SONY TESTING CAMPAIGN TO PUMP UP MINIDISCS

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Sony Electronics is testing a campaign to "re-energize" its MiniDisc after several slow years in the U.S.

Sony last week broke a campaign by Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, for players, recorders and blank discs, in Austin, Texas, and Rochester, N.Y.

10-MARKET EXPANSION

The effort will expand to 10 major markets in the fall, and the campaign's size will depend on the test's success.

"Austin and Rochester have very high 18-to-34 populations, and higher than national average income levels with a fair amount of disposable income," said Mark Viken, senior VP-Personal Audio/Video Marketing Division, Consumer Products Group.

The campaign will stress the MiniDisc's portability and its capacity for recording sound; a newspaper print ad carries the headline, "Why make a copy of your CD when you can make a clone?"

"We're re-energizing our effort, driven by its success in Japan, which has allowed us to drop prices," Mr. Viken said. "We've had reasonably good sales since 1992, and we've sold 1.3 million units worldwide this year."

The size of the portable players has shrunk by 30%, Mr. Viken said, and prices have fallen far more dramatically.

PRICE PLUNGING

At its December 1992 introduction, a portable MiniDisc player retailed in the U.S. at $549.95, and today it sells for $199.95, while the retail price for a blank 74-minute MiniDisc plunged to $9.99 from $16.99, Mr. Viken said.

If U.S. sales were sluggish in recent years, Mr. Viken said, "Price point was the big issue, not the ad campaign."

Advertising previously was handled by Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

And while blank MiniDiscs are far more expensive than blank cassettes, Mr. Viken sees the MiniDisc's virtues as a fair trade.

"The MiniDisc won't stretch or break the way tape can, and you can record and re-record a million times without losing quality," he said.

COMPETITION ABOUNDS

Sony isn't alone in re-energizing this

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