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Sony relinks its lines: new structure for lifestyle marketing.

TEANECK, N.J.--Sony Electronics Inc. will restructure marketing operations of its consumer products group into three divisions. The realignment, disclosed last week during the company's 1996 product rollout here, will become operative April 1.

Sony has distinct operations for selling and marketing. The restructuring will not affect the sales segment. Sony plans to take a more comprehensive and strategic approach to all marketing, including advertising and promotions.

John Briesch, president of Sony's consumer products group, said the move was made to increase and improve the company's focus on "lifestyle" marketing.

Currently, the consumer products group is divided into two divisions: audio and video. Under the new organization there will be three divisions--home audio/video, autosound and car navigation, and personal audio/video--all with related products and each headed by a senior vice president.

Fujio Nishida will head the home audio/video marketing division that has all TV, VCR, DSS and hi-fi products.

Nishida joined Sony's U.S. office after a three-year stint in the company's Australian branch, where he was director and general manager.

A mobile electronics marketing division will handle autosound and car navigation products. Its senior vice president is Marty Homlish, who recently moved over from Sony Computer Entertainment America.

The third product unit, the personal audio/video marketing division, headed by Mark Viken, includes handheld and portable audio products, accessories and camcorders.

In addition, Sony created a new area for all DVD development. This arm of the consumer products division, called new business development and new product planning, will be led by Jim Bonan, vice president. Previously, he was vice president of home video products.

A new Sony feature called S-Link is being incorporated into audio/video products as an example of what the company hopes to develop under the new organization.

S-Link is one wire that ties together various components, making for one-touch operation for an entire system.

According to Nishida, it was fostered by Sony's marketing staff, and was not created by Sony's engineers.

About two dozen S-Link products--receivers, CD players, cassette decks, TVs and VCRs--will be available this month.

The products are representative of Sony's new lifestyle marketing approach to consumers who want seamless operation.

For example, with S-Link, when the user puts a tape into the VCR, the TV automatically turns on and the receiver automatically goes to VCR mode. The components can be controlled with one remote.

Sony said it is working on an in-store demonstration model of S-Link.

Bill Cubellis, marketing manager for home video, said the S-Link technology makes the items easier to use, especially in home theater setups.

Sony also is rolling out its first 35-inch color Trinitron TVs. Two models, a tabletop set and an integrated console design with interchangeable panels, are equipped with S-Link and are scheduled to ship this summer.

According to a Sony spokeswoman, prices are expected to be set within the next two months. Sony said it would get into to the 35-inch market last November. The 35-inch Trinitrons are now Sony's largest direct-view TVs, and will compete with 35-inch direct-view models from Sharp, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Zenith, and Thomson's RCA and GE brands.

Sony's Trinitrons have vertically flat screens to provide a sharper and brighter picture that extends to the corners of the screen.
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Author:Bloomfield, Judy; Olenick, Doug
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Mar 4, 1996
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