Sony v Panasonic: different formats, different strategies

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: With no Olympics or World Cup to boost TV sales during the rest of 2009, two of the leading panel suppliers have taken very different approaches to promoting their ranges. Although Sony markets only LCD panels, and Panasonic is a big player in the plasma space, it is worth contrasting the two Japanese competitors’ marketing, if not comparing the panels directly.

Throughout July, Panasonic is giving away a Nintendo Wii console with the purchase of one of eight selected Viera-branded plasmas. These models range in price from around $2,500 to just under $12,000. Panasonic product manager Matt Pearce called this promotion “exciting”, and the TVs themselves as the “ultimate” in large screen viewing.

This promotion is strikingly similar to Sony’s uber-successful PS3 promotion from mid-2008, which overshadowed Panasonic’s Swim-2-Win Olympics-themed strategy. Obviously, Panasonic can’t give away PlayStation 3s, but by including the very popular Nintendo console, it has put together a clearly definable and attractive pitch to consumers and potential retailers.

Conversely, Sony is focusing on its new range of Bravia’s features, rather than relaunching its PS3 campaign. The new Z5500 series went on sale 1 July, and although Sony is continuing its advertising and soccer-themed marketing, there are no current plans for a consumer promotion.

Product manager Jan Ergen said the goal for Sony was to convey the features and technology to consumers. This is the strategy that worked with the previous Bravia line, which Ergen claimed was the number one selling LCD TV in Australia over Christmas, and one Sony is trusting to work again.

“The Z5500, with its design improvements and picture quality improvements really sets itself up with a convincing sales proposition to consumers in retail outlets, and I think the ideal consumer will be able to really enjoy watching sport, whether it’s the Socceroos or any other sports on this TV: it’s the ideal TV for the sportslover.”

When asked if Sony were planning a new promotion, similar to the PS3 giveaway, Ergen said none was planned for the short term.

“We’ve had a lot of success with consumer promotions in the past, so of course we’ll consider all options, consumer promotions being one of them, but at this moment in time, we’re focusing on the technology which the product brings to market.

“We believe it’s got the best picture quality of any LCD TV, and we’re going to focus on the strengths of the product.”

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