Sony Cites Positive Black Friday Performance

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New York - Fourteen months into his role as president and CEO of

Sony Electronics

, Phil Molyneux said Wednesday the company has gained significant momentum in recapturing lost consumer appreciation.

Molyneux said his chief mission since arriving has been to redirect the Sony corporate culture to focus on the consumer first, ahead of the retailer, in its go-to-market planning and strategy implementation.

The results, he said, led to a successful Black Friday holiday sales period without the company having to resort to doorbuster discount promotions.

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 targeted 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 over achieve there.

"The IT market is very aggressive right now and the tablet market is what I call a particularly cluttered market with some significant offers out there from our competitors that we didn't follow," he explained.

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 reach the consumer.

These included revamping Sony's direct sales store operations, and implementing a new "Sony Store" name for the brick-and-mortar locations.

Currently the company operates 46 locations.

The company has also embraced social networks, including Facebook, to reach consumers and encourage them to share their product experiences to aid in planning and service.

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 YouTube, producing in-house videos showing consumers how to get the best experiences out of their Sony equipment.

Such efforts helped to drive average sales volume four times higher in a single day for one of the company's recent Bloggie camcorder releases, he said.

For national advertising, Sony has also identified TV programs that engage audiences interactively - such as the FOX Network hit show "X-Factor" - to support with its national advertising campaigns.

At retail, Sony has taken the techniques that have worked successfully in its own stores to retail partners. This included establishing "Golden Space" demonstration zones for various products. For example, a Bravia TV is taken off the wall and placed in a vignette that engages consumers by allowing them to make programming selections and experience all of the systems benefits in a way that makes them comfortable.

Sony is also working with five Golden Store partners that have extensively implemented unique Golden Space executions in their outlets and have allowed specially trained Sony reps into their stores to help train the 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 family."


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