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Why Panasonic TVs Failed To Sell

The decision by Panasonic to pull out of the Australian is not surprising and it has nothing to do with the quality of their TV’s.

For two decades Panasonic TV’s have been among the best TV’s out there, first with their Plasma range which included the Kuro engine that was developed by Pioneer and later acquired by Panasonic.

TV Reviewers around the world praised this engine which was described as delivering the “Best blacks” ever seen on a large flat screen Plasma TV.

When Plasa became redundant Panasonic successfully moved to high definition TV’s and then Ultra High Definition TV’s which specialist dealers such as Len Wallis in Sydney exclusively sold “For the simple reason that they were the best TV’s in the market” he said.

So, what went wrong?

In a nutshell their failure was all about lousy marketing, a lack of investment in their brand and boring and predicable PR.We work with Hollywood studio’s,claimed Panasonic, so does LG,Samsung and the Chinese brands who dished out big money to producers and studio’s to plead their case.

The Hollywood Studio claims by brands have become so abundant that they have become irrelevent when a comsumer simply compared a TV screen in store often via a brand produced instore demonstrator video and then looked at the price.

Up until recently the Company was still issuing paper press releases in folders like we got 15 years ago before digital email press releases. Some of these press releases were four and five pages long.

What Panasonic was caught in was a trap, that many brands are falling into.

Instead of spending money on brand marketing and the differentiation of their brand Vs their competition they kept throwing money at retailers and expecting the retailer to do a marketing job for them.

This is a recipe for failure because the millennial consumer did not have a clue as to who Panasonic were other than a Company that made batteries for Tesla cars and electricity Companies.

Marketing staff at Panasonic switched from being staff who knew what was needed to grow and a brand and get sell through, to personnel who were obsessed with digital clicks irrelevant of what the click meant.

There was a time when Panasonic Australia spent money on marketing and the results were outstanding.

Remember the famous Lumix camera skipping advertisement (See below).

This was an advertisement developed in Australia for a simple waterproof camera, sales went through the roof and the commercial was so successful that other Panasonic subsidiaries picked up the creative.

Panasonic has joined a conga line of Japanese brands who have failed because of a lack of marketing nouse.

After dominating the TV market during the early days of Plasma and before that with CRT TV’s the Japanese brands are nowhere into todays TV market.

At one stage Fujitsu with their 42” plasma TV dominated the early flat screen TV market, also in play during this period was NEC, Sharp and Sony as well as Panasonic.

Sony screwed up losing billions along the way as brands such as LG and Samsung stripped market share away. Now Chinese brands such as TCL are stripping share away from both Sony and Panasonic as well as Samsung and LG in global markets.

The good news is that Sharp who exited the Australian market in 2015 because of poor local management and a lack of marketing is tipped to be on the way back and could be the replacement brand following the exit of Panasonic.

Sharp is now owned by the worlds’ biggest technology Companies Foxconn with several retailers telling ChannelNews that they still have customers coming in looking for a “Sharp TV”.

Japanese management often believe that their products are so good that they will sell themselves. Often driven by sales success in the domestic Japanese market.

What they don’t like doing is spending money on marketing upfront to drive the brand as has been the case with Panasonic. Instead they take the view that if they get sales from the profits a percentage will be spent on marketing for future sales.

In todays market this is a recipe for disaster.

Also impacting Japanese brands is the inability of Japanese management to be flexible when a retailer and competing brands are rampantly discounting.

Without brand marketing the consumer has no reason to believe that Japanese Companies who often produce superior products are superior and a reason to pay a premium price.

While Panasonic Australia claim they are moving onto new categories the same poor Japanese marketing formula will apply.

Sony who once spent millions on marketing are now living off past investments in their marketing activities, but that value is fast declining as new millennials become the big spenders and the PlayStation gets replaced by online PC gaming.


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