... And why parents will boldly go to Tesco

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PARENTS are likely to encounter plenty more of the "pester power" identified by McCann-Erickson after a deal between Siemens, the German electronics group, and Tesco, the supermarkets group that has just been named Britain's most admired company for the second time in three years.

The deal gives Tesco an exclusive distribution licence for a personal computer package themed to tie in with the release of the film Star Trek: Insurrection. Since the PC comes complete with a headset that is claimed to be "the world's first infra-red head-activated joystick", it is clear that the product is being aimed at the young computer games enthusiast.

But Alan Norman, marketing director for Siemens Computer Systems, sees it as a powerful way of increasing the level of PC ownership in the UK. Pointing out that the penetration of 20 to 30 per cent of the population is about half of that in the United States, he said that selling a computer through a well-known retailer in a package that could just be plugged in like any other household appliance would make information technology more accessible.

He and his colleagues are arguing that consumers will feel comfortable buying a product put together by Europe's leading computer company and sold through what is perhaps the best-regarded name in the high street. Moreover, as a company that has restructured itself to reflect the growing convergence of computers and telecommunications, Siemens sees clear benefits in an arrangement that is likely to promote greater take-up of the internet and related developments.

Priced at just below pounds 800, the package incorporates the Siemens Xpert PC bundled with a popular Microprose Star Trek game and Microsoft's Home Essentials suite of applications, including word processing, Encarta atlas and other tools for the whole family.

Andrew Humphries, business development manager with Siemens Computer Systems, said: "We have brought together the best hardware and software on the market from Intel, Microsoft and Microprose and created a computer experience that the whole family will enjoy at an extremely affordable price."

Tesco will initially sell the package at about 60 stores in Britain. The company was last week commended for its capacity to innovate when receiving the Most Admired Company award in the annual survey published by Management Today in association with TSC Europe.

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