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Sony Focuses on Independent Dealer Channel for 3D Strategy

Marketing, merchandising and sales programs can be tailored to groups or individual specialty retailers

February 17, 2010 By Jeff O'Heir
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As Sony gears up for the launch of its new line of 3D TVs this summer, specialty dealers will receive extra attention from the company in terms of merchandising and marketing tools, and focused training.

"We're trying to get closer to groups like the specialty dealers," said Paul Spitale, Sony's senior vice president of consumer sales, during a press event and dealer line show Tuesday at the company's San Diego headquarters. "We think those people have more voice in that area of products."

About 540 dealers attended the line show, which featured most of the company's 2010 products and samples of the new merchandising kiosks and marketing collateral. Last year, many specialty and independent dealers complained that they lost sales and marketing support from Sony as the company focused on the big-box stores to drive volume. Dealers also complained of a lackluster product set that was overshadowed by sexier and more advanced TVs from the likes of Samsung and LG.

Sony executives said they are committed to repairing those relationships and delivering stronger products, especially around 3D technology. At the line show, company executives arranged a special meeting with members of the PRO Group - including Dave Workman, executive director, and Mike Temiz, president of 6th Avenue Electronics - to discuss merchandising, marketing and sales strategies.

"The meeting was about how we bring the Sony messaging to dealers and how we (as a group) can deliver the full Sony experience to the consumer," Spitale said. "(Specialty dealers) will be part of all our discussions."

Sony is working on delivering merchandising and marketing strategies that will work for a group of similar dealers and for individual dealers with special needs, Spitale said, adding that dealers should work with their sales reps to figure out the best solutions.

Included in the merchandising solutions are retrofitted retail displays with push-buttons, which activate videos that display information about Sony's 3D TVs and other video solutions. The screens on some of those displays can also be linked to a remotely managed server, which allows a retailer to deliver customized messaging from a centralized or off-site location, said Mike Fasulo, Sony's executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Touch screens can also be added to the displays. The displays designed for 3D solutions will include a switch for 2D viewing and will tie in other products, such as a 3D Blu-ray player. They will include tethered active-shutter glasses and can include a "barrier" to block interference between the TV's emitter and the glasses, Fasulo said.


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