EXCLUSIVE: Panasonic Australia, who is looking for growth outside of the consumer electronics and digital camera markets, is set to move back into the “smart” appliances market later this year with a new range of refrigerators, washing machines as well as can extensive range of small appliances.
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A major player in the cooking category with their microwave ovens, Panasonic Australia believes that they can grow the category with the introduction of “smart new products” while stripping share away from competitors.
Steve Rust the CEO of Panasonic Australia admits that he is targeting the likes of Fisher & Paykel, LG, Samsung and Electrolux with a range of products that are already successful in several foreign markets.
He is adamant, that Panasonic Australia can now deliver their new range of appliance range at the “right price” for the Australian market, after prior Panasonic management struggled to compete, in the appliance market due to the high price of appliances imported from Japan.
“We are confident that we have the pricing model right and that we can be extremely competitive” Rust said.
“We are not only looking at the large appliance market spanning refrigeration and laundry but the small appliance market with new bread making, rice cooking and laundry products like irons. We are also expanding our range of grooming products with new shaving products” said Rust.
At this stage the plan is to launch the new appliances in the second half of 2011 with the company looking to recruit new management into this category.
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Globally Panasonic is set to join LG, in the launch of intelligent appliances, which can be integrated into an IP network so that information can be passed via a Smartphone or Tablet PC to an appliance.
They already have air conditioning systems that can be turned on and off via an SMS message or IP command from a Smartphone.
Some of Panasonic’s Smart appliances come loaded with intelligent features and capabilities to connect with other devices and interact with consumers.
Panasonic Australia is confident that their new range will appeal to the premium end of the market while other products in their range appeal to the budget market. Discussions have already been held with several retailers in Australia re the new appliance range said Rust.
Marketers expect smart, or ‘connected’, products to start a new era in the appliance market, where the demand for premium products is growing faster than that for mass-market products.