Hitachi plans B1bn marketing push

Hitachi Sales (Thailand) Co Ltd will allocate 1 billion baht to build brand awareness and promote its home appliances to drive sales beyond the industry's growth rate this year.

About 200 million baht will be geared towards air conditioners.

Brand awareness of Hitachi air conditioners remains weak among Thai consumers. It has only a 5% market share of the total market at 1 million units a year, said Boonchai Putakotirat, senior manager for sales and marketing.

Hitachi is market leader in many home appliance categories.

The Japanese company has been slowing its media activities in Thailand over the last five years as the home appliance market has been very intense due to aggressive marketing by Korean brands.

Hitachi put more effort into assessing consumer demand, improving product displays and developing new distribution channels.

That approach has paid off, with sales jumping 2-3 times from the level of five years ago, Mr Boonchai said.

"We never have in mind to use a price-cutting strategy because it may destroy our brand image in the long term. We are confident we have enough products to compete in the market," he said.

Hitachi expects sales in the 2012 fiscal year ending March 31 will have grown by 30-40%, much higher than its earlier projection of only 15%.

"It's a record year for Hitachi. Major appliances have had a good performance, particularly air conditioners with growth of about 60%," Mr Boonchai said.

Apart from its huge marketing budget this year, the company will import more Japanese models to sell through 80 dealers across the country after having a good response from consumers.

It also plans to launch 50-60 new regular Hitachi items this year, aiming at boosting sales by 15% in the 2013 fiscal year.

Thailand's home appliance business grew by 10-15% to about 60 billion baht last year. The huge growth was due to customers buying replacement products after the massive flooding in 2011.

Based on the country's gross domestic product forecast, Hitachi expects the industry to grow by 10 % this year.

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