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The CCD FX630 camcorder

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Sony Corporation of America’s SteadyShot video camera was shown to be superior to other brands in a test promotion that Sony conducted in 55 cities. Hundreds of consumers tested the SteadyShot against other camcorder sharpshooters to see which held the steadiest picture. VP of personal video Jