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For more than 40 years, North America has had a love affair with the Sony brand. During that time, Sony has created numerous products and technologies that have helped make consumers’ lives easier, more enjoyable and more productive. At the same time, the company has earned a solid reputation for quality, reliability, innovation and stylish design. In fact, the Harris Poll has identified Sony as a top brand in America, as the company has held the top three positions over the past 12 years including the number one position for nine years.
The company is committed to maintaining a leadership position in consumer electronics, broadcast and professional systems and information technology products. Sony is also committed to developing new technologies that reflect the networked convergence of audio, video and information technology.
Sony Electronics is the largest component of Sony Corporation of America, the U.S. holding company for Sony’s U.S.-based electronics and entertainment businesses. Sony’s principal U.S. businesses include: Sony Electronics Inc., Sony BMG Music Entertainment Inc.; Sony Pictures Entertainment; Sony Broadband Entertainment; Sony Computer Entertainment America and Sony Wonder Technology Lab.
Sony Electronics Inc is headquartered in San Diego, Calif. and is a leading provider of audio/video electronics and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Operations include research and development, design, engineering, manufacturing, sales, marketing, distribution and customer service.
The company is noted for a wide range of consumer audio-visual products, such as the BRAVIA® HD TV, Cyber-shot® digital camera, Handycam® camcorder, Walkman® personal stereo and Memory Stick® flash media. Sony is also an innovator in IT products, including VAIO® personal computers; and high-definition professional broadcast and video products, highlighted by the XDCAM® HD and CineAltaâ„¢ lines of cameras and camcorders, and the SXRDâ„¢ 4K digital projector. Sony also co-developed the Blu-ray, Discâ„¢, CD, DVD and Super Audio CD technologies. For the latest news and information, please see our Web site at www.sony.com/news.
Sony was founded in 1946 by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. The two complemented each other with a unique blend of product innovation and marketing savvy, and formed a company that would eventually grow into a more than $60 billion global organization.
In 1950, in post-war Japan, Ibuka and Morita created Sony’s first hardware device, a tape player/recorder called the G-TYPE recorder. Materials were in such high demand that the first tapes were made of paper with hand painted magnetic material applied by Sony’s first engineers.
Ibuka was a practical visionary who could foretell what products and technologies could be applied to everyday life. He inspired in his engineers a spirit of innovation and pushed them to reach beyond their own expectations. Ibuka also fostered an exciting working atmosphere and an open-minded corporate culture. In the founding prospectus, he wrote of his wish to build a company whose employees gained satisfaction and pleasure from their work and his desire to create a fun, dynamic workplace.
Through Ibuka’s persistence, the magnetic tape recorder evolved from the G-TYPE recorder into the Model P (for “Portable”), which became the company’s first profitable product.
In 1953, the company earned licensing rights to the transistor from Western Electric. Ibuka urged his engineers to improve production methods with the goal of creating a consumer product, the transistor radio. In 1955, the TR-55, Japan’s first transistor radio was launched. And, in 1957, Sony released the world’s first pocket transistor radio, establishing a market leadership position for the company.
Akio Morita was a true marketing pioneer who was instrumental in making Sony a household name all over the world. He was determined to establish the Sony brand. In fact, he turned down an order of 100,000 radios from Bulova because they wanted the radios to carry Bulova’s name. Morita responded to Bulova saying, “Fifty years from now, I promise you that our name will be just as famous as your company name today.” His words could not have been more prophetic.
And it was after Morita’s first trip to the United States that he suggested to Ibuka that the company name be changed from Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo to one that was easily pronounceable and recognizable. The company name “Sony” was created by combining two words. One is “sonus” in Latin, which is the root of such words as “sound” and “sonic.” The other is “sonny” meaning little son. The words were used to show that Sony is a very small group of young people who have the energy and passion toward unlimited creation.
Video innovation was also a priority for Sony engineers. The road towards building a high quality color television set was quite a struggle, but on October 15, 1967, a new cathode-ray tube was completed. The new color television was named Trinitron® – derived from the word “trinity,” meaning the union of three, and “tron” from electron tube. Since its introduction in 1968, the Trinitron television has set the standard for picture quality and design.
