo Industries is an Asia Marketeer — an importer of fair to good quality, relatively inexpensive faucets from various Asian manufacturers that it sells retail in North America, primarily through internet outlets, under its own brand name.
There are a great many Asia Marketeers in the U.S. today — over two dozen, up from three in 1999. About half of all the faucet companies selling in North America are Asia Marketeers, yet they account for only 6-8% of faucet sales.
The market segment is already very crowded and will likely get more crowded in the future as as new Marketeers enter the market, and as large Chinese factories introduce their own retail brands into North America. Asia Marketeers can also expect rapidly growing direct competition from Chinese-based internet retailers selling their own brands of Asian made faucets directly to North American consumers through Asian-based English language retail sites on the internet.
We think the model is already starting to show signs of unraveling, and the problems for Asia Marketeers will only increase over the next decade. There is a good likelihood that many of the Asia Marketeers like Vigo will fail.
Why is that important to you as a faucet owner? Simple. If you buy an Vigo faucet and the company then goes under, your faucet is orphaned. There is no more warranty support and no parts supply for your faucet, so if it breaks, you are completely on your own.
To read more, go to
Problems with the Marketeer Model.
Vigo Industries, L.L.C.
320 Mill Road
Edison NJ, 08817
(Below North American Standard)
Founded in 2009 by Leonid Valdberg, the company is an importer of Chinese-made bathroom and kitchen products that are branded and sold under the Vigo name.
Vigo products are contemporary and stylish but not cutting edge. Chinese faucet designs tend to be three to five years behind the Western designers. Its prices, however, are generally 30% to 50% below similar faucets from European and U.S. companies. Its low prices and contemporary styling are the primary reasons it has spread so widely across the internet in such a short time. It quickly outgrew its original warehousing and shipping facilities and has recently moved to larger facilities in Edison, N.J.
Vigo offers faucets for kitchen and bath, and sinks and accessories to coordinate with its faucets. It is somewhat unique as a faucet company in that all of its faucets are single handle. The company offers no two handle faucets for either kitchen or bath. The mixing cartridge used in many Vigo faucets appears to be from Sedal Technical Ceramics, a cartridge maker chartered in Spain, but manufacturing in China. The Sedal cartridge is generally considered good, but not great, and is commonly found in faucets made in China.
Vigo sources from a variety of Chinese suppliers. In addition to faucets, it buys sinks, vanities and accessories, so it is not always possible to determine which supplier is a source for faucets. Our information gleaned from customs and certification records indicates that Vigo's faucet suppliers are Chinese companies including
• L.S.H. Faucet Co., a Chinese manufacturer that has only recently begun selling faucets in the U.S. under its own L.S.H. brand, primarily through theThe faucets are, for the most part, straight out of each manufacturer's , and are neither designed nor manufactured expressly for Vigo. In fact, many of the faucets sold by Vigo are also sold by other vendors in the U.S., and both of Vigo's known faucet manufacturers sell at least some faucets retail under their own brand names in other parts of the world. However, According to a company source, Vigo has started working with its manufacturers to design its own exclusive faucets and about 1/3rd of the sink faucets in Vigo's lineup are now designed and manufactured just for Vigo.
• Kaiping Promise Plumbing Co, Ltd., an established Chinese supplier of faucets for the North American market, and
• Weixiang Sanitary Ware Co., Ltd., a long-time supplier of components to Brasstech, Inc., the manufacturer of Newport Brass faucets.
All Vigo faucets are available in bright chrome or stainless steel. Some bath faucets are finished in brushed nickel, but no kitchen facets. Some bath faucets are offered in one of two shades of bronze, but only one kitchen faucet is available in bronze. Vigo warrants all of its finishes for the lifetime of the faucet's original "owner or end user".
The Vigo web site is well-organized, with intuitive navigation and a product search function that is easy to use and accurate. The information provided about each faucet includes its certifications, finishes, flow rate, ADA compliance, and dimensions. Installation instruction are downloadable in .pdf format, and these usually include a dimensioned scaled drawing — useful for determining whether a faucet will fit your bathroom or kitchen, and a trouble-shooting guide, but not a parts diagram, which would be very useful if something on the faucet breaks.
In the past, Vigo has had problems with honoring its warranty and post-sale customer support, resulting in an unusually high number of complaints to the Better Business Bureau. This appears to be turning around under the direction of the company's new technical support manager. The company has applied for and received accreditation by the BBB, and has brought its rating up to an "A-" on a scale of "A+" to "F", quite an astounding reversal.
In our customer support and technical service tests, the company essentially aced everything except long hold times. We consider anything over 3 minutes excessive, and over 10 minutes unacceptable. A company spokesman indicated that Vigo is in process of adding staff to the customer service program, which should reduce hold times to an acceptable level.
Vigo's "Limited Lifetime Warranty" guarantees only some parts of its faucets for a lifetime. It guarantees the cartridge valves for just 5 years from the date of purchase (not the date of installation), and spray assemblies for a paltry one year. Only the non-moving metal parts of the faucet are guaranteed for the lifetime of the original owner. These are the parts least likely to break. Vigo also requires that all faucet installation be done by "fully insured licensed professionals". If you install it yourself, the warranty "does not apply" (unless, of course, you happen to be a "fully insured licensed professional"). The warranty does not specify any particular licensed profession, so presumably if you are a fully insured licensed manicurist, you are qualified to install Vigo faucets, and the company's warranty will apply.
