Chang Seng Hock
Jun 11, 2014

How Sony snagged second place from Apple in Asia’s Top 1000 Brands

SINGAPORE - Sony overtook Apple in this year's Asia Top 1000 Brands ranking (released yesterday), so we asked the company to share the tactics and philosophies it has pursued recently to boost its image and evolve its marketing in Asia. Chang Seng Hock, deputy director Sony Southeast Asia, gives the inside view, which holds insights for all marketers looking to better bridge the gap between their brand and APAC consumers.

How Sony snagged second place from Apple in Asia’s Top 1000 Brands

2013 was a year where Sony brought its marketing activities to the next level. We challenged ourselves to engage customers differently by engaging them in their backyard with bespoke activities. We focused on understanding our customers and their evolving lifestyles to create new product segments that anticipated their needs.

In 2013, we upped the level of engaging communities where our customers lived and played. In addition to sponsoring events where we could be visible to them, we extended our reach by creating tailored experience sessions with targeted communities to actively engage their members. These platforms not only allowed us to enable the customer to experience our products first hand but also gave us insights into their thoughts on our products. 

We created initiatives which allowed the customers to get to know us better such as increasing the frequency and improving the engagement factor of our Sony Imaging Workshops across Southeast Asia. We also developed a much requested Alpha ‘Lens Library’ programme and test pilot in Singapore, where ‘My Sony’ members and existing and new owners of Alpha cameras can loan and test any lens before purchase

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Our retail platforms are a fantastic way for Sony to collect and analyse the voice of our customers (VOC). In 2013, we continued to focus on collecting, fine tuning and improving our analysis of customers’ feedback. The deeper analysis of retail outlets’ sales data and VOC has allowed us to make real time decisions to improve customer service and product fine tuning; resulting in a more targeted offering and communication effort. 

In line with this, we opened two new Sony stores in Singapore at nex Mall and [email protected] mall in 2014. Sony continues to invest in the 'One Sony' vision retail concept, bringing together all that Sony Electronics, Sony Mobile, Sony Pictures, Sony Music and Sony Computer Entertainment can offer under one roof. Covering an expansive space of 9,902 square feet, the Sony Store [email protected] is South East Asia’s largest and will be used by Sony Music and Sony Pictures to host meet-and-greets with its local and international artistes and screenings of exclusive trailers and sneak peeks of coming games.

On the digital front, Sony launched the 'Sony - Power of Imaging Southeast Asia' Facebook Page, its first online community for camera enthusiasts. The page showcases images taken with Sony cameras from professional photographers, as well as contributing members of the public who are looking for an avenue to share their pictures. This gives us a channel to not only bring relevant product releases and information to our target audience, but also bridge the gap between our brand and our consumers to develop a stronger brand following.

By anticipating consumers’ needs, we created new product segments that pushed the envelope of innovation, namely the high-resolution audio, music video recorder, QX lens camera, Alpha 7 series and the PS4 sharing screen feature. Each of these first-to-market technology disrupters either satisfied a long-standing customer desire or anticipated a need that consumers had yet to realise could be satisfied.

Consumers are moving away from the practise of compromising audio quality while enjoying music on-the-go. Instead we are seeing consumers seeking high-resolution audio files to truly enjoy music as if they were at a live performance or recording studio. Sony is committed to high-resolution audio and has invested in understanding how consumers in Asia listen to music content. Looking ahead in 2014, Sony will actively engage consumers to communicate about the technology, such as creating an app that highlights the difference between high-resolution audio file formats and other file formats.

Professional photographers and enthusiasts have for years been demanding an ideal camera that marries imaging power and portability. Sony set a new benchmark in the digital imaging industry with our award-winning Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R full-frame palm-sized interchangeable lens cameras. We introduced the cameras to the photography community with intimate engagement sessions where professional photographers and enthusiasts experienced the cameras through tailored photo tours and photo walkabout sessions.

Consumers were often restricted by the quality of their mobile phone cameras when capturing precious life moments and the perfect selfie. The Cyber-shot™ DSC-QX series lens-style cameras introduced the world to a new concept of mobile phone photography capturing high quality photos with unique photography angles. The best way of showing consumers what the lens style camera could do was to put it in the hands of the most discerning mobile phone photographers and the selfie generation – the Instagramers. Sony collaborated with key instagramers in Asia and let them use the lens style cameras to do what they did best.

With the advent of YouTube bedroom artistes taking the world by storm, our Handycam team developed a unique music video recorder for consumers to shoot and share video with studio-quality sound. To raise awareness of this new product segment, Sony together with Sony Music collaborated with local music influencers such as Sezairi Sezali and the Island Room Studio, which saw Jack and Rai, Natalie Hiong, Bevelyn Khoo and Trick! using the new HDR-MV1 and creating buzz on social media platforms.

Social interaction is central to gaming where players come together as a community to compete and collaborate online with the sharing of gameplay videos, tips and tricks online. With the PlayStation®4 (PS4™), new features were built into the actual foundation of the system’s hardware architecture that enables seamless uploading of gameplay. Gamers can share their images and videos to their friends on social networking services such as Facebook. PS4 also enhances social spectating by enabling gamers to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to friends using live internet streaming services such as Ustream.

In 2013, we realised that despite understanding our customers and anticipating their needs, our customers still surprised us with their requests. We must continue to challenge ourselves to be better, faster. In 2014, we will not be resting on our laurels but instead will continue to engage with our customers with the aim of continued evolution on the marketing front.

Chang Seng Hock is deputy director, head, sales AHQ centre, Sony Southeast Asia (A division company of Sony Electronics (S) Pte Ltd)

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