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Sony 3D Push Seeks To Make Up Lost Time

7/06/2010 12:34:00 PM Eastern
SAN DIEGO — Although joining the 3D TV fray a little later than rivals Panasonic and Samsung, Sony marketing executives told TWICE they have hit the ground running this month in rolling out to retail a comprehensive lineup of 3D Bravia sets backed by an integrated corporate 3D message.

Sony has begun flagging the attention of curious 3D customers by urging them to come back into stores now, some three months after Samsung and Panasonic introduced their first 3D sets, to see what it considers to be the best 3D TV demos available.

Sony is delivering Bravia 3D LED TVs in three series to regional and national dealers of various sizes through July, ramping up to more accounts over the course of the next three months.

The company is also arming dealers with an arsenal of marketing resources, from extensive on-floor sales training assistance to an assortment of in-store merchandising kiosks — both customized and “off-the-rack” — that enable showcasing multiple components of a Sony 3D TV system together for an in-store demo, to engage shoppers intrigued by the 3D buzz.

The training initiative, Sony said, is focused on communicating “how Sony products stand apart,” placing Sony brand advocates in the market to work with all sizes of retailers. In addition, the company has hired “several hundred sales reps” who are working alongside stores’ sales associates several days a week in assisted sales environments of varying sizes.

Sony said it is emphasizing its differentiation from the rest of the 3D TV pack by pointing to three pillars of strength in its new TV lines — superior 3D picture quality, superior set design and styling, and a powerful connection to the Internet for an expanded entertainment experience.

Chris Fawcett, Sony U.S. TV business unit VP, said consumers should not be put off by talk of 3D glasses incompatibility or standards yet to come, adding that Sony is putting significant resources into making sure consumers get plenty of use for the long term out of the sets they buy today.

“Sony has thought through all of the aspects of 3D entertainment, not just the television product but also how it relates to Blu-ray players, Blu-ray home theater, the PlayStation3 gaming system, the content creation that we’re doing with Sony Pictures and Sony Pictures Television, in addition to the partnerships we are funding in the market to make sure 3D broadcast content is available as well,” he said. “We are educating the content creation community to make sure that 3D production happens, so that downstream the consumer can enjoy a Bravia 3D TV, confidently, not only in what the hardware presents but knowing that Sony’s expertise has infl uenced creation of content in the highest quality as well.”

Fawcett pointed out that the “Monolithic Design” of Sony Bravia sets this year — presenting a flat plane of glass with a minimum separation of materials for a more uniform look at feel — “has been strongly received by consumers, retailers and design aficionados.”

“We’ve seen the Monolithic Design as an opportunity to redefine Sony’s stance as a market leader in overall television design,” Fawcett said.

Bravia LED 3DTVs offer a 3D picture with a wider viewing area, enabling more people seated in a room to receive a signal with their glasses than other models.

Sony’s closed-optic glasses technology blocks out more ambient light than competitive models in the market, Fawcett said, by minimizing distractions while keeping a darker viewing area so that the contrast between the television and the glasses is stronger for better picture quality.

“Versus our plasma competition, we see a brighter picture on a Sony 3D set because of a new technology we call LED Boost, which helps us control the backlight,” Fawcett said.

Another strength for Sony in its 3D effort will be its popular PlayStation3 gaming system, which has been updated to support 3D Blu-ray movie playback in addition to 3D video games.

“Gaming is a very important platform to help drive the overall 3D awareness,” said Mike Abary, Sony Electronics consumer products group senior VP. “It is an element amongst many in the message of balance in the full 3D solution that comes from Sony — it consists of our hardware, our content that includes gaming and movies and broadcast,” Abary said.

In addition, Sony’s rollout efforts are highlighting the Bravia Internet Video capabilities as a key piece in “the Sony ecosystem,” said Abary, though delivery of 3D content over the platform is still not ready for primetime.

“While 3D might be an emphasis right now, we are not de-emphasizing any of our platform services and content,” he added.
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