By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Following the departure of Toby Barbour, Sony Australia has today announced the appointment of Simon Hovell, formerly of Dell, NAB and MLC, as head of brand marketing and Tim Simons as customer insights and experience manager.

In the release announcing these two appointments, Hovell takes aim at price-focused consumerism, saying that it is leading to confused and disappointed customers.

“One of the challenges faced in the electronics category is customer retention and advocacy,” Hovell said. “Companies need to demonstrate true value to consumers and generate brand and product love to encourage repeat purchase and referral.

“The trend to focus on price that has occurred in recent years actually incites confusion and can limit the customer experience.

“For example, the recent digital switchover statistics reveal that a number of consumers have purchased digital TV products that have left them incapable of viewing the full range of free-to-air digital channels, specifically the HD broadcasts.”

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One of Sony’s biggest categories, LCD TVs, which it markets under the Bravia sub-brand, has been especially impacted by price erosion. In the 12 months to March 2011, the total value of the LCD category dropped 14 per cent year-on-year, with the average sales price plummeting from $1,128 to $800 (29 per cent), according to GfK Retail & Technology.

Prior to joining Sony, Hovell was the marketing director of Dell ANZ. His experience also includes marketing roles at MLC and NAB.