After investing millions into marketing for their plasma and digital camera’s, including $9M on the Australian Tennis Open and millions more on Rugby, Panasonic Australia is now reaping the benefits with big increases in market share in the flat panel TV, digital camera and camcorder markets claims the Japanese Company’s CEO Steve Rust.
Now the Company is set to move into the SLR camera market, they are also set to expand their air conditioning operations as well as launch new appliances.
Business is “booming” claims Rust with the Australian operation “significantly” outperforming budgets, that were set during the dark days of the economic recession.
Rust a former senior executive at Apple joined Panasonic as CEO, two years ago from global technology distributor Ingram Micro.
Shortly after joining he commenced a program to restructure the Australian operation which in the past had catered to an older Australian audience with CRT TV’s, Microwaves and appliances.
He sacked long time advertising agency, George Patterson, who had handled the Panasonic brand for 28 years. He replaced them with creative agency Campaign Palace.
He quickly launched a highly controversial advertising campaign that claimed that plasma TV technology was superior to LCD TV technology. This got right up the noses of executives at Samsung and Sony who complained bitterly. But the campaign worked with the Company today reaping the benefits of market leadership in the plasma TV market up against the likes of LG and Samsung.
His biggest challenge came in the digital camera market, which when Rust joined the Company was dominated by Canon, Nikon and Sony.
This year Panasonic with their Lumix brand has fluctuated between 15% and 22% share of the Australian digital market and Rust, aims to increase this even further next year. He also plans to launch an assault on the SLR camera market that is dominated by Canon and Nikon.
Rust said “The decision we made to back the Lumix brand with a major investment in marketing is paying off. In some big retailers we represent 40% of their digital camera sales. This is now an important category for us and next year we plan to expand even further with new modes and an SLR camera range”.
He added “We are now growing at a significantly faster rate than we planned. We have had a lot of success in the Blu ray market. We are also experiencing good demand for our plasma TV’s and HD recorders. Every Panasonic category is well ahead of our plans and we do not see this abating in the short term”.
“Next year we will have an even bigger and better Lumix range and I am confident as to where we can go with this brand. We are confident that we will finish our financial in the #3 position in the digital camera market”.
A big loser in the battle with Panasonic has been Sony, who has seen their share of the digital camera and camcorder market decline. Both Canon and Nikon have taken digital SLR market share away from Sony while Panasonic has stripped share away in the compact market.
In the highly competitive flat panel TV market Panasonic has grown their share of the plasma market from 39% to 41% during the past 12 months. They have also increased their returns from this category with the Company increasing their value share of the plasma market from 42% to 45% according to GFK data.
In September Panasonic had 49% of the plasma market.
Other competitors in the plasma market are LG with 26% and Samsung with 21%.