Re­turn of the boom box? Elec­tron­ics mak­ers re­viv­ing clas­sic brands

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS -

A re­vival is spread­ing among au­dio brands that long­stand­ing mu­sic fans once knew and loved. Many of th­ese brands, such as ra­dio-cas­sette maker Aiwa Co., are sym­bolic of the hey­day of au­dio tech­nol­ogy that oc­curred in the 1970s and ’80s. How well this re­vival catches on with the younger gen­er­a­tion — not just mid­dle-aged and se­nior con­sumers rem­i­nisc­ing about the cas­sette era — will largely de­ter­mine whether it is a suc­cess.

Aiwa prod­ucts will once again be on sale as early as this au­tumn, from a busi­ness that ac­quired the trade­mark from Sony Corp.

Jvck­en­wood Corp., a firm that was born out of the uni­fi­ca­tion of Ken­wood Corp. and Vic­tor Com­pany of Ja­pan, brought back Vic­tor, a ma­jor brand dat­ing back to be­fore the Sec­ond World War, in March. Pana­sonic Corp. re­vived its Tech­nics brand, known for prod­ucts such as record play­ers, in 2014.

In the late 1980s, when CDs be­came the main medium for play­ing mu­sic, mini stereo sys­tems and dual CD-cas­sette play­ers sold at an ex­plo­sive rate. Us­ing th­ese in com­bi­na­tion with large speak­ers was a fad of sorts among young lis­ten­ers of the time. Aiwa in par­tic­u­lar had many prod­ucts that sold for com­par­a­tively rea­son­able prices, mak­ing it one of the more pop­u­lar brands.

Aiwa, which was es­tab­lished in 1951 and merged with Sony in 2002, ended pro­duc­tion in 2008.

The Aiwa name is be­ing re­vived by Towada Au­dio Co., a firm con­signed with the pro­duc­tion of Sony’s ra­dios. It ac­quired the trade­mark this Fe­bru­ary and es­tab­lished a new Aiwa com­pany that will work on the brand’s re­vival. It will man­u­fac­ture prod­ucts such as CD-ra­dio-cas­sette play­ers and high-def­i­ni­tion 4K tele­vi­sions at an af­fil­i­ated fac­tory in China, and sell them.

Kazuomi Naka­mura, di­rec­tor of the new Aiwa brand, said, “We’ll adopt new tech­nol­ogy while main­tain­ing the brand’s ac­ces­si­ble prices.”

Tech­nics was merged with the Pana­sonic brand in 2010. Fans, how­ever, strongly de­manded a re­turn of the Tech­nics brand name, and Pana­sonic de­cided to re­spond. Vic­tor, which re­leased its fi­nal prod­uct in 2012, also resumed sales this year.

The tem­po­rary dis­ap­pear­ance of th­ese au­dio brands was due to the in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple choos­ing smart­phones and por­ta­ble mu­sic play­ers like Ap­ple’s iPod. Peo­ple were able to lis­ten to mu­sic when­ever they pleased, lead­ing to a de­cline in sales of stereo play­ers.

“It’s go­ing to take strate­gies that will get not just the mid­dle-aged and se­nior de­mo­graph­ics in­volved, but also the younger gen­er­a­tion, which doesn’t know about the old brands,” said Ichiro Michikoshi of re­search agency BCN Inc.

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