NEW YORK –
Sony Electronics has started to win
back lost business by implementing a corporate strategy
that puts greater focus on the consumer than on
the retailer, Phil Molyneux, the company’s U.S. president
and CEO, said at a press conference here last
Molyneux, who took the reins at Sony 14 months
ago, said his chief mission has been to redirect the
Sony corporate culture, putting the consumer first in
product planning, marketing and support.
The results, he said, led to a successful Black Friday
holiday sales period without the company having to resort
to doorbuster discounting tactics.
Molyneux said Sony saw a 40 percent increase in
its online call center business over the Black Friday
weekend compared with a year ago, and a 21 percent
increase in sales at its revamped Sony Stores.
At national accounts, Molyneux said Sony virtually
across the board bettered its target sales goals in key
categories over the four-day period. He singled out
Blu-ray players for “phenomenal success.”
“Based on our touch points, shop front and shareholder
value, we really didn’t want to go in with significant
discounts,” Molyneux said. “However, the results
were really strong for TV and digital imaging. Vaio and
our tablet have been on plan, but we did not overachieve
Upon his arrival here, Molyneux said Sony’s corporate
focus was stuck on meeting the retailers’ needs.
“We were focused on sell-in rather than sell-out,”
Molyneux said. “We were an organization that made
an effort to ship and forget. I had to drive a cultural
change. The relationship with the retailer is important,
but the focus on the consumer is paramount.”
Molyneux mapped out nine touch points Sony needed
to address to better “engage the consumer in a delightful
These included storefront displays, service platforms,
dealer sales force, call centers, assisted sales
support, online sales, NPS and events.
At the top of the list, Molyneux said, are Sony’s revamped
direct-sales store operations — “the most
powerful vehicle we have.”
The company recently changed the stores’ names
from Sony Style to just Sony Stores, where the company
“can walk the consumer through this journey with
Sony,” covering products, content, services and support.
Currently the company operates 46 locations, and
recently opened revamped 6,000-square-foot “pilot”
showrooms in California, Texas and New York. Molyneux
said Sony will eventually replicate the concept
across of the Sony Store outlets. The company is also
looking to add 3,500-square-foot Sony Store boutiques
in some markets, depending on the city and
location, he said.
Sony has also embraced social networks, including
Facebook, to reach consumers.
Molyneux said Sony built up a Facebook fan base
from less than 100,000 fans a year ago to more than
1.3 million today.
The company has also extensively leveraged You-
Tube, producing in-house videos showing consumers
how to get the best experiences out of their Sony
For national advertising, Sony has also identified TV
programs that engage audiences interactively — such
as the Fox Network hit show “X-Factor” — for national
At retail, Sony has taken the techniques that have
worked successfully in its own stores to retail partners.
This included establishing “Golden Space” unique
merchandising executions for various products. For
example, a Bravia TV is taken off the wall and placed in
a vignette that invites the consumer to make programming
selections and experience products’ benefits.
Sony is working with five “Golden Store” partners
who have implement multiple Golden Space merchandising
executions and allowed Sony sales reps into
their stores to help train their sales staff and to work
with consumers during peak selling hours.
The initial Golden Store partners include Target,
Best Buy, P.C. Richard, hhgregg and BrandsMart.
“I think this is incredibly important,” Molyneux said,
“because these guys we train to a different level, and
they are very passionate about Sony and will have
long-term contracts with Sony, so they feel part of the
Another key touch point coming mainly from Sony
Stores is providing premium services, from personalizing
a Vaio PC to recycling an old product.