Return of the boom box? Electronics makers reviving classic brands
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.