Having selected Panama as the hub for its Latin American operations 43 years ago, Panasonic was one of the first Japanese companies to recognize the advantage of the country’s geographical location.
In charge of 10 markets, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and the rest of the Caribbean, Panasonic Latin America, S.A. has played a major role in expanding the Japanese company’s business in a market comprising 180 million people.
“Panama has a geographical advantage, which allows us to manage the rest of our Latin America operations from here. Its duty-free ports and financial system are also significant advantages,” said President Hiroki Kaji.
With Latin America currently representing approximately 10 percent of global sales, there is great optimism on the enormous growth potential of the region.
“Latin American countries are steadily growing, and so our company is steadily growing as well. We have gone from a $300 million business to a $500 million business in recent years,” said Kaji.
Panasonic has focused its marketing efforts on its audio-visual and digital products, which account for 70 percent of sales, from TVs and audio-visual products.
Another 15 percent comes from home appliances, like air conditioning and other white goods, while the rest is from system products, such as professional video equipment, projectors and communications products.
As competition from other Asian manufacturers of television and audio-visuals increases, Panasonic has had to adapt its marketing game plan.
“We began shifting our strategy three years ago by introducing new product lines, like home appliances such as the inverter series of air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines. In lighting (fluorescent and LED), we have focused on providing energy-saving technology, which is our big advantage over our peers,” said Kaji.
In a solid push to promote the use of eco-friendly and energy saving solutions to its customers, Panasonic has embarked on a visionary campaign to educate both its global and Latin American markets on the merits of going green, and position itself as the industry leader in green initiatives.
“We contribute by teaching that it is not only about consuming the product. We need to think about how to propose efficiency in order to coexist with the environment. This is a very important mission for us as a manufacturer,” said Kaji.
“We are also proposing to recycle energy using the sun. In Latin America, we have a distinct geographical advantage because we have higher radiation levels here than in other parts of the world. We are creating new business and we want to expand this concept,” he added.
Panasonic has begun offering solutions for the creation of clean energy, clean electricity and energy-saving products, thus creating a new business that has been widely accepted and well received by old and new clients alike.
“We have also moved into creating energy, not only saving it. We achieve this by offering more than just solar panels. We create solution packages and offer added-value services. We started showcasing our new line in a few countries and received an excellent response. We were recently awarded an order of 4,000 solar panels, and that was only for one project. The potential here is unlimited. We envision this new business model to grow into a $100 million business in the next three years,” said Kaji.
Time and time again, Panasonic has shown the importance and value of innovation and flexibility.
Paired with its commitment to social development through its business, that focus has also placed the company in a good position to enhance the quality of life not only in Latin America, but throughout the world.
As Panasonic continues to enjoy tremendous domestic success in Japan, it also remains steadfast in its efforts to expand its impact on the world through its innovative, eco-friendly products.
“We have a very strong performance in the Japanese market compared to our peers, and that says a lot. We have total solutions for home-related products, and we want to bring that to different markets outside Japan,” he said.
“We are building additional values, such as energy saving, energy creating and, in the future, energy management. We are transforming from a commodity sales company to a solutions provider,” he added.