SONY MARKETING MIX: 4P’s
Sony, a conglomerate based in Tokyo, Japan, has a diversified business portfolio made of electronics, gaming, entertainment products and financial services. It is a leading brand in electronics industry and also the fifth largest manufacturer of televisions, as of 2016. In several regards Sony has been the leader in its industry, the first one to bring the direct view portable transistor TV and the famous Walkman. However, another major product that had made Sony highly popular was the Sony VAIO laptop. After bearing losses for years in its PC division, SONY was forced to discontinue its PC business. Still, the brand has continued to do well and and its brand image and technology are an important reason that SONY is a celebrity in several areas including gaming consoles, video camcorders as well as professional and medical equipment (Source: Fortune 500, SONY’s rank is 105th). The brand was forced to cut down on its smart-phone line to avoid running into further losses. SONY employs more than 128,000 globally and its current CEO is Kazuo Hirai. This is a discussion of the marketing Mix of SONY and its marketing strategy.
Marketing Mix of SONY: 4P’s
SONY has a large and diversified product mix consisting of both products and services.
Television and Home theatre: Sony is a leading brand that makes televisions, home theatres, sound bars, projectors and blue ray and DVD players.
Video Cameras: Sony is also a maker of camcorders, action cameras, music video recorders and professional camcorders.
Audio: Sony makes high quality audio equipment including headphones, MP3 players, wireless speakers and high resolution audio.
Car and Marine: The brand also makes ‘in car receivers’, players, speakers and amplifiers as well as marine audio and automotive audio.
Cameras: SONY makes interchangeable lens cameras, lenses, compact cameras and lens style cameras.
Energy, store and cables: The brand makes batteries, memory cards and flash drives as well as cables.
Mobile, tablets and smart devices: The brand is also a maker of cell phones, tablets, wearable technology and digital paper.
Medical and professional devices: Sony is also a maker of medical devices like medical imaging cameras, medical recorders, monitors and printers. Apart from these things SONY also makes professional devices like professional displays, large scale modular displays and accessories and professional audio devices like wired microphones, headphones, misers and AV Amps.
Financial services from Sony:
Sony also provides a wide range of financial services and solutions that are meant to make businesses more flexible and enable them to respond to change. Financial pressures can grow big and go out of hand in 21st century. Its financial serves are tailored to help businesses find support and growth.
Apart from these products and services, SONY is also a leading provider of movies, music and other entertainment products and services.
SONY’s electronics products and services except the gaming products are marketed globally through its trademark SONY. This trademark has been registered in 200 countries and territories. Its global business is divided into six regions – Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, North America and Oceania. The warranty service of SONY covers 53 countries and regions. Sony also has a wide distribution net globally in the areas where its products are sold. Apart from its authorized retailers in the various nations, SONY products are also sold through the online channels. Online retailers like Amazon.com and Camera.com are also among its authorized retailers that sell its products online.
The pricing strategy used by Sony is that of premium pricing. This is done is order to create a premium image. SONY is a brand that sells premium technology products that are aimed at the higher end market. Its target segment is made up of the higher end customers and small and big businesses. In this regard, its technology is only next to Apple which remained a major challenger till SONY was operating in the PC segment. SONY has also shrunk its smart-phone range and introduced a few more high priced smart-phones. The premium pricing strategy serves to do two things. It first helps the brand maintain a premium image and second it reflects the brand’s investment in technology and research and development. Apart from it, SONY also spends a very large sum (in billions) on advertising and promotions. Keeping all these investments in mind and SONY’s investment in technology and quality, its premium pricing strategy appears suitable. This premium pricing strategy also reflects the premium customer experience that SONY has created.
SONY spends heavily on marketing and advertising. As per an online resource its 2016 advertising budget was $3.7 billion (Source: Businessrevieweurope). It uses several channels for marketing including traditional and modern. However, digital marketing is the central focus of its promotional strategy. The social media too has an important place in the overall marketing and promotional strategy of SONY. It also makes use of television and the print media in plenty in the Asian markets to promote its brand and products. It is known for making creative TV ads that are highly engaging. In Asian markets its ads are generally focused on products and highlight their outstanding features and quality. Social media also has an important place in its marketing strategy and promotions. It uses social media extensively to target its customers and to engage them. It has separate Facebook pages for its different products and its Play-Station page has particularly very high number of followers. The level of customer loyalty that the brand enjoys is evident from the high number of fans and followers SONY has. Apart from Facebook, it has used Pinterest, Google Plus, and Twitter for customer engagement and for promoting its brand.
