Dialogue with Tadato Kimura, GM, Sony India

Tadato Kimura
General Manager – Marketing, Sony India

An innovative product line-up, wide sales network and strong marketing communications have helped Sony maintain its numero uno position in the compact camera segment. As part of the marketing strategy, Sony plans to pump in Rs 50 crore towards a multi-media brand campaign, ‘Incredible Zoom. Incredible Details’.

Tadato Kimura, General Manager, Marketing at Sony India believes that the Indian consumer is now in sync with the global market, and talks about the significant difference that association with Bollywood stars have made to the brand.

In conversation with Priyanka Mehra, Kimura speaks about Sony’s marketing strategy, brand positioning, leveraging the digital medium and more…

Q. In 2010, Sony Vaio was the fastest growing laptop brand in India. With so many new entrants in the market, has the brand been able to maintain its position? Sony Vaio reportedly invested Rs 50 crore on the ‘More Colour. More Style’ campaign, but has it translated into an adequate return on investment? 
Sony Vaio emerged as the market leader in the consumer notebook market in Q4 of 2011, grabbing a market share of 20 per cent by volume, as per International Data Corporation (IDC) research findings. It has shown 18 per cent growth from Q3 of 2011. Sony’s market share rose consistently in the past two years, right from 6 per cent in Q1 of 2010 to the current 20 per cent. In FY10, Sony sold 2.5 lakh notebooks, which went up to five lakh notebooks in FY11.

In FY11, for our multi-level brand campaign with Kareena Kapoor – ‘More Colour. More Style’ – we invested Rs 50 crore to introduce a line-up of 62 new models tailor-made to suit the diverse lifestyles of customers. The idea was to have a laptop for everyone. With the campaign, Kapoor has not only added spark to our brand, but has also been a part of the successful sales saga. Every time the Vaio campaign was on the air, we saw the sales double. This is testimony to the success of our marketing campaigns for Vaio.

Q. How does the brand position itself against competitors like Dell, Acer and HP in the laptop segment? 
The laptop market in India is very competitive and only a company with strong products and operations can grow immensely. We believe that if we are able to provide quality products that meet the consumer’s demand through a strong sales channel network, we can maintain the growth momentum and Sony has the advantage of all these factors. Our products stand out from the rest due to cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art design.

Q. Sony took its time to enter the tablet market with Tablet S. At a time when the market was already flooded with players, Tablet S managed to earn good reviews. What do you think of the evolution of the tablet market in India? 
At the time of the tablet launch in India, we observed that it was a cluttered market. Being a late entrant worked in our favour as we were more equipped, experienced and advanced than other players at the time of launching the category in India. We had observed the market and the consumer trends beforehand and hence, presented a multi-tasking product for consumers which is different in shape, application and has unique features like DLNA (Throw feature), is remote control-enabled and with PlayStation games in it.

Q. Sony India plans to sell 14 lakh units of Sony Cyber Shot in FY12 as compared to 11 lakh units in FY11. What is the marketing strategy being used to achieve this target? 
An innovative product line-up, wide sales network and strong marketing communications have helped Sony maintain its numero uno position in the compact camera segment. As part of the marketing strategy, Sony plans to pump in Rs 50 crore towards a multi-media brand campaign, ‘Incredible Zoom. Incredible Details’, with its brand ambassador of two years, Deepika Padukone. Sony’s new multi-media brand campaign across India will touch upon various media vehicles such as television and print, shop-front, PR and web activities.

Q. Sony India has used Bollywood celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Kareena Kapoor for brand endorsements. How has it benefited the brand? 
Sony’s association with celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Kareena Kapoor has been fruitful for brands Sony Cyber-Shot and Vaio, respectively. We have observed through internal research that in the compact camera segment, we enjoy quite a dominant position in non-prompted brand awareness. Not only this, Padukone has added to the style and cool quotient of the brand. Kapoor has been the brand ambassador for Vaio since 2009 and the partnership has been very positive. Being one of the most widely-followed youth icons, Kapoor matches the level of energy, vibrancy, passion and fun associated with Sony Vaio, and thereby elevates the aspirational value of the brand. Vaio sales doubled during the Vaio X ‘Size Zero’ campaign and Vaio E ‘Go Vivid’ campaign, which were launched in Nov-Dec 2009 and July-Aug 2010, respectively.

Q. How would you compare the Indian consumer with his global counterparts? How does Sony India use the digital medium to engage consumers? 
The Indian consumer market is now in sync with the global market and has gained in popularity due to the change in the work profile of its consumers. Sony India has a very active presence on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, where we have a strong legion of Sony followers and prospective customers. For our ‘Incredible Zoom. Incredible Details’ brand campaign for Sony Cyber-Shot, we have a special Facebook tab where all the information related to Cyber-Shot models, making of TV commercial and interview with Padukone are highlighted. Sony regularly posts on Twitter so that the followers know about the latest campaign, offering and go through the product highlights. We are digitally active and already have about six lakh fans on Facebook, 2,500 followers on Twitter and five lakh channel views on YouTube.