Panasonic Corp in Consumer Appliances (Japan)

STRATEGIC DIRECTION
¦ Panasonic’s appliance division aims to become the number one global company in the appliances industry by 2018. Panasonic’s consumer appliances division maintained a strong performance, serving as a core growth driver for the company. The company is focusing on designing products at the regional level to help it achieve its growth targets. Within this division, the company is also looking to increase its reliance on business-to-business (B2B) sales in its distribution channel, which offer the company higher profit margins than consumer-to-consumer sales. B2B sales are expected to account for 50% of total company sales by 2018, up from 42% in 2012.
KEY FACTS
Summary 1 Panasonic Corp: Key Facts
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www: www.panasonic.co.jp
Activities: Producer of refrigeration appliances, room air conditioners, home laundry appliances,
vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, electric irons, dishwashers, microwaves, rice cookers, induction cooking equipment, gas cooking equipment, electric thermos pots, electric fans, electric, gas and kerosene heaters, infra-red warmers, electric blankets, electrically- heated rugs, kitchen fixture systems, electric, gas and kerosene hot-water supply systems, bath and sanitary equipment, healthcare equipment, electric lamps
Source: Euromonitor International from company reports, company research, trade press, trade sources
Summary 2 Panasonic Corp: Operational Indicators
Year end 31 March 2012 2013 2014
|- -1“ —
Net sales ( billion) 7,846.2 7,303.0 7,736.5
Net profit ( billion) -772.2 -754.3 120.4
Number of employees 330,767 293,742 271,789
Source: Euromonitor International from company reports, company research, trade press, trade sources
COMPANY BACKGROUND
¦ Since the establishment in 1918, Panasonic has owned a broad product range of consumer appliances, such as refrigeration appliances, washing machines, air conditioners and small appliances. Due to their very different management styles, Panasonic and Sony are often compared. Unlike Sony, Panasonic focuses only on electrical appliances and is not active in the gaming, film or financial services industries.
¦ Panasonic merged with Sanyo Electric in September 2009 to strengthen its energy business in categories such as solar cells, rechargeable batteries and energy-saving products. Panasonic was attracted by Sanyo Electric’s advanced lithium ion and solar battery technologies. In terms of domestic electrical appliances, the merger will enable Panasonic to manufacture energy-efficient products with batteries, such as electric toothbrushes.
¦ In July 2011, Panasonic reached a final agreement to sell Sanyo Electric’s refrigeration and laundry divisions to Haier Co. Panasonic’s objective was to minimise duplication of internal functions and
human resources. Following the final agreement, the two companies completed the gradual transfer of the businesses in January 2012.
¦ In January 2012, Panasonic completed an organisational restructuring plan. As a result, the Global Consumer Marketing Sector was established to strengthen its marketing capability in global markets. The sector has responsibility for both consumer electronics and appliances products and will enable Panasonic to further focus on international expansion to offset shrinking domestic sales.
¦ As of April 2014, the company group comprised of 504 consolidated companies worldwide with core business segments in appliances, eco solutions, AVC networks, automotive & industrial systems and others.
PRODUCTION
¦ Panasonic centralised most of its domestic electrical appliance production at the Kusatsu factory in Shiga in 2008. This factory produces air conditioners, refrigeration appliances and dishwashers. The research and development division for domestic electrical appliances is also located at the Kusatsu factory.
¦ In light of the harsh economic environment, Panasonic decided to close 27 factories and sales offices in 2008. The Fujisawa and Gifu factories were closed in 2009. Panasonic is hoping to enhance production efficiency by using other facilities to replace the closed factories.
¦ In 2010, Panasonic constructed its Global Consumer Research Centre. In order to encourage product development led by overseas regional demand, the company plans to set up overseas regional research centres in each region, such as India and Brazil. The Global Consumer Research Centre acts as a hub for these overseas regional research centres to facilitate global information sharing and efficient use of resources.
¦ Panasonic plans to set up new production hubs in emerging markets, such as Vietnam, India and Brazil. In Vietnam in particular, Panasonic plans to invest ¥8 billion to set up two new production bases to act as distribution hubs for ASEAN markets. One new plant to produce washing machines began operations in 2013 and will have a production capability of 700,000 units per annum by 2015. Another plant to produce refrigerators began operations in October 2012 and will have a production capacity of 800,000 units per annum by 2015 together with existing plants for refrigerators.
¦ T owards the end of the research period, the company announced the plan to transfer some of its overseas production sites that manufacture domestic appliances back to its domestic manufacturing sites. This is largely due to the depreciation of yen which started in 2013.
COMPETITIVE POSITIONING
¦ Appliance businesses is a key revenue driver for Panasonic and accounted for 23% of the company’s total net sales for the fiscal year that ended on 31 March 2014. Panasonic retained its leading position in consumer appliances in Japan with a volume share of 25%.
¦ Panasonic is the leader in various consumer appliance categories and its presence in the domestic market is extremely strong. Panasonic held the leading position in both major and small appliances in 2014 with volume shares of 23% and 25%, respectively. In dishwashers, for instance, the company held a 71% volume share in 2014, which left very little room for the competitors.
¦ Panasonic’s energy-efficient feature ECONAVI is in line with consumer demand and the social trend towards energy saving following the March 2011 earthquake. Eye-catching advertisements for ECONAVI, with its sophisticated sensing capability to auto-save energy, established strong brand awareness among consumers. Panasonic’s advertising and marketing campaigns are generally high exposure, and aim to attract consumer attention and stimulate purchases through their uniqueness.
¦ Most appliances by Panasonic are connected via smartphones, which in part convinces consumers to purchase other Panasonic appliances to increase the usability. The company also focuses on housing businesses alongside the appliance businesses to realise superior integration between appliances, smartphones and houses.
¦ Panasonic positions itself at the high end of the market. The company acknowledged the limited volume growth in consumer appliances in Japan and focused on higher margin products with improved
and value-aIDed functions. The changing demographic pattern in Japan also affects the target consumer segments for Panasonic. In fact, towards the end of research period, the company announced the launch of appliances under J concept series, specifically targeting older consumers. The appliances in the J concept series are easy-to-use, light-in-weight, and have a superior product design, all of which allow older consumers to easily use them.
Summary 3 Panasonic Corp: Competitive Position 2014
Product type Retail volume share Rank
Consumer appliances 24.9% 1
Dishwashers 70.9% 1
Home laundry appliances 21.4% 2
Large cooking appliances 14.9% 3
Microwaves 21.5% 1
Refrigeration appliances 24.6% 1
Air treatment products 18.5% 1
Food preparation appliances 14.6% 2
Heating appliances 7.0% 2
Irons 33.7% 2
Personal care appliances 41.9% 1
Small cooking appliances 17.1% 2
Small kitchen appliances 5.0% 4
Vacuum cleaners 31.1% 1
Source: Euromonitor International from company reports, company research, trade press, trade sources, trade interviews

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Alternatives (Strategic Choice of Business Strategies and Corporate Strategies)

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