Magazine article Marketing

Sharp's Image Makeover

Magazine article Marketing

Sharp's Image Makeover

Article excerpt

Can passe consumer electronics brands ever really engineer a full-scale revival, asks Suzy Bashford.

In the fast-moving consumer electronics category, nothing is more important than a clear marketing strategy that includes the presentation of a brand's latest technological advances with a stylish image. If high-tech brands fail to continually invest in both product and promotion, they are left behind. Sharp has learned this to its cost, which is why it is embarking on a high-profile relaunch in Europe (Marketing, 9 March).

'There is a strong correlation between marketing spend and share, and we hadn't invested as much as other brands,' admits Sharp's UK marketing communications manager, Martin Arnold. 'We're addressing that now. While we didn't disappear, we lacked an interesting, credible and readily identifiable story.'

Sharp hopes to redeem itself with an ad campaign, created by Work Club, promoting the brand's sponsorship of cycling and football's European Championship in 2012 (see box). It also plans to create a TV optimised for watching football, which it will launch in mid-2012.

Innovation with style

Its strategy may be brave, but the question remains as to whether technology brands that have fallen out of fashion like this can ever really regain lost ground, particularly in a category that is all about 'the next big thing'.

It is possible, says Mintel consumer technology analyst Nathan Laryea, citing the dramatic impact of the Wii console on the fortunes of gaming brand Nintendo, and the turnaround at Apple, which, before it launched the iPod, was struggling.

'For companies that have fallen out of favour, it is important to build a distinct image, because consumer technology markets are now, more than ever, linked to the fashion and stylistic preferences of individuals,' he adds.

While these brands have climbed back to the top of their game, there are many more examples of brands consigned to the consumer-electronics scrapheap. The fact that Sanyo has recently given up its prominent display at Piccadilly Circus is testament to one such fall from favour.

The TV market is a key battleground. While its value is falling as manufacturers introduce cheaper products to the UK, according to Euromonitor, TVs still offer brands a gateway into the home. With this comes the coveted opportunity to forge an emotional connection. From there, brands hope to lure consumers to their broader ranges - which, for Sharp, includes fridges, microwaves and solar panels.

Collectively, brands have realised that innovation alone is not enough, and complicated acronyms do not make for the most effective marketing.

LG is ahead of the game with its long-running 'Life's Good' positioning 'Our strapline keeps LG real,' says Paul Trueman, its group marketing director, who says his mission is to demystify technological jargon. …

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