Show’s almost over for TV brands in popularity contest

March 16, 2021 | 10:00
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Fierce competition in the market is seemingly destroying the prospects of well-known Japanese TV brands like Sharp and Toshiba, as their popularity plunges and availability in some showrooms becomes scarcer.
shows almost over for tv brands in popularity contest
Show’s almost over for TV brands in popularity contest

At a Dien May Xanh store in Hanoi’s Cau Giay district, typical of most electronics stores focused on television sets, a batch of products are shown in cases of various types, sizes, and specifications. However, customers would now find it hard to locate any TV set from leading Japanese electronics brands like Panasonic, Sharp, and Toshiba.

In the Cau Giay store, Tran Son Tung wanted to buy a TV for his new house and shared his memory about his previous Toshiba TV set. “Four years ago I bought a Toshiba fridge, and amazingly I received a 55-inch TV for free after a lucky draw. Today I decided to look for a new Toshiba TV basically as a thank-you but I am failing, as I can’t seem to find any.”

Staff of the Dien May Xanh store said that they had stopped receiving Toshiba sets over the last two years. “We presented them in the showroom to try and sell just like the rest of the TVs that other manufacturers sent,” said one staff member. “But recently, the number we receive is quite low and no-one asks for these brands anymore. So we leave any of the older-model TVs in the warehouse.”

In fact, sales of large-screen TVs remained at two-digit growth (85, 58, and 29 per cent, respectively) in the periods of 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020. According to the German market research institute GfK, in the first three quarters of 2020, Samsung maintained the leading position with 44.7 per cent of market share, rising by 2 per cent on-year. That of Sony reduced by 6.7 per cent on-year to 25.9 per cent, followed by LG with 17.6 per cent of market share (up 3.8 per cent on-year).

“The three largest brands make up 88.2 per cent of the whole market share, while the 11.8 per cent left divides for all small players like TCL and Asanzo, brands that are being neglected such as Sharp, Toshiba, and new names like Casper and Mobell,” said Le Van Tien, an expert working at a leading TV production facility.

“In the 10 per cent of market share, TCL is accounting for 5 per cent, while Asanzo is capturing 3 per cent, focusing on customers in rural areas. Quite simply, the space for Japanese brands which used to be popular is going to get much smaller and shrink away,” added Tien.

In 2015, Toshiba Corporation stopped making and selling TVs in North America, licensing its brand to Taiwanese group Compal after deeming the US market too competitive. This company licensed its TV business in various other markets in an effort to cut costs and launch higher-end televisions, but price competition remains harsh, according to Reuters.

Nguyen Quang Huy, head of sales and marketing at Toshiba Vietnam, said that after decades of Toshiba TVs being manufactured in Vietnam, they were then imported from Indonesia. However, even imports eventually ceased.

Facing the same woes, Panasonic Corporation transferred its unprofitable Sanyo TV unit in the United States to another company, and decided to stop the production of panels for TVs in 2016. The manufacturer blamed the situation on the unprofitable production of TV displays and increased competition from Chinese, Taiwanese, and South Korean counterparts.

In 2019, Panasonic Corporation announced its decision to stop production of LCD panels. This activity is part of the group’s restructuring plan for business operations. All resources of this company such as technology lines and human resources will be optimised to serve other key areas of the Panasonic Group.

In Vietnam, the number of TVs manufactured by Panasonic sharply decreased over the last couple of years, according to distributors. Despite still being showcased in some electronics marts, Dien May Xanh has halted display of the brand altogether.

In 2019, Panasonic Corporation announced its decision to stop the production of LCD panels at Panasonic Liquid Crystal Display Co., Ltd. (Himeji city, Japan) – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Panasonic Group. This activity is part of the group's restructuring plan for its business operations. All resources of this company such as technology lines and human resources will be optimised to serve other key areas of Panasonic Group, especially the Business to Business (B2B) sector.

By stopping LCD panel production, Panasonic aims to focus resources on B2B production and other business lines with the aim of bringing greater value to consumers and society.

Moving forward, in Vietnam, Panasonic Vietnam announced the transformation from a general consumer electronics company to a total wellness solutions providing company, defining a new strategic vision to develop technology to better serve the needs of people and for a sustainable Vietnamese society, at the end of 2020, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Panasonic’s official presence in the country (1971-1921).

Panasonic's global production and business activities are always pursuing the business philosophy of “Contributing to society” set forth by the group's founders more than 100 years ago. Previously, Panasonic focused on the strength of high-quality entertainment products at affordable prices, then with the awareness of urgent social issues in Vietnam such as air and water pollution, food hygiene, and safety, among others, Panasonic has shifted its focus on total wellness solutions for consumers.

Specifically, Panasonic Vietnam introduced its Strategic vision, pioneering in human-oriented technology with the mission: “Passion for your health & comfort”. With that determination, Panasonic focuses on both business (B2B) and consumer (B2C) businesses, presenting Total Wellness Solutions including three suites of solutions: (1) Total air solutions to improve indoor air quality; (2) Total hygiene solutions to improve hygiene quality of living space; (3) Total healthcare solutions to improve people’s health, bringing a balanced body, beauty, and appearance with kitchen products and beauty care equipment. Panasonic provides total air solutions for office buildings, hotels, clinics, and homes for a clean, healthy atmosphere. At the same time, consumers can also access and enjoy outstanding benefits from Panasonic's total healthcare solutions. (Source: Panasonic press release)

Panasonic Vietnam declared its new business value proposition: changing from consumer electronics to wellness solutions providing company; and officially launched its total wellness solutions with a commitment of bringing a healthy, safe and convenient life for Vietnamese people.

Although Sharp is focusing on its LCD units, after also selling all its TV business and manufacturing facilities in the US in 2015, in Vietnam its TV sets, which used to be imported from Malaysia and Thailand in small quantities, are causing losses.

The disappearance of such formerly-popular TV brands is not a new phenomenon. People saw the death of traditional TVs along with such brands as National, Viettronic, and Hitachi in the 1980s and 1990s in Vietnam. “Success should be attributed to non-stop innovation and improvement,” said Tien.

By Hara Nguyen

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