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Panasonic Drops Technics Brand From U.S. CE Market

The Technics brand name in consumer electronics will retire before the first baby boomers, who grew up with the audio brand.

Panasonic Consumer Electronics said it will drop the Technics brand name from the U.S. consumer electronics market after a 31-year run but will continue to use the name in the disk jockey market.

Panasonic cited a desire to market all elements of a home theater system — audio and video — under a single name, mirroring the diversification of home audio suppliers such as Marantz, Onkyo and Yamaha into DVD and video display devices.

The Technics brand, positioned as a step-up brand compared to Panasonic, appeared on car audio from 1986-91 and on portable audio products from 1982 to the early 1990s. In consumer electronics, the Technics currently appears only on home audio components such as receivers, DVD-Audio/Video players, CD players and cassette decks.

As part of Technics’ retirement, only the Panasonic brand will appear on new home audio components that will be launched at January’s CES. They will join Panasonic-branded portable audio, car audio and home systems, including shelf systems and home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems.

A short selection of Technics-branded CD players and cassette decks will continue as long as there is demand, said home audio national marketing manager Alberto Reggiani. No new models are planned for now.

In assembling a home theater from audio and video products, “people are looking for the same brand with similar cosmetics,” Reggiani said. “People buying a Panasonic DVD player or TV are looking for a Panasonic receiver too.”

With that in mind, the company went to CES 2001 and introduced the first separately available Panasonic-brand receivers for dealers who wanted to create their own home theater packages. They were available in silver to match the cosmetics of select Panasonic DVD players and its Tau TVs. A few years before that, the company began marketing HTiB systems incorporating Panasonic-branded receivers, speakers and DVD players.

The Technics retirement makes sense for another reason, Reggiani said. Sales of pure audio components such as CD players and cassette decks are falling rapidly, but sales of HTiB systems and hybrid DVD-Audio/Video players are rising, and home theater receiver sales are strong.

At CES, Panasonic will introduce new Panasonic-brand home audio products such as receivers, DVD-AV players and HTIB systems.