Shackled by mountains of debt and struggling to hold onto TV market share Sharp is looking to instore merchandising as a low cost way to market a new range of Quattron Plus (Q+) premium FullHD LCD TV’s as their competitors roll out the latest Ultra High Definition 4K and OLED TV’s.
Due in part to their cash flow problems Sharp is set to use their Company web site and web-based merchandising tools along with in-store merchandising and demo displays in an effort to convince consumers that Full HD is still a viable TV option.
As part of their move to merchandise instore Sharp has developed an interactive Q+ display featuring a Q+ TV model surrounded with descriptive signage and educational video content discussing the benefits of the Q+ technology and the smart-TV features the new merchandisers will only appear in selected stores in Australia.
In the USA where Sharp tends to launch new models ahead of Australia Mark Viken, Sharp Electronics brand marketing VP told Twice Magazine that the Company will rely heavily on retailers to sell their products as opposed to investing in external marketing activities.
“The point that is critically important for us, and for our retail partners as well, is how do we make these products more valuable and raise the average selling price as much as possible?” Viken said. “We are taking the brand clearly up market.”
Although Sharp will launch new Aquos Ultra HD TV models later in the year as its flagship series, the Q+ TV’s will receive the largest percentage of the company’s promotional efforts and spending this year, Viken said.
The company recommends the Q+ sets be placed alongside the 4K and OLED offerings of their competitors.
Sharp claimed Q+ delivers the best FullHD picture on the market today, at CES 2014 the Japanese Company said that their Quattron Plus TVs produces near 4K Ultra HD looking images on a FullHD 1080p panel, at a significant cost savings from a top-tier Ultra HD displays. The sets will also accept native 4K Ultra HD signals and down-convert them for display on the Q+ screen.
The problem for Sharp is that according to both LG and Samsung and several Chinese TV brands now selling 4K TV’s the price of some 4K TV’s could be close to the price of high end 1080p TV’s by the end of 2014 however most TV Companies are refusing to reveal their pricing models for new TV models which will go on sale in Australia shortly.
Sharp said that their Quattron Plus TVs are based on a complex up-scaling and pixel mapping technology leveraging the extra yellow sub-pixel of the core Quattron technology. The Q+ technology splits each of the red, green, blue and yellow sub-pixels in half horizontally, creating 2160 vertical resolution, and a total of 16 million sub-pixels, 10 million more sub-pixels than the average 1080p set.
In Australia Sharp has said that the four main feature attributes distributed across its model series are: picture quality, smart connectivity, size and design.
According to Sharp research, the Sharp brand is known to about 97 percent of consumers, and Aquos “is the strongest sub-brand in the television industry,” Viken said, adding the company will be looking to more closely align the Sharp and Aquos brands together.
Sharp calls its customer demographic “solid,” with a mix of men and women at an average age of 49 to 50 years old. One of the goals of the new effort it to bring the age range down a little lower, he said.
“There are plenty of younger customers who are more than willing to spend for a great entertainment experience,” said Viken.
Viken said the in-store component of the campaign reflects an investment that more than doubles the company’s spending on prior in-store efforts.
“We feel very strongly that we should be putting our efforts – and that’s where our money’s going – into the retail floor and the retailer’s website,” he said. “So we are spending a lot of time, effort and money on developing messaging that is very clear and consistent.”
Recently Sharp swung into a net profit for the first time in nearly two years due to improved profitability at its liquid crystal display business.
Bolstered by a $1.4 billion capital injection, the next task that the struggling electronics maker needs to accomplish is to show that it is on the right track to turn around its mainline business claim analysts.
Sharp, whose clients include Apple and Samsung Electronics is betting on solid demand for its state-of-the-art IGZO displays for smartphones and tablets to stoke demand and keep its creditors happy. Despite being shackled by mountains of debt, the company has the technology to make the indium gallium zinc oxide displays that boast high-resolution graphics and low power consumption-two qualities that are seen as invaluable in mobile devices.
There is also speculation that the Company may get out of the TV market instead they will focus on OEM TV manufacturing for other Companies.