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.”