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Revised April 5, 2012
Sony Targets Laptop Consumers in China:
Segment Global or Local?
op yo Richard Lopez, product manager for Sony Corporation in Hong Kong, had one week to finalize his plan for marketing VAIO laptop computers in China before presenting it to senior management in January 2011. Lopez was struggling to decide which segment (or segments) to target and how to position VAIO for this segment.
At the heart of his struggle was an unusual problem—too much data. When Lopez started drafting his plan he was referencing three market research reports: a study on consumer values, qualitative interview data, and a segmentation study completed just two months earlier. Then in
December Sony’s vice …show more content…
In the early years of VAIO, this was an uncommon focus for a computer brand because laptop penetration relative to desktops was relatively low. Initially, this limited VAIO sales but it also gave the company an opportunity to gain a toehold in laptops, which began to outstrip desktop sales in the late 2000s.
In part because it was marketed as a statement computer, VAIO was largely seen by buyers as a computer for individual consumers and business professionals rather than as an enterprise brand for large or medium-sized businesses. Generally speaking, IT managers tended to resist paying extra for machines based on aesthetic design considerations and instead focused more on functional benefits. A further complication was that many businesses offered their employees laptops with a standardized suite of software programs, which did not typically include the programs normally offered as part of the VAIO package. This meant that IT managers who purchased VAIO often had to strip these programs from the laptop before distributing them to employees. Do
VAIO’s commitment to a premium position extended to China, where it enjoyed moderate success. (See Exhibit 1 for screenshots from the Sony website.) Copycats and counterfeits were also successful in the Chinese computer and software market, but VAIO was particularly attractive to a segment of consumers who placed a high value on not just functional attributes but also more