Magazine article Marketing

Hitachi

Magazine article Marketing

Hitachi

Article excerpt

The electronics brand has upped its advertising, but consumer spend is in decline.

The electronics market has lost its spark, with Hitachi, Panasonic, Toshiba and Sony all announcing job cuts in response to declining sales.

Hitachi, which cemented its UK presence in the 80s, quickly established a strong brand profile alongside its rival Japanese brands. Its advertising, under the strapline 'Better buy Hitachi', promoted its products' ease of use, with ads in which power-dressing couples set their video-recorders before rushing out to dine.

The company was not afraid to tread fresh promotional ground. In 1979, it was the first sponsor to have its name printed on a football team's shirts, under a deal with Liverpool FC.

As Hitachi diversified away from the consumer market, it became a less familiar presence on TV screens and in UK households. But earlier this year, it returned to brand promotion with a TV campaign pushing its environmental credentials. Under the strapline 'All around you', the ads depicted urban consumers surrounded by trains, computers and mobile phones.

Big losses are expected for the current financial year, however, and Hitachi admits that revenue growth is 'unlikely for the foreseeable future'. It is also restructuring by turning its consumer and automotive arms into separately run companies.

We asked Dominic Chambers, European marketing director of manufacturer LG Electronics, and Nick Suckley, managing partner at digital agency agenda21, whose clients include Epson and SanDisk, how Hitachi can win back consumers.

DIAGNOSIS

- Two industry experts on how Hitachi can better engage with consumers

DOMINIC CHAMBERS, EUROPEAN MARKETING DIRECTOR, LG ELECTRONICS

Hitachi is one of the giants of post-war industrial Japan. It is a huge business that emerged onto the UK consumer electronics scene in the 80s. I can remember it being up there with Sony and Panasonic as one of the new Japanese brands to be considered in any electronics purchase. It had a strong reputation for innovation and quality and held a big share of the market.

Although Hitachi is still active in many product sectors, its brand presence has been absent and it trades on a residual awareness and authenticity.

The company has been using the 'Inspire the next' tagline for some time, but the recent TV commercial is far from inspirational, with a real dirge of a soundtrack and a lot of dark shots of an urban environment that make me feel quite depressed.

The other challenge for Hitachi is that it is now primarily an industrial business - it is supplying intercity trains to the UK - and this makes it hard to foster a premium and differentiated brand in the consumer market. …

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