Ap­pli­ance mak­ers bank­ing on Asia’s ex­pand­ing mar­ket


With the mar­kets for elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances in Ja­pan, North Amer­ica and Europe be­com­ing ma­ture, ma­jor au­dio- vis­ual brands, in­clud­ing Pana­sonic and Sony, have rec­og­nized Asia, par­tic­u­larly ASEAN, as the new promis­ing mar­ket for them.

Pana­sonic in April moved its Asia-Pa­cific re­gional head­quar­ters from Ja­pan to Malaysia. The new Pana­sonic Ap­pli­ance Mar­ket­ing Asia Pa­cific HQ will al­low the com­pany to get quick re­sponses from Asian con­sumers and de­velop new prod­ucts that are ap­pro­pri­ate with them, it be­lieves.

Hidekazu Ito, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Pana­sonic Siew Sales (Thai­land), said Pana­sonic had set a global sales tar­get of 10 tril­lion yen (US$81 bil­lion) by 2018, gen­er­ated by var­i­ous prod­uct cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances, hous­ing and au­to­mo­tive prod­ucts, and busi­nessto-busi­ness so­lu­tions and de­vices.

He said the com­pany aimed for its global sales of elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances to in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly, from 1.7 tril­lion yen in fis­cal year 2014 to 2.3 tril­lion yen in fis­cal 2018. The con­tri­bu­tion from Asian mar­kets will in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly, from 13.5 per­cent to more than 15 per­cent over the pe­riod. About half of the con­tri­bu­tion will be still from Ja­pan.

“We chose Malaysia to be the new re­gional head­quar­ters for Pana­sonic’s elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances as we have many fac­to­ries for such prod­ucts, in­clud­ing tele­vi­sion sets and air-con­di­tion­ers, in that coun­try,” Ito said.

“We wanted to move our re­gional head­quar­ters to be close to the fac­to­ries so that we can speed up the prod­uct-devel­op­ment process and get quicker re­sponse from our cus­tomers in Asia. Our prod­ucts to be de­liv­ered within the re­gion will be bet­ter suited to Asian con­sumers, who have dif­fer­ent life­styles and living pat­terns, com­pared (with) Ja­panese peo­ple, for in­stance.”

Ito said that in Thai­land, Pana­sonic ex­pected sales of its elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances to reach 11 bil­lion baht in the 2015 fis­cal year end­ing next March, up by about 5 per­cent from fis­cal 2014. By fis­cal 2018, it hopes the value of elec­tri­cal-ap­pli­ance sales in Thai­land will reach 55 bil­lion yen.

Yuzo Chiba, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Sony Thai Co, said Southeast Asia was a very im­por­tant mar­ket for Sony with the grow­ing num­ber of mid­dle-class con­sumers.

The re­gion will be the fo­cus for Sony in all prod­uct cat­e­gories. “While in many mar­kets, such as Ja­pan, the U.S., and Europe, the mar­ket for elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances is rather ma­ture, it has more po­ten­tial for the com­pany to grow in this Southeast Asia re­gion. The re­gion has also con­trib­uted a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of Sony’s busi­ness,” Chiba said.

He added that Thai­land was one of the big­gest mar­kets in Southeast Asia and there­fore very im­por­tant for Sony. “Many peo­ple in Thai­land ap­pre­ci­ate in­no­va­tive prod­ucts. They are more con­scious of and in­ter­ested in some­thing new and in­no­va­tive. At Sony, we have ap­plied the con­cept of pro­vid­ing some­thing new and dif­fer­ent with the aim to be in one of the top tiers of each con­sumer seg­ment, in­clud­ing cam­era and mu­sic lovers.”

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