As a proponent of global localization, Morita familiarized himself with local economies and set up manufacturing plants all over the world. When Sony constructed a Trinitron® color television assembly plant in San Diego, California, in 1972, it became the first Japanese-based consumer electronics manufacturing facility in the United States.
Further, without Morita, the world would never have known the Walkman® personal stereo. His excitement and faith in the product’s future success was the true driving force behind its existence.
At first, the Walkman was poorly received by retailers. Eight out of ten Sony dealers were convinced that a cassette player without a recording mechanism had no real future. However, the product’s compact size and excellent sound quality attracted consumers and, ultimately, ignited the personal audio revolution.
Kazuo Iwama was a detail-oriented person, admired for his scientific knowledge and discipline. He was made president of Sony in 1976, and became thoroughly involved in developing the “charged coupled device” or CCD which paved the way for the camcorder and digital still camera. While he was president, Sony launched the Betamax® video cassette recorder. His tenure ended with his passing away in 1982, but not before the launch of the compact disc player – another Sony innovation that changed the way people listened to music.
Norio Ohga was responsible for bringing Sony into the modern age and injecting it with a unique sense of style through product planning, stylish product design and innovative marketing. During his tenure from 1982 to 1995, Sony was transformed from an electronics company into a total entertainment company through the establishment of the music, pictures and gaming businesses.
Sony acquired CBS Records in 1988 and Columbia Pictures in 1989, which today form Sony Music Entertainment (SME) and Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) – two of the world’s largest content producers. SME has produced a string of best-selling albums from artists such as Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and Pearl Jam. Blockbuster films from SPE include Sleepless in Seattle, Jumanji, Air Force One, Men in Black and Stuart Little.
Through Ohga’s persistence, the Sony PlayStation® game console was launched in Japan in 1994 with only eight titles. (It was launched worldwide in 1995.) Software companies were initially reluctant to support Sony’s new format because Nintendo and Sega were already firmly established. However, with PlayStation and, most recently, PlayStation2, Sony has become the most successful game manufacturer ever.
Nobuyuki Idei, current Chairman and CEO, played a key role in moving Sony into the digital network era by emphasizing the integration of AV and IT products. He was responsible for Sony’s image campaign, “Do you dream in Sony?” and helped coin the term “digital dream kids.” The premise of the campaign was to provide shareholders, customers, employees, and business partners who come into contact with Sony with the opportunities to create and fulfill their dreams.
Idei is credited with reinventing Sony’s business model for the networked society. By complementing Sony’s core competencies with partnerships and collaborations from other companies, Sony is on its way to becoming a Broadband Entertainment Company.
Sony Corporation’s current President and COO Kunitake Ando is in charge of Sony’s global electronics operation. Previously, he was responsible for Sony’s introduction of the VAIO® personal computer in 1996, and helped Sony become one of Japan’s leaders in information technology products.
Sony: The Leader in Product Innovation
The new millennium is here and Sony has plenty to celebrate. The company’s approach – doing what others don’t – has paid off, in the form of great products that people covet.
Throughout its history, Sony has demonstrated an ability to capture the imagination and enhance people’s lives. The company has been at the cutting edge of technology for more than 50 years, positively impacting the way we live. Further, few companies are as well positioned to drive the digital age into homes and businesses around the world for the next 50 years and beyond.
Sony innovations have become part of mainstream culture, including: the first magnetic tape and tape recorder in 1950; the transistor radio in 1955; the world’s first all-transistor TV set in 1960; the world’s first color video cassette recorder in 1971; the Walkman personal stereo in 1979; the Compact Disc (CD) in 1982; the first 8mm camcorder in 1985; the MiniDisc (MD) player in 1992; the PlayStation game system in 1995; Digital Mavica camera in 1997; Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) player in 1998; and the Network Walkman digital music player in 1999.
