Recently we got to opportunity to speak to Takakiyo Fujita, Managing Director, Sony Middle East & Africa about the recent past, present and future of the company in the region.
How was the last year for Sony considering the pandemic and its ever-lasting effect on business?
The global pandemic brought us into the ‘new normal’ and changed the way people live over the past year. Navigating through the new normal, boundaries between home and office have been blurred. Communities have moved to remote working and online learning while various industries shifted and transformed their ways of doing business through digital means to ensure business continuity.
While the crisis generated a lot of challenges, it has also created opportunities particularly in the technology sector. For us at Sony, we look at the pandemic as a way to highlight our products that enable people to thrive and be productive in this new normal.
Considering Sony’s wide portfolio of products, which categories did well and which suffered? Did the ‘new normal’ bring about any changes in consumer behavior Sony wasn’t expecting? For example, were there any products that consumers came to Sony specifically for?
During the pandemic and the shift to what we now call as the ‘new normal’, consumer behavior has also changed. As majority of people are staying home, video on demand (VOD) and streaming platforms have also increased such as Netflix, Shahid, Amazon Prime Video, Starplayz and Apple TV+ among others. This opportunity resulted in many consumers purchasing large-screen TVs for a unique home entertainment experience. We have seen an increased demand for our Bravia TVs from 55-inches and above.
Vlogging has also been on the rise as more and more people are looking for ways to entertain and simultaneously earn during this season. Those who were using their mobile phones to document their everyday lives have also shifted to having proper vlogging gears to better create online contents.
At a time when vloggers and content creators are creating more video content than ever before, Sony ZV-1 camera provides the best functions and features needed in vlogging such as the product showcase setting best for make-up vlogging; Bokeh switch function for great food photos; face priority and advanced colour science for travel videos.
The increase in popularity in gaming also increased our sales in our Bravia TVs. Other products that were in demand during the pandemic are noise cancelling headphones such as WH-1000XM4 and our XB Extra Bass wireless speakers.
What are Sony’s plans for the region in 2021? What products should consumers be excited for this year?
Sony is committed to developing a refreshed line-up of products each year to cater to evolving consumer needs. During CES 2021, we announced many new technologies based on the theme of “Redefining Our Future with Tomorrow’s Technologies”.
The television category is a key driver for business growth and an integral part of our product strategy for 2021. Which is why, we are proud to launch our new TV product range in the region – the new Bravia XR, which features the world’s first Cognitive Processor XR. This new processor uses a completely new processing method that goes beyond conventional artificial intelligence (AI), designed to replicate the ways humans see and hear.
We are also amplifying the digital imaging division with the launch of new Cinema Line cameras – FX6 and FX3, as well as the groundbreaking new full-frame mirrorless Alpha 1 camera – asserting our commitment to leading the industry with a stunning combination of innovative new features for professional imaging. Recently, we launched three outstanding G Lenses to our impressive E-mount line-up – the FE 50mm F2.5 G (model SEL50F25G), FE 40mm F2.5 G (model SEL40F25G) and FE 24mm F2.8 G (model SEL24F28G). All three lenses deliver high image quality and beautiful bokeh in a lightweight and compact design, perfect for photographers and videographers alike who strive for standout shots and easy mobility.
Other products include:
- New line-up of soundbars perfect for enjoying TV and movies with powerful and immersive cinematic surround sound with clear dialogue. Among the current product recently launched was HT-G700, a 3.1ch Dolby Atmos® and DTS:X soundbar with Immersive Audio Enhancement that provides an upgraded surround experience- seamlessly enveloping listeners with up to 7.1.2 channel surround sound.
- New Noise Cancelling audio products such as the WH-1000XM4, the 4th generation over-ear wireless noise cancelling headphones.
- The SRS-RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 latest premium wireless speakers. They are equipped with Sony’s unique spatial sound technologies and packed with smart features. Unlike most speakers that spread sound horizontally, these speakers spread background music both horizontally (wall-to-wall) and vertically (floor-to-ceiling) with Immersive Audio Enhancement and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio content playback.
Which are Sony’s priority markets in the region?
The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region represents a key growth market for Sony across several product segments – including televisions, digital imaging and audio products. We will continue to focus on expanding our product line-up in 2021 and looking at growing our existing customer base particularly the Arabic-speaking consumers across the region particularly in key markets in the GCC such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE as well as in Egypt. These countries are home to young and tech-savvy customers that often look to upgrade their devices and keep up with the latest innovations – and Sony aims to deliver products that are aligned with customer tastes and preferences. As the spread and influence of technology continues to be a key driver of change across the globe, consumers are adopting a more modern, convenient lifestyle with technology as a key enabler. We will keep listening to our customers, their needs and how technology can improve their experiences. We will strive to bring the latest technologies to the region.
What are your expectations for 2021?
We plan to continue to grow the volume of our business and we are positive that our business development strategy will place us in a strong position to continue to gain market share across different categories including television, digital imaging and audio products. The year-on-year growth that we achieved over the years is a testament to the strength of Sony and the customers that continue to trust us. We expect that Sony will continue to be recognized by our valued customers in the region as an innovative technology brand that is part of their lifestyle for many years.