Kenwood's Mizuhara On Next 50 Years
By Joseph Palenchar On Jun 20 2011 - 3:01am
LONG BEACH, CALIF. —
Ryo Mizuhara took the helm
last month of Kenwood’s U.S. operation on its 50th
anniversary, and much has changed since 1961 within
the company, the consumer electronics industry and
the global economy.
As Kenwood USA embarks on what all would hope
would be another half century of operation, Mizuhara
spoke with TWICE about the company’s short- and
TWICE: Do you plan any new operational, distribution
or marketing directions in the U.S.?
Overall, our directions for Kenwood in
the U.S. will be more sharply focused on sales and operational
execution as well as marketing through digital
media and social-networking channels. I believe that
customers have much higher expectations for leader
brands, and Kenwood needs to constantly deliver on
TWICE: What are your priorities for Kenwood USA?
My two top priorities are to keep sales
momentum strong in a tough U.S. economy and to grow
awareness of the Kenwood brand. We also have strategic
market development intentions. However, we must
pay close attention to the dynamics of the business.
TWICE: How will Kenwood and JVC in the U.S. be
affected by the Oct. 1 merger of JVC Kenwood Holdings,
Victor Co. of Japan, Kenwood Corp. and J&K
Car Electronics Corp.? For example, will some U.S.
JVC and Kenwood operations be combined? Would
JVC and Kenwood car electronics sales, marketing or
distribution be combined?
In Japan, Kenwood and JVC have taken
advantage of some efficiencies that are the result of
the integration of the two companies. How this will
be fully realized in the U.S. is still unknown. However,
I can state that we intend to keep both brands strong
and unique within the U.S. market.
TWICE: Does Kenwood USA have any plans
in the U.S. to re-enter the home audio market,
which Kenwood left in the mid 2000s?
Kenwood home audio products
are still sold in some overseas markets in Asia
and Europe. We have no intention of re-entering
the home audio market offering similar product
as we had in the past, such as A/V receivers,
video disc players and tower speakers. We are,
however, studying new businesses where Kenwood
could be competitive and offer strong
value. It is too soon to discuss concrete details
at this time.
TWICE: Where has Kenwood USA excelled
in the U.S. mobile electronics business, and
where must it improve?
The Kenwood mobile electronics
business has done quite well in the U.S. market
due to leadership positioning in the in-dash
electronics product categories and has gained
market share in amplifiers and speakers.
I believe we will continue to see severe
competitive pressures in all of these categories.
Thus we must work harder on delivering
value to dealers through the best operational
execution and by attracting new customers to
their stores. Of
course, we must
continue to deliver
and we intend
to do so.
you foresee new aftermarket product directions
for Kenwood in the U.S.? For example,
targeting the expediter market, offering factorylook
OEM A/V-navigation systems that integrate
with the factory databus when necessary,
bringing out installed aftermarket car Wi-Fi,
and the like?
Mizuhara: Kenwood’s commitment to the
aftermarket is driving us to explore many different
product directions that are being developed
to address the broader technological
trends taking place in the U.S., such as
smartphone penetration, wireless broadband
and the popularity of on-demand content. The specifics
of our plans cannot be discussed at this time. However,
rest assured that Kenwood will continue in its leadership
TWICE: Does Kenwood plan to adopt the universal
Kenwood will adopt the SiriusXM interface
platform on all satellite-ready products in 2012.
TWICE: In the mobile aftermarket, what is the outlook
for industry sales this year and next? Are what will be the
industry’s growth segments in 2011 and 2012?
I have always been optimistic about the
industry. The U.S. has over 250 million registered passenger
vehicles, and the average age of these vehicles
is just over nine years old. This means we have very
good in-dash replacement and upgrade opportunities if
we can get the attention of these consumers and demonstrate
how much better
we can make their driving
experience through the
use of our products.
Regarding growth segments,
I would say that any
product category that allows
consumers to better enjoy the content they bring into
the car on their smartphone, iPod or other mass-storage
device will see steady growth.
TWICE: In 2008, when JVC and Kenwood officially
merged under the JVC Kenwood Holdings name, the
company said it wanted to make OEM and aftermarket
car electronics business its top product category. Has
there been any change in that direction?
Our direction has not changed. And Kenwood
is involved in the OEM market as a tier-one and tiertwo
supplier to various automobile manufacturers and is
active in the dealer-option and port-installation ends of the