It's time the Japan OEMs remembered how to market themselves.

Market share for Japanese electronics companies began to erode in the early 2000s. Shrinking sales were felt everywhere in the global market, but especially hard hit were Japanese consumer electronics makers. Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, Sanyo, Toshiba, Hitachi and other Japanese manufacturers were the predominant brands found in the big box stores. Consumer Electronics inventories at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and other large retailers now come from manufacturers in Korea, Taiwan and China. Japanese brands have a negligible market share in the North American market.

Sanyo is the only Japanese brand bucking this trend. Sanyo can be found on the shelves of the big box stores. How is this Japanese company competing effectively against their Asian competition? Didn’t Sanyo go out of business amid an accounting scandal? Yup, the whole company was sold to Panasonic several years ago during this accounting scandal. Let’s see what’s really happening with Sanyo.

Panasonic acquired Sanyo, and sold the brand names “Sanyo” and “AQUA” to the Haier Group -– a major electronics company in China – for about $10 million. Haier is one of the major brands in China, but did not have a large global market share. Haier decided to market the brand name Sanyo as a “Made In Japan” product. The reason for this is consumers are still wary of purchasing items made in China, even at lower prices. The quality issue has plagued Chinese manufacturers for many years. Haier does not clearly communicate whether Sanyo is Japanese made or Chinese made. Haier has gained a considerable market share in the LCD TV and white goods segments in North America, and decided to begin a marketing campaign using the AQUA brand name.

A business evaluation of Panasonic concluded that the company is very strong at marketing and sales, but fall short in the technology department. Considering the business performance of Panasonic over the past several years, it are living up to this evaluation because it have not contributed anything significant in the consumer electronics segment. One could now argue that it is losing its marketing and sales strengths. It sold the Sanyo name!

Panasonic did not understand the value of the brand names and underestimated its value when it sold it. Panasonic is not alone with this shortfall – other large electronics companies in Japan are not taking advantage of the equity built over the years in some of their brand names. They should go back to marketing basics and start using these brand names that consumers can recognize and feel confident about the quality.

Dominique K. Numakura, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DKN Research,

DKN Research Newsletter #1618, June 19th, 2016 (English Edition) (Micro Electronics & Packaging)

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