By Craig Zammit

SYDNEY: The winners of the Electrical Retailing Awards (ERAs) for Best Audio Supplier, Best Imaging Supplier, Best Home Theater Supplier, Best Phone Devices Supplier and Best Visual Supplier were announced on Friday, with Sony taking out three of the coveted gongs. 

Sony came up trumps across three categories – imaging, home theatre and audio, dominating the audio and visual segments.

The Best Audio Supplier ERA was Sony’s second consecutive ERA triumph in the audio category, with Apple, LG Electronics, Panasonic and Yamaha struggling to catch up with the multinational giant.

Sony was recognised for its brand equity in the audio category and for delivering retailers and consumers products of good quality which are well-advertised and well-represented. One judge said Sony “offers a complete range of innovative products” that provided stores with “great sales growth”.

Sony also defeated LG, Panasonic, Pioneer and Samsung for the Best Home Theatre Supplier ERA, with one judge praising Sony’s ability to offer “great home theatre solutions and complete packages”.

Other judges commented that Sony offered sleek designs which retained “great brand equity” and provided retailers with a “good sell-up strategy”. Others were impressed with the brand’s high average selling price, good quality, extensive range of products and attractive appearance.

The ERA for Best Imaging Supplier represented another category in which Sony won both the 2006 and 2007 ERA Award, with judges voicing unanimous praise of Sony’s ability to offer a comprehensive range of products supported by solid brand equity.

In a constantly evolving category, moving from digital still to digital SLR in the camera category and from DVC to DVD to HDD in the camcorder category, Sony was recognised for its ability to maintain a leadership position by releasing quality products in every major growth segment, supported with strong representation in store as well as after sales support.

Sony beat fellow finalists Canon, JVC, Olympus and Panasonic.

Previously known as Best Communication Supplier, the ERA for Best Phones Device Supplier was dominated by cordless phones suppliers, with Doro, Oricom, Telstra and Uniden unable to better the eventual ERA winner, Panasonic.

Retail judges stated that Panasonic offers the “best range”, “great features”, “good sales” and strong brand equity in the marketplace. One store owner described “a huge range and great retailer support”, while another said Panasonic offers “consistently innovative products of high quality that look good and sell well”.

The final audio visual ERA was for Best Visual Supplier, with last year’s winner, LG Electronics, managing to reach runners up status in 2007, as Panasonic beating other runners up Pioneer, Samsung and Sony to the prize.

Judges commented that Panasonic offered very good quality products supported by strong representation at store level. One judge stated that Panasonic is “a reliable brand that customers recognise, with products that offer a good picture and are easy to use”.

While margin and declining price points across the category was a concern, retailers were impressed with Panasonic’s ability to promote the brand and deliver products with innovative design and technological features.