Marketing Strategy of SONY:
Like most other celebrity brands, SONY too has shown heavy focus on marketing and has proved itself smarter than others in this area. While digital marketing is at the centre of this strategy, the brand has also used the other channels for successful marketing and promotion of its brand and products. SONY has used a creative promotion mix to reach its customers. There are three elements that are quite distinct about its marketing strategy. The first element is product. When you have got your product mix right, you have little to fear from your competitors. Sony’s focus is on design, quality and technology in this area. Apart from being technologically efficient, its products are better than most in terms of quality and design too. Sony has proved itself outstanding in terms of product quality and design. Its pricing and promotions strategy are the other two important elements in its marketing strategy. A premium pricing strategy corresponds to the premium image of SONY and its products.
Sony’s expenditure on advertising and promotions is very high. In 2016, its advertising budget was $ 3.7 billion. The large advertising budget also reflects the heavy competition in the electronics industry. When the competition in the industry is as high, you need to show somewhat deeper focus on marketing and promotion. SONY’s branding strategy to a large extent has played a strong role at helping it overcome the competitive pressure. It is renowned as a technological brand and has been the first to bring a few great products to the market. Its Walkman was a big hit. So, have been the Experia television and its smart noise cancelling headphones. Still, Sony does not leave any stone unturned to market its products and to make them successful. After having discontinued its PC business, it focused on the other areas including music and entertainment. Its SONY PlayStation has also been a big hit. These devices are promoted heavily on television. It is not difficult to come across the ads of SONY products while watching TV. While mostly, these ads have product quality and functionality at their centre SONY gets creative with its ads to engage its customers. Apart from highlighting the features, these ads also focus on creating a customer friendly image. SONY’s customer orientation gets easily visible in its marketing strategy too. Whether on Television or other marketing channels, SONY ads have a definitely beautiful angle which is distinct from others. However, the target customer segment are mainly the millenials. Its advertising strategy focuses on reflecting the same energy and enthusiasm and sometimes you can easily catch a glimpse of this energy in SONY’s promotional videos.
Another platform that has played a central role in SONY’s marketing strategy is the social media. Social media can be a major support, if you can design a creative customer experience. SONY has used social media for both customer engagement and for promotion of its products. Apart from millions of followers and several popular Facebook and Twitter pages, there is much more that SONY is doing through social media. It has also used Pinterest and Google plus for marketing and promotion. Along with cost effectiveness and reach, a major advantage that any brand can generate through social media is that of customer engagement. Social media helps you connect with your customers on a different level where the connection can be made more personal. SONY’s strategy has always focused on customer friendliness and deeper clarity. The credit goes to SONY’s creative execution that it has been so successful at engaging its followers through social media channels. How you showcase your brand on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or any social media channel, plays a major role in your branding strategy. SONY’s showcase is beautiful and so is its impression on the millions of its customers globally. At last, there are several creative lessons to learn from SONY’s marketing strategy. Some are easily evident when you browse through its videos on YouTube.
However, the story is not limited to just the digital channels because SONY is well versed at using the traditional channels too. It uses the traditional channels too quite adeptly. One can come across its ads on outdoor locations like billboards and behind buses and on the walls. Outdoor advertising is generally highly effective in the metropolitan areas where the exposure to the target audience can be very high. The ads of SONY’s high definition televisions are easily found on shining large billboards in the metropolitan areas. That’s how SONY markets and advertises its brand. Another critical role is that of its brand image whose two main pillars are technology quality and beautiful design. While SONY has used a premium pricing strategy like Apple still it has its own large fan segment with high brand loyalty. This premium pricing strategy conveys a premium brand image and a premium customer experience. Overall, SONY’s marketing strategy is outstanding in most aspects.
Sony Annual report 2016