Panasonic on completing 100 years has embarked on a transformation to create products that will be guided by consumer's choice.
Panasonic on completing 100 years has embarked on a transformation to create products that will be guided by consumer’s choice. It will launch products and services which will evolve with consumers reflecting their personal preferences and way of life. For this, the Japanese electronics giant will leverage artificial intelligence, big data and real-time analytics.
Last month, Panasonic president Kazuhiro Tsuga invited business associates and customers from across the globe for its Cross Value Innovation Forum 2018, an event celebrating its last 100 years and charting the course for the next hundred.
Changing course for a company as huge as Panasonic that makes almost everything from lights to car batteries is not a small feat. Since 2012, when Panasonic had reported a net loss of over $10 billion, the company has taken several steps to check its declining market share.
Notable among them was to exit the loss-making plasma TV business, a huge step considering TVs played a major role in making it a global brand. Besides, the company was not only losing market presence worldwide, but was being outmanoeuvred by Chinese, South Koreans and Taiwanese companies.
Panasonic has diverted focus to corporate customers and is moving towards automobile electronics, car batteries, data-storage devices, etc. For instance, the company is now partnering with its corporate customers to sell products like compact living spaces, which come loaded with smart devices and connected appliances, targeted for metro cities where housing costs are huge. So when Tsuga opened the Cross Value Innovation Forum in Tokyo, the first thing that he said was, “On 100 years, I must question myself on the meaning of existence of Panasonic? And this has all started from the philosophy — a tomorrow more than today.”
He explained this by introducing the business concept – lifestyle update. Tsuga said traditionally Panasonic served consumers by upgrading consumer electronics, home appliances and developing them to counter competition. However, now it is shifting to a strategy of providing ‘lifestyle updates’, which mean products and services will evolve with consumers reflecting their personal preferences and way of life. This, coupled with trends in mobility, diversifying lifestyles and stress on personal preferences, will create opportunities for Panasonic on a global scale.
Citing examples, Tsuga pointed towards the connected home solution – HomeX, which aims to create new value in daily living through user-experience and user-interface-focused design. “HomeX is always connected with the resident 24/7. It is a total information infrastructure that understands what inhabitant wants by season or depending on weather conditions and can even call up the right music based on a person’s mood,” he explained.
Another example is its work with China’s biggest hot-pot restaurant chain, Hai Di Lao Hot Pot, which has more than 360 outlets and 50,000 employees. “Hai Di Lao Hot Pot is using our robot arms at one of its restaurants in Beijing to automate food preparation process and other automated systems are permitting customers to adjust ingredients whenever they want,” he added.
Yet another is its partnership with Chinese construction software developer Glodon and Beijing Linkdata Technologies, a battery-focused energy management company. Here Panasonic’s vacuum-insulated glass technology is being used on temporary housing units for construction workers. These units can be constructed and put in place within two months and can easily be personalised and transported. They are ideal for places with housing shortages such as Dubai or Mumbai.
On the future of home appliances and consumer electronics business, Tsuga said a comprehensive view needs to be taken on how they support people’s lifestyle. “It’s an age where one can always upgrade.
In Japan, we tend to discard products without thinking about updating it. It not that one should always upgrade things and discard the old, we can also look at updating it. Next step is to change the way you design. “Panasonic will develop products and services with the assumption that they will be customised as per consumer’s choice. No company that strays from peoples’ happiness will survive,” Tsuga said.
(Travel for this report was sponsored by Panasonic India)