Today, Sony continues to fuel industry growth with the sales of innovative Sony products, as well as with the company’s convergence strategy. Examples include: VAIO notebooks that raise the bar in both form and function; digital cameras that capture pictures on a floppy disk, CD-R or Memory Stick; a handheld device that lets you store and view photos as well as moving photo; MiniDisc recorders with a digital PC Link to marry high quality digital audio with downloadable music; DVD/CD multi-disc changers that playback both audio and video; digital network recorders that pause, rewind and fast-forward “live” television using a hard-disc drive; and Hi-Scan flat screen TVs that deliver near HDTV picture quality through Digital Reality Creation (DRC) circuitry.
But Sony is not just the market leader in consumer electronics.
Through research and development, the company has made considerable inroads in the areas of professional broadcasting (with the creation of the Betacam, DVCAM, HDCAM and 24P formats); mobile communications (with digital phones and the CLIE handheld); PCs (with VAIO notebook and desktop computers); storage and media (with the invention of the floppy disk, AIT and DTF drives, and the Memory Stick) and, now, the Internet.
Sony’s future brand success will be determined by how the company meets the challenges of change. Sony has always led the market in terms of innovation. But in a digital networked world, products will no longer be developed with just hardware in mind. The convergence of technologies – consumer electronics, computing and telecommunications – is a reality, with new competitors forming and consumer mindshare up for grabs.
Broadband Network Era
Sony is a corporation with convergence at its very heart. Driven by an integrated business model, the company is well positioned to bring new benefits to consumers by combining hardware, software, content and services.
Sony’s approach is to make it possible for consumers to enjoy various forms of content on both “home networks,” consisting of connected electronic devices, and “mobile networks” that are accessible through mobile terminals.
Products such as the i.LINK® interface and Memory Stick® digital storage media provide greater connectivity between digital devices and will help create seamless home and personal networks.
From a hardware perspective, Sony’s strategy is focused on four gateways to the networked world: 1) Digital televisions and set-top boxes; 2) VAIO personal computers; 3) Mobile devices, such as the CLIE handheld devices and digital phones; and 4) PlayStation2 game consoles.
The company’s software strategy includes the development of new audio-visual applications designed to personalize technology. Recent examples include updated Open MG Jukebox music management software, and digital video editing products, such as PictureGear, MovieShaker and DVGate.
Sony’s vision is to give consumers easy, ubiquitous access to entertainment and information anytime, anywhere – no matter whether the content comes from cable, satellite, terrestrial, packaged media or the Internet.
In the company’s view, the Internet is an “e.Playground” where consumers can collect, share and manage everything from data and text information, to digital images, movie clips and music. The result: New ways to enjoy Sony products.
Sony is also giving consumers new reasons to visit the Internet, including the recent launch of SonyStyle.com, a new information rich, e-commerce site for everything Sony. Designed to build a closer relationship between Sony and its customers, the site will offer a variety of commerce, content, community and connectivity options planned for the near future.
Other new service offerings include www.ImageStation.com and www.eMarker.com. ImageStation.com helps consumers create, share and enjoy digital pictures and video. The service offers free online albums and eCards, and members can share their favorite pictures as gifts, keepsakes and high-quality prints in a variety of sizes. Select Sony hardware and accessories are also available for purchase in the ImageStation.com store.
eMarker.com is an online service that puts an end to the most frustrating part of hearing a song on the radio — not knowing the title or the artist’s name. By pressing the button on the tiny eMarker device, people can “eMark” songs they hear on the radio and locate the information through the site.
Sony has been at the forefront of the movement to help consumers adopt digital lifestyles, which, in a broadband network era, means helping them maximize the power and control found within digital technology.
However, even in this broadband network era, one fact about Sony remains the same: the company’s fundamental philosophy of providing products that are fun to use.
Sony’s vision is not necessarily about refrigerators talking to toasters. It’s about bringing to market products that capture the imaginations of consumers and enhance their lives in the process.
In the future, look for Sony to create entirely new forms of entertainment, blending movies, computer generated worlds, games and music. Sony has the vision, technology and content to forge a direction in consumer entertainment that no other company can match.
