Mr. Dinakaran, General Manager for Africa Sales at Sony Middle East and Africa
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Four or five years ago Sony was a brand to reckon with in Kenya. Having a Sony anything, was a sign of stature, class and gave you quite some bragging rights. Fast forward to 2017 and the market that was once dominated by Sony, is now under threat from new entrants such as Hisense, who seem determined to take the crown away from the veterans, well, Sony is not ready to let go of their hard-earned market share.

According to Sony, the company has well over 1 million customers in Africa alone, we are not sure of the exact numbers that Sony possesses in Kenya, but the company is confident that their presence is quite solid in Kenya. In the past, well before the likes of Hisense were known, Sony was a brand that did not need much advertising, but that has since changed. Aggressive marketing and brand awareness campaigns from the competition has pushed Sony to rethink their strategy and refocus their strengths to what really matters, brand recognition.

Digital and Experiential Marketing

Sony’s new strategy is highly dominated by digital marketing. The company says that in this day and age, an online presence is as good as an offline one and as a result, they have shifted gears and have started becoming quite vocal and visible to the general consumer. We spoke to Mr Dinakaran, the General Manager for Africa Sales at Sony Middle East and Africa, who told us that Sony is focusing on strong communication with the customers to maintain leadership in the Kenyan market. “In terms of our brand presence and market share in Kenya, we are quite strong and this is because of the product lineup that we have,” he added.

To complement their online presence, Sony Electronics will also focus on experiential marketing, which simply means that the company will use their partner brand shops, such as Anisuma, Gametronics and Carrefour, to offer a hands-on experience to all Sony fans. Mr Dinakaran hopes that once customer experiences, say Sony’s latest OLED TV, they will make the critical decision to purchase the TV.

Latest Products at Competitive Prices

One of the biggest challenges that a market like Kenya faces is, most manufacturers don’t ship their latest products locally in good time. It is very common to walk into an electronics shop, only to find 2016 units being branded as “new”. Sony Electronics told Techweez that their average time to bring in the latest products is around two months, Mr Dinakaran gave an example of the Sony HT-RT40 home theatre system that was introduced back at IFA 2017 and is already available in Kenyan stores for Ksh.42,995. At the moment, Sony products available in Kenya include Premium OLED TVs, Android TVs, Home theatres, Hi-Fi systems, Bluetooth speakers, noise-cancelling headphones and Digital SLR cameras.

We are fairly priced, I wouldn’t say that we are expensive…

When it comes to competitive pricing, there has been a long-standing assumption that Sony products are expensive, an assumption that Sony will have to fight off and according to Dinakaran, Sony products are not expensive. “We have products which cater to all segments of the market,” he says, “We are fairly priced, I wouldn’t say that we are expensive.” Mr Dinakaran says that the idea of Sony products being expensive, is a perception that the customers have, maybe because of the brand equity of Sony, he explains, “it’s a premium brand so it must be expensive, but the truth is, our prices are quite competitive.”

The biggest concern Kenyans have when it comes to electronics is warranty and after-sales services. Sony says that they have put this into thought and all their products have a warranty. Information on the warranty, including the period of the warranty and location of service centres, can be found on the warranty card which comes bundled with all genuine Sony products.

It has been an interesting year for Kenyan consumers, with global brands making their way back to the country, from Motorola, Nokia and now Sony and you know what they say, the more the merrier or as it applies to this scenario, the more, the cheaper.

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