The business about requiring a professional to install Vigo faucets for the warranty to apply is just a little bit too tricky. If these kinds of unusual restrictions are imposed on a warranty, they should be brought to the attention of a potential customer before the sale, not after getting home and opening the box. We complained about the requirement in 2011 and were told by a Vigo spokesman that the company does not actually enforce the requirement of installation by a licensed professional. But, if that is indeed the case, why have the requirement at all? Vigo can recommend that a faucet be installed by a licensed plumber, but requiring it as a condition of warranty coverage is a bit over the top. There must be some reason for it, however, at least in the minds of company management.
A warranty can be a powerful marketing tool, something that companies like understand very well. But Vigo is apparently unable to grasp its potential to boost sales. The company is myopically focused on lowering its warranty liability to the irreducible minimum — definitely the bean-counter's perspective
The 5-year Vigo cartridge warranty suggests that the company has doubts about the longevity and durability of its faucet cartridges, perhaps the most critical component of a faucet. The Chinese-made cartridges Vigo uses are actually fairly good cartridges, made in China by Sedal S.L.U., not the world's best, but certainly not the world's worst either, and Vigo should have a little more faith in them than its warranty suggests — or use a different cartridge in its faucets. But, if the company believes that its cartridges will last just 5 years, then you as the potential buyer have to assume that the company knows something about the cartridges that you don't, and perhaps you should be just a little wary.
We think that five year's of warranty support for what is supposed to be a lifetime product is just not enough, and the company lost points in our scoring for its sub-standard cartridge warranty and its requirement that the faucets be installed by a licensed professional to escape voiding the warranty altogether.
The short term cartridge warranty also suggests that Vigo does not plan to stock a large number of this critical part for discontinued models, so if your cartridge fails after 5 years, there is a good chance that Vigo will not have the parts to fix it. A company spokesman has assured us, however, that Vigo does, in fact, have a well-organized and in-depth replacement parts program which can supply needed parts for the foreseeable future, including parts for discontinued models.
We also have to be a little concerned about the viability of this new company over the long term. Vigo is an Asia-Marketeer — an importer of Chinese-designed and -manufactured faucets which it sells under the Vigo nameplate. Other Asia-marketeers such as to name just a few among many, all follow roughly the same business model. The cost of starting a business to import Chinese faucets and other sanitary wares is relatively low. No substantial investment in factories or machinery is needed. All that is required is a warehouse and a good marketing plan. The established Asia-Marketeers and vigorous newcomers such as are in hot pursuit of Vigo's market share, adding to the competitive pressure in a relatively small market segment.
One of the original China importers, FSA Imports, seller of the defunct faucet brand, has already folded, and over the next few years we expect more Asia importers to go under as competition increases substantially.
Some of this new competition could very well come from the Chinese factories themselves. was the first of the large Chinese manufacturers to penetrate the retail market in North America in a big way with its brand of good to excellent quality faucets, and is the road map for how to do it. It won't be the last. already a major player in the U.S. plumbing fittings market, seems poised to expand into decorative fixtures in the next few years, and a manufacturer located in Jiangsu, China, has opened a customer support center in the U.S. and started selling its well-regarded mid-priced faucets in the U.S. and Canada through the Home Depot and internet venues such as Amazon.
We also expect the rapid spread of China-based retailers on the Internet. So far, the Chinese have been largely content just to provide products to North American-based retailers who understand how to market to consumers in the U.S. and Canada. But, Chinese e-tailers already serve the world's largest and most competitive e-commerce market, and are looking to expand into Europe and North America where the competition is less fierce and the profit margins considerably greater.
LightInTheBox Holdings started out selling discounted wedding gowns in 2008, and is still heavily skewed toward women's wear, but has steadily broadened its offerings to include items such as faucets and bath wares at very favorable prices. FaucetSuperDeal.com already sells a variety of Chinese-manufactured faucets internationally at some very low prices. Both of these China-based e-tailers are just getting started, and have a lot to learn about selling faucets in North America. For example, neither offers a warranty of any kind other than a promise to replace the faucet if defective on delivery, and none of the faucets offered is certified to comply with the legal standards required for the U.S./Canadian market. But, they will get better, and if they can hold their prices, they may make a lot of of trouble for U.S.- and Canadian-based Asia-Marketeers.
This is of concern to you as a faucet buyer for this reason: A faucet seller that is out of business is no longer a source of warranty support or replacement parts. Your faucet is, in effect, orphaned.
On the plus side, however, Vigo appears focused on improving quality and seems to be making the effort to weed out problem products. For this reason we upgraded the company one point in last year's ratings. We think this focus is going to produce good results eventually, but it often takes a few years to have much impact on the overall quality of a faucet line. Vigo is also making a belated but serious effort to improve its after-sale support. But, the company is still missing some of the basics of a good after-sale support program, including parts diagrams for some of its faucets, and instructions on how to remove and replace cartridges, hoses, etc. — those parts most likely to break and need replacement.
China- and Taiwan-made faucets comparable to Vigo include If you have had an experience with a Vigo faucet, — good, bad or indifferent — that you would like to share, please contact us or leave a comment below.