Promoting a World Class Brand
The phenomenal strength of the Sony brand worldwide is surely a testament to the company’s reputation for producing innovative products of exceptional quality and value. And while traditional brand theory says brand essence should be narrowed down to one element, Sony celebrates brand diversity — with the Trinitron, VAIO and Walkman sub-brands, to name just a few, each connecting with consumers across various lifestyle segments.
Sony has the brand recognition and marketing savvy to create new product categories and revitalize mature ones. Look no further than what the company did with the Walkman brand and for the MiniDisc format.
Sony, the company that changed the way the world listens to music with the introduction of the Walkman personal stereo, again set its sights on transforming the portable music landscape when it kicked off a comprehensive, integrated marketing campaign to relaunch the Walkman brand in June 2000.
Titled “The Walkman Has Landed,” the marketing campaign, which included broadcast, print and online advertising; Internet and dealer events/promotions; and grassroots consumer and public relations components; strategically communicated the lifestyle attributes of the Sony Walkman line to generation Y, its primary target market.
Additionally, the campaign brought together an entirely new product line up comprised of CD Walkman, MD Walkman and Network Walkman personal digital audio players.
The company knew that it needed to reinvent the Walkman brand for today’s younger, more digitally inclined music lovers. (To many, the brand had become generic, representing “older,” analog-based cassette technology.) Sony promoted a new Walkman ideology based on personal freedom, independence, imagination and creativity in a way that appealed to new techno-savvy, style-conscious consumers who favor digital downloading and ripping CDs.
The star of the television commercial from the campaign is an alien character named Plato, who is “quintessentially diverse and knows how to have fun.” His persona offers Gen Y a bit of humor and a good dose of enjoyment.
Another example of Sony’s ability to reposition itself and its products is found in the MiniDisc. A huge success in Japan, where it has become the dominant recording format, MD did not become a success in the U.S. until it was marketed as a digital music player that could record from the Internet. With its inexpensive media and versatility (units are capable of recording Internet music, tracks from personal CD collections and favorite songs off the radio), MD has become a gen Y favorite. U.S. sales have increased by more than 40% since the MD to PC link was introduced.
However, the company doesn’t just rely on brilliantly executed advertising campaigns to secure consumer attention. The company utilizes world class public relations to enhance Sony’s value, reputation and brand image. Communications campaigns are conducted on both an individual product and strategic platform basis. This process ensures exposure for the company’s most important products as well as for the company’s role in key industry issues that cross multiple product categories and disciplines, including electronic music distribution and digital television.
When remarking about the importance of the Sony brand name, consider this quote from Chairman of the Board, Norio Ohga: “In April of every year a large number of new employees join the company. And what I always say to them is that we have many marvelous assets here. The most valuable asset of all are the four letters, S, O, N, Y. I tell them, make sure the basis of your actions is increasing the value of these four letters. In other words, when you consider doing something, you must consider whether your action will increase the value of SONY, or lower its value.”
In the minds of consumers, Sony is one of the world’s greatest brands — the company was once again rated the number one brand in the U.S. by the 2000 Harris poll. As noted, much of the brand equity Sony enjoys is rooted in product innovations.
However, to ensure the future of its brand, the company recently embarked on an extensive, company-wide initiative in the U.S. designed to foster a common understanding of the Sony brand among employees, customers and consumers. The project, dubbed Being Sony, was necessitated because of expansive company growth, an influx of new employees, and converging business opportunities.
Sony executives felt the need to clearly articulate the meaning and values inherent in the Sony brand (to both internal and external constituencies), while re-examining the unique relationship of the brand in American culture.
Despite involvement in disparate businesses, the company’s desire is to leverage the brand beyond the products — the primary touchpoint with consumers, and add to the brand’s value by re-focusing it to the outside world.
In essence, Sony, the box manufacturer, is being replaced by a new Sony – a customer-centric entity centered around broadband entertainment, yet driven by the venture spirit of Sony’s founding days.
We Help Dreamers Dream
Sony is a company devoted to the CELEBRATION of life. We create things for every kind of IMAGINATION. Products that stimulate the SENSES and refresh the spirit. Ideas that always surprise and never disappoint. INNOVATIONS that are easy to love, and EFFORTLESS to use, things that are not essential, yet hard to live without.
