Consumer Research Guides Sony Product Design for the Holidays
Dec 19, 2006
With the holidays upon us, Sony Electronics is tapping into customer research to help refine products that make the perfect gifts.
Through an array of consumer research initiatives, including surveys, focus groups, on the spot interviews with customers at various locations, syndicated and communications research, metrics tracking and customer relationship management, Sony is asking consumers what they expect from its products.
"We want to combine consumer insight from market research with strong engineering minds to market innovative products that consumers will want to give as gifts at this time of year," said Chris Gaebler, vice president of marketing and strategy for Sony Electronics in the U.S. "This research is essential for us to continue to provide products that bring joy to people's lives. We want our customers to know they have a voice and we are listening."
Sony has made some of its most popular products for this season available for consumer analysis, including the Sony® Reader electronic book, BRAVIA™ flat-panel LCD televisions, Cyber-shot® digital cameras, Nav-U™ portable navigation systems, and the new mylo™ personal communicator.
Accordingly to Gaebler, consumer feedback has lead to key product design or marketing changes that have made certain products even more appealing and user-friendly.
For example, consumer focus groups in the U.S. reviewing a preliminary design for the Sony® Reader found the multitude of buttons made navigating a bit difficult, and that the alkaline batteries originally specified to power the unit were cumbersome. Sony engineers made changes based upon this input in the final design, including replacing alkaline batteries with rechargeable ones, and a simpler button configuration.
"We are so pleased with the design of the Reader product and we're expecting the high demand to continue this holiday season," said Ron Hawkins, vice president of portable reader systems.
Sony television designs benefit from consumer feedback as well. Consumer research helps the company determine what sizes to manufacture its rear-projection televisions as well as what colors are most popular for its BRAVIA LCD TV color bezel options. The redesigned products mean consumers can find Sony's quality televisions in the sizes and colors that best fit their homes.
More than 850 consumers put one of Sony's newest products, the mylo personal communicator, to the test, providing feedback through focus groups and an online survey. This information helped determine the target consumers for the product, how they would use it, what features they would use, what additional features they would like, and whether the purpose of the product is clear.
Learning about consumers' lifestyles is also important to product development. With that in mind, Sony is researching how consumers share their digital photos, including how they print, store and download them.
The company's latest line of Cyber-shot® digital cameras took into account consumer suggestions, feeling that at the time they didn't see a need for a wireless WiFi feature in the N-series models, and the addition of touch-screen technology in the T-series cameras.
Focus groups were also used to help determine which colors should be made available for the cameras. As a result, red was offered as a color option for the DSC-T50 Cyber-shot model.
Feedback from women customers, who now represent more than half of the consumer electronics purchasing power, has been extremely beneficial to Sony, according to Gaebler. SonyStyle stores, which were designed with the female shopper in mind, are ready for the holiday season. The stores are stocked with the latest products designed to meet consumers' wishes, including VAIO® notebook computers in various graphic splash color choices. Customers who spend $200 or more will also receive a sachet with an exclusive Sony Style holiday scent.
"Personalization and customization options are two ways our products are differentiated to meet the tastes of both male and female consumers, while contributing to the high standards of the Sony brand," Gaebler said.
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SOURCE: Sony Electronics
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