Cambodia Investment Review sat down with Yasunobu Matsumoto Country Head of Panasonic Asia Pacific, Cambodia Branch to discuss the company’s role as the market leader as well as their future plans for growth in Cambodia.
Originally formed in 1918 by Konosuke Matsushita a vendor of lamp sockets, the Panasonic Corporation is now one of the biggest consumer electronic brands in the world having more than 240,000 employees working across the globe. Now as Cambodia races to become a middle-income country by 2030 and Khmer consumer trends change, the company is increasingly prioritizing the Cambodian market.
While the brand has long been seen in Cambodia it was not until 2010 that Panasonic Cambodia was set up as a representative office of Panasonic Corporation. Currently the local branch’s core responsibilities are to facilitate sales & marketing activities for dealers/ distributor partners and provide aftermarket care of the product to both B2B & B2C sectors
In addition, with regards to the marketing of the brand, of which the company has been extremely active of late. Panasonic recently became one of the major sponsors of the Cambodian Premier League of which the wider Japanese business community in Cambodia is also heavily involved.
While the company is well known for many products, it is in the lucrative and extremely competitive Air-Conditioning market where the company is currently dominating.
Panasonic Cambodia as market leaders
According to Panasonic the brand currently controls a major share in consumer household electronics market when it comes to Air Conditioner units sold locally and this was for a number of reasons according to Yasunobu.
“There are of course cheaper units on the market, but we have found that people here trust Japanese products. This is something that is growing particularly important as people have more money and obviously want to do best by their families,” he added.
It is the economic growth in Cambodia that is also proving a driving force for Panasonic and its commitment to the country with Yasunobu adding: “Cambodia has seen rapid economic growth and transformation while continually being one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Cambodia has a young population with over 70 percent of people under 40. These people have money to spend on consumer goods and they want the kind of quality that Panasonic provides”.
To read more about Cambodia’s economic outlook in 2022 click here.
Cambodia’s developing status he added has made the local market potentially more attractive than regionally countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, for example, with the Panasonic team stating: “These countries have already been introduced to various different consumer brands. The developing status of Cambodia means that it is still a lucrative market with enormous scope for expansion. Essentially it has not been saturated yet and people are still very open to new products and ideas”.
Panasonic Cambodia and the real-estate market
Panasonic has also been involved with the expanding real-estate market seeing the potential for huge growth, particularly with their market-leading air-conditioning systems, particularly with regards to the proprietary technology of their nanoeX units.
“The nanoeX was created to fight and kill germs using capsules of water containing an abundance of OH radicals. Although we actually invented this prior to Covid-19 it has taken on particular importance since then. This is now our flagship product for B2B sales, such as to housing developments and malls. The nanoeX now boasts a number of important customers, such as the Malaysian parliament, car manufacturers such as Toyota, Jaguar and Japanese mass transport systems for example.
In this respect, the company added it was brand recognition for both the nanoeX and their units, in general, that would help keep them as market leaders in the B2B sector, despite the emergence of cheaper products from other markets.
Future expansion of Panasonic within Cambodia
Growing the sales of more consumer goods and the future establishment of a national sales organization in Cambodia is very much on Panasonic’s radars.
“Currently we have just a branch office in Cambodia that employs around 50 Cambodians, as well as foreigners. Not to mention those already employed and supported by the numerous distributors and dealers already selling their products within the country.
It is currently our plan to transition this branch office to a full national sales organization. This move will not only emphasize the importance that the country holds for us but also create much more employment opportunities from Panasonic,” Yasunobu said.
The move he added had long since been a priority for the company and had only been delayed by the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, which while not drastically affecting sales had disrupted their ability to satisfy demand: “At times it was not about not being able to sell, but quite simply about not being able to process orders due to the immense effect on global supply chains”.
This would though at least in the short-term not be expanded to production in Cambodia, despite high-end electronic production now being pioneered at places such as the Japanese ran Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, with a representative adding: “Our production for Cambodia is currently concentrated in Malaysia and Thailand and while quality (of electronic production) is improving in the country we do not feel it is yet ready to deliver the high standards that we require at Panasonic”.
Corporate sponsorship from Panasonic in Cambodia
As well as wanting to increase brand awareness through the sponsoring of events and competitions it was also part of the brand’s vision for corporate responsibility with Yasunobu adding: “Part of the reason we have sponsored the main football competition in Cambodia is to help support the country in developing young players through training coaching and sponsorship. This is also something the wider Japanese business community in Cambodia are also heavily involved with and Panasonic are committed to globally”.
Panasonic added that they have the highest level of sponsorship for Olympic and Paralympic Games- Tokyo 2020 through the Olympic Games -Paris in 2024 and was also a sponsor of both the Paralympic and Olympic games that were recently held in Tokyo.