We are not here to be logical. Or predictable. We’re here to pursue INFINITE possibilities. We allow the BRIGHTEST minds to interact freely, so the UNEXPECTED can emerge. We invite new THINKING so even more fantastic ideas can evolve. CREATIVITY is our essence. We take chances. We EXCEED expectations. We help dreamers DREAM.
Sony Electronics Inc. is dedicated to protecting and improving the environment in all areas of its business operations. Conserving resources, eliminating hazardous chemicals, increasing energy efficiency, reducing pollution and offering convenient recycling opportunities to customers are among many areas that SEL is committed.
Since 1991, SEL established a corporate-wide environmental policy to address waste minimization, waste management and consideration of environmental impact when evaluating new products, projects and operations. This lead to the establishment of Sony’s Environmental Vision and mid-term Green Management targets.
Green Management 2010 provides guidance, direction and progress measurement systems for environmental initiatives for global Sony group operations. The plan creates a framework to uphold “green” policies and procedures in the creation, design, manufacture, packaging, transport, sales and service of products and in all areas of operation in order to achieve these targets.
All Sony North American manufacturing plants and all non-manufacturing operations larger than 100 employees are ISO 14001 certified under the Sony’s global environmental management system program. This certification recognizes that SEL operations meet the international standard for environmental management requirements and for many areas, Sony and SEL are committed to minimizing environmental impacts well beyond what is needed for certification.
As a leader in the consumer electronics industry, Sony has made environmental responsibility a top priority. The Sony Take Back Recycling Program was launched on Sept. 15, 2007 with Waste Management Inc. (WM) and is the first recycling initiative in the U.S. that connects a major consumer electronics manufacturer to a national waste management company and its physical network of recycling centers around the country. To encourage consumers to recycle and dispose of electronic devices in an environmentally sound manner, Sony is working with WM and its Recycle America locations to allow consumers, including businesses, to recycle all Sony-branded products for no fee at eCycling drop-off centers throughout the U.S. The program is also open to all makes of consumer electronics products, recycling any non-Sony product at market prices.
Sony has participated in a similar recycling program in Minnesota since 2000. Based on the success of this program, Sony plans with WM’s support to expand the Take Back Recycling program with at least one eCycling drop-off center in all 50 states. Sony and WM Recycle America are also working toward having enough drop-off locations so there is a recycling center within 20 miles of 95 percent of the U.S. population. The company’s overall goal is to make recycling of Sony products as easy and convenient as it is to purchase, and recycle one pound of old consumer electronics equipment for every pound of new products sold.
As of January 2008, Sony is the first company to sign the “Manufacturers’ Commitment to Responsible E-Waste Recycling,” a pledge with key watchdog environmentalists that all waste collected through its partnership with Waste Management will be managed responsibly. Sony is abiding by the highest environmental standards for end-of-life product solutions by ensuring their recyclers meet a strict set of standards, including not exporting the toxic waste to developing countries.
SEL is also a board member of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation and labels all of its rechargeable batteries with recycling information. With help from the RBRC, there are now more than 50,000 convenient recycling drop-off points throughout the United States and Canada. In addition to regular rechargeable battery collection boxes currently available in all Sony Style stores, Sony distributes individual collection bags in specific product packaging.
SEL has been instrumental in using post-consumer resources including plastics into new products, supporting the recycling of materials, as well. This initiative has led to the annual consumption of more than 15,000,000 pounds of otherwise waste plastic.
It is an all-inclusive term for marketing products and/or services online – and like many all-inclusive terms, Internet marketing means different things to different people.
Essentially, though, Internet marketing refers to the strategies that are used to market a product or service online, marketing strategies that include search engine optimization and search engine submission, copywriting that encourages site visitors to take action, web site design strategies, online promotions, reciprocal linking, and email marketing – and that’s just hitting the highlights.
Online marketers are constantly devising new Internet marketing strategies in the hopes of driving more traffic to their Web sites and making more sales; witness the increasing use of blogs as marketing tools for business, for instance. (For more about creating a blog and how to use blogs as an Internet marketing strategy, see my Blog FAQ For Businesses.)
