By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
A determined and unified marketing, sales and product development effort helped Panasonic claim the title of top plasma TV manufacturer over the last 12 months, during which time the company claimed title to the top-selling plasma television model, according to The NPD Group's market research reports.
According to Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD, Panasonic's EDTV level TH-42PD25UP was the top-selling plasma display device in the United States during the June to May period, and was one of four models the company placed in the top 10.
Andrew Nelkin, Panasonic consumer electronics display group VP, said the TH-42PD25UP benefited from a total effort that was aimed at helping Panasonic recapture the plasma crown from Sony, which placed the top-selling plasma display the previous year.
“We went to market with a very integrated approach to capture dominant market share,” said Nelkin. “We knew that we had a technological advantage that gave us a product that was superior to anything else that is in the marketplace, and our job was to educate the channel partners and the end users to those benefits and show them why they wanted our product.”
Nelkin said the TH-42PD25UP was part of a new Viera plasma family based on key device development that yielded 2,048 shades of gradation and 3.5 billion colors, among the highest numbers in the industry.
“Starting with a very strong technological advantage, we had to go to our channel partners very early in the game, and gain support by giving them confidence we were going to be the market leader,” Nelkin explained.
Nelkin said Panasonic executed a marketing plan for Panasonic's Viera plasma family employing national television advertising, radio spots, fliers and dealer ads to bring total impressions up in consumers' minds.
“We advertised more this spring than we did last Christmas,” Nelkin observed, adding the integrated TV ad campaign linked plasma with Panasonic digital cameras and DVD recorders.
Panasonic also “more proactively went into the marketplace to work with the people selling our product” and to ensure Panasonic's panels were being displayed properly,” he said.
“We go into each national account. We work with people on the floor, giving them positive selling points and materials that advertise what our benefits are,” Nelkin said.
“Once all the elements were there, it was a matter of whether we did our jobs right. And when you go to the selling floor and see the colors, it really stands out as the best in the industry,” Nelkin said. “It becomes a very easy job” to sell the set.
Nelkin said Panasonic's parent corporation offered additional promotional support for plasma technology compared with rival big-screen technologies by staging an educational campaign aimed at dispelling popular myths about burn-in issues and limited life.
Nelkin said the key selling feature for the TH-42PD25UP and all Panasonic plasma models was its color performance, which outstripped even the unit's cosmetic design.
“We always pay a lot of attention to cosmetics, but in the end run the customer wants the television to fade into their living environment, and in the case of plasma we were able to emphasize the thinness of the product and the screen itself, because that's where the benefits lie,” Nelkin said.
While the EDTV plasma set with its 840 by 480 resolution was the nation's top-selling model in the June to May time frame, Nelkin said Panasonic's HDTV level plasma models now represent the majority of the company's plasma sales. Panasonic also posted the top-selling 42W-inch HDTV plasma set in the time period, according to NPD retail sell-through data.
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