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Sony Eyes 3D, Will Expand MAPs

SAN DIEGO — Sony, which
began its minimum advertised
pricing (MAP) programs on
television displays last fall, said
the program has begun to pay
dividends and will be expanded
into other categories.

Mike Fasulo, Sony executive
VP and chief marketing offi cer,
said at a press roundtable during
its annual line show, held
here last week, that specialty
dealers have embraced Sony
MAP policies, which offer real penalties for non-compliance across a
wider swath of products and model than
the SURE and SSPG programs used in
the past.

“Every note I’ve gotten from a specialist
has been a thank you, in terms of MAP,”
Fasulo said.

He said Sony just announced the expansion
of the MAP program into home
audio/video as well as TV and is now
studying the likelihood of expanding it
into the digital imaging category, as well.

“We are introducing a program on our
[DI] premium products that will require
an in-store demonstration,” he said.

“The specialist retailer is extremely important
to me, it is extremely important
to our industry, and it is going to be vital
to 3D,” Fasulo said, responding to market
conditions that forced the recent closing
of the MyerEmco chain (See story on p.
6). “I think demonstrations are going to
make a comeback and this is going to be
multichannel-oriented where it is going
to be Internet and brick-and-mortar.”

In part to help A/V specialty dealers,
Fasulo said Sony’s TV lines are shipping
three months earlier than ever this year,
which should help alleviate some dealers
that were left short of inventory prior to
the Super Bowl period.

At the same time, Stan Glasgow, Sony
Electronics president and COO, said the
company is working harder at returning
to the forefront of breakthrough new
product innovations, pointing to 3D TV
as an area where Sony is moving very aggressively
to get out in front of the market

He pointed to the recently introduced
Sony Dash (shipping in April at a $200 suggested retail), which is a home-based
Internet entertainment device with a 7-
inch LCD screen designed to access popular
Internet destinations such as Facebook
and the just-announced Netf lix
movie-streaming service, as an example
of an innovative product that will help
Sony break new ground.

“[Dash] wasn’t just a dream one night.
It [came from] the understanding of a
lot of consumer insights, and could there
be other displays in the home that made
sense for consumers.” Glasgow said.

He also pointed to the recently introduced
worldwide branding campaign,
called “make.believe” — the first of its
kind for Sony — that will help to re-establish
the Sony lead as “an internal as
well as an external campaign.”

Glasgow said the Sony United efforts
that are marrying all of Sony’s various businesses
on synergistic product launches is
beginning to work “better and better.” He
pointed to a promotional bundle for “one
retailer” offering a TV, PS3, a game and a
movie that in one day moved 12,000 units.

“It was the best bundle deal that they
had ever done and that we had ever done
before,” he said.

Glasgow pointed to a similar one-day
bundle on a TV and a PS3 at Sony Style
stores on Nov. 21 that also set a company

 “At Sony Style stores we moved three
times more TVs than the prior year,”
Glasgow said. “So when you give the right
deal to consumers, even in this economy,
it is a positive thing,” Glasgow said.

As for the Bravia Internet Video Link
community, Glasgow said Sony is “getting
closer and closer to that 1 million
type of user [level],” illustrating another
path that Sony is helping to pioneer for
the industry.

Meanwhile, Glasgow said, more and
more consumers, particularly among
younger generations, are leaning more
heavily on “green” designed and supported

“I’m not saying they are willing to pay
more money in that direction, but they
are certainly leaning toward green and
sustainability,” he said, adding that Sony
continues to remain committed to developing
eco-friendly products and packaging,
and, in leading the industry again, has
already taken back more than 25 million
pounds of electronics products for recycling
through its “Take Back” campaign.

As for its merchandising and marketing
plans for the year, Sony is giving “much
more focus at the retail [storefront] than
it has done in the last couple of years,”
said Fasulo, explaining that the company
is adopting a more integrated marketing
strategy through Internet-driven vehicles,
including social networking.

In the last year, Fasulo said the company’s
branding efforts have taken “a platform
perspective,” designed to keep an
ongoing dialogue with the consumer over
a 12 to 18 month period of time.

The company’s HDNA campaign,
which is an example of the new platform
approach, returned “very positive metrics”
for recall (which hit nearly 60 percent)
and call-to-action for retail, Fasulo said.

More importantly, he pointed out, Sony’s
sales increased 13 percent over the
course of the HDNA campaign.

Fasulo said he expects similar or better
results from the “make.believe” campaign,
which will kick off in April around digital
imaging, run to the summer when 3D
TV will hit hard before shifting to backto-
school in the fall, and conclude with
3D and gifts for the holiday season.

Sony also announced that it will expand
its relationship with pop star Justin
Timberlake by becoming the title sponsor
of the William Rast Fashion Show,
which he co-owns, in New York.

“We are getting a little more expansive
with our relationships on our sponsorships,
because it matters to the consumer,”
Fasulo said. “It also gives us the opportunity
to speak with the different segments.”

Fasulo said Sony plans to advertise its
leadership in 3D this summer by playing
up what Sony called its multiple roles
from the “lens to the living room.”

From the lens perspective, Sony will
be producing 3D movies through Sony
Pictures and is delivering 3D production
equipment for broadcasters.

Sony will ship its 3D televisions this
summer in tandem with the rollout of
the 3D portion of its ad campaign.

Fasulo cautioned: “I do not believe this
is the year for gangbuster sales of 3D
anything — Maybe movies, like ‘Avatar,’
but I do see this as the year for great education,
and it is also the reason for people
to buy today. You will see with our
various models of televisions — we have
LED, we have IP connectivity and an additional
feature we have is 3D, So there
is no reason for the consumer to wait to
buy their television today. That is the approach
we are going to take with our lineup
this year — build that excitement and
build that platform for a bigger business
moving forward.”

Fasulo said Sony started 3D TV demonstrations
at Sony Style stores shortly
after CES, and those have given the company
good feedback that will help Sony
modify its approaches in both Sony Style
locations and with its retail partners.

Fasulo said 3D on television is a new
concept to most consumers, and it is
“driving excitement.”

As for merchandising 3D, Fasulo said
Sony has developed a series of touchpanel
kiosk displays that enable customers
to switch between 2D and 3D content
demonstrations on attached TV sets
to present a full experience of what the
technologies offer, while helping educate
consumers to the new format.

Sony is also sending trainers into the
fi eld to teach retail partners about the new
3D products and benefi ts as well as share
the best sales approaches to handle it.