If you’re new to Internet marketing, I recommend focusing on web design and search engine optimization as a starting point; for most sites, the most traffic still comes from search engines and directories
Sony’s new Internet marketing strategy
Marketers at Sony Corp., seeking an alternative to tired traditional Internet marketing methods, have found a new way to connect with consumers — online courses.
Two years ago, Sony launched its first online tutorial, providing tips and information on digital photography, and it has since expanded to four. Entitled Sony 101, it provides four “campuses” for online visitors: personal computing, home entertainment, digital photography, and business solutions for the small business. Visitors to the site can enroll in any of the campuses, which typically feature four to five courses each month and include content on a specific topic with an expert in the field. For example, the first course currently listed in the digital photography campus is “Digital from Day 1: Record Your Life in a Digital Scrapbook.” The content is generic to the industry and generally free of Sony marketing messages, apart from a sidebar that pops up throughout the course offering relevant Sony products.
“We did not want the content to be an infomercial where we were only promoting Sony,” said Barbara L. Miller, director of corporate marketing Web services with the Tokyo-based company. “We wanted it to speak to changes in technology and industry-wide topics.”
Sony partners with Powered Inc., an Austin, Texas-based online consumer education technology vendor that helps provide the content, plus a hosted software platform and marketing and data services. Sony contributes its own internal and marketing resources, and feedback from its customer service centers, to help create the courses.
Sony measures the success of the program based on the number of visits the campuses receive, registration, enrollment and conversion to sales and retention (how many times a user returns for a new course). Sony also surveys its customers after the courses to find out whether the content is appropriate and whether they’d recommend it to a friend.
The results of the four campuses have been encouraging. Sony has received a favorability rating of more than 90% from its customers, and those who take the course are not only more likely to buy an item they’re learning about, they are more likely to buy a Sony product.
“We found that more than 60% of our audience is brand-loyal to Sony and more than 80% would recommend the program to a friend,” Miller said. @21599
The courses also foster community between Sony and its customers. The more than 80,000 registered members provide feedback and insight via questions to the instructors, helping Sony anticipate customer service questions.
Sony is expanding the courses to external sites. This week, for example, iVillage completed a series of consumer courses, underwritten by Sony as part of its educational outreach to women and technology. Throughout the course, Sony makes relevant products available. More than 25% of all students clicked through to a Sony Electronic micro-site and more than 15% purchased a Sony product as a result.
“We’re always looking at emerging marketing media opportunities, especially where it comes to educating the consumer,” Miller said. “Sony as a brand has always been a technology leader. It’s our responsibility to break down some of these questions that come up. It helps to support our overall position in market and brand.”
A study from Next Century Media sponsored by Powered found that online consumer education produces ROI nearly 300% higher than traditional campaigns. The survey of nearly 200,000 consumers who participated in Powered online courses also found that students who complete online courses are 29 times more likely to buy products compared with traditional media advertising and five times more likely to buy compared with direct marketing.
“We think this is a critical channel for marketers to consider,” said Dave Ellet, CEO of Powered. “People are looking for ways to cut through the clutter. Things like Webinars and white papers really do close the sale. That’s what we’re trying to do on the consumer side — educate the consumer.”
The courses also encourage people to buy bigger-ticket items. The average consumer who goes through a course buys 63% more than he or she intended, Ellet said. For example, someone who completes an online course in digital photography might feel more confident in purchasing the higher-end camera.
“Consumers are changing,” said Buck Krawczyk, vice president of marketing at Powered. “Consumers want to try these things themselves. They want to engage themselves rather than have the message shoved at them.”
There is an appetite for this sort of information, whether it’s reviews from product users or experts, and online courses offer a user-friendly blend of marketing material and owner’s manual, said Peter Kim, senior analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research. The question for marketers is whether they want to turn to a third party to provide those courses.
“The customer relationship is the key,” Kim said. “Certainly companies need to be careful of ceding that relationship to a third party. If [they] rely on a third party, fine, but [they need
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