Following a huge investment in the latest CE technologies in 2010, in the current year Sony plans to consolidate its market position by educating consumers about new lifestyle-enhancing products and services, such as connected television. Anna Ryland reports.
At the company’s annual trade show, held in Scotland, Andy Benson, Sony’s commercial director, said that during the coming months Sony will focus on helping customers to adopt the latest technologies.
He also confirmed that the company will continue implementing its Selective Distribution Strategy which rewards brick and mortar retailers who educate their customers about Sony’s leading technologies using in-store demonstration. The company will continue mystery shopping its retail partners, and will closely tailor its product range to the needs and expectations of customers in different retail channels.
The company plans to maintain its brand investment which in 2010 saw its advertising spend grow by 211% (on 2009) and its share of the CE market increase by 17%.
Mohit Parasher, Sony’s UK new managing director, identified the last stage of the digital switchover, 3DTV and ‘connected television’ as three main market opportunities in 2011. By April 2012, 10 million analogue televisions will have to be switched off, many of which will be the second and third sets in the house. This gives retailers an opportunity to offer customers not only better but also larger TV panels, since the old 26in panel has almost the same dimensions as a new 32in one.
Fast-evolving internet television will be another incentive for customers to invest in a new TV set for the home. In addition to the services already present on Sony internet TV and those to be added in the coming months, Sony is launching Qriocity – a new cloud-based platform on which the company will deliver music and video on demand service. For a monthly subscription of either £9.99 or £4.99 customers will be able to access 6 million tracks.
Out of 25 new Bravia models 24 will have internet connectivity since “the AV/internet integration is the next big thing,” confirmed Nicholas Barendson, Sony category marketing director.
The third area of opportunity for 2011 will be 3D and its many product applications such as 3D televisions, cameras, camcorders and gaming. Sales of 3D televisions are predicted to reach a one million mark by the end of the year.
However in order to capitalise on these market opportunities retailers need to install broadband connections in the stores to be able to demonstrate their potential, at the same training their staff and installation teams. “Demonstration is absolutely essential in relation to these products,” stressed Andy Benson.
Mohit Parasher was confident that Sony dealers understand this: “The majority of retailers to whom we spoke during the show told us that they will change the set up of their stores, get Wi-Fi and connect a few televisions to be able to conduct demonstrations – as soon as they get back home.”
He also encouraged retailers to raise an average transaction value on the sales of the latest technology and increase attachment ratio with such accessories as 3D glasses, cables and a variety of storage devices that carry high margins.
Among new products planned for 2011, Sony will launch a wireless iPod dock with 7hours battery life intended to be used on the move and a camcorder with an integrated projector for instant sharing of the recorded footage.
The company intends to invest heavily in the DSLR technology, predicted to grow by 12% in 2011. Sony has already achieved a 24% share of this market. The value sales of Sony’s NX5 and NX3 cameras with interchangeable lenses show a healthy growth despite fast price erosion in the digital cameras market. The company reported that four manufacturers have already agreed to provide lenses for the NX5.
In an attempt to increase accessories sales, Sony has developed many new models of headphones designed for specific needs of, for example, joggers, long-haul travellers or music lovers. Sony’s new Net Box is also expected to sell well, especially when customers start buying into internet television, as nearly 33 million televisions are located outside the main room of the house. Using Wi-Fi, the Net Box will be used to stream content to the secondary sets in the house.