Robert Perry, Senior Vice President, Panasonic Display Group
Dealerscope: In this economic climate, what are the bright spots for the A/V community?
Perry: Interestingly enough, historically speaking, when the economy starts to slow down and consumers start changing their behavior, one of the behaviors they don’t change is how many televisions they purchase. When consumers are in a crunch—and today consumers are very concerned about gas prices—they tend to drive less. Instead of traveling away, they’re staying closer to home. And what we’re seeing is that consumers are still buying TVs and they’re buying them almost at exactly the same rate. For some consumers whose budgets are a little tighter, they may be selecting less-expensive models, but in the television business, since our price has declined year over year fairly substantially, the consumer is actually able to buy more television for the same amount of money. We are not really seeing any negative issues in terms of overall television demand as a result of the current economic climate.
DS: Panasonic’s displays range from the entry-level to the high-end. What can dealers do better to sell more premium and high-end products? RP: Our belief is in times like this, back to the basics is critical. Back to the basics means the basic blocking and tackling of merchandising, product demonstration and providing the consumers with an experience. Consumers have almost the same amount of money they had last year to buy televisions, and if we can show them a great experience and we can show them the value of that experience, there’s no question the consumer will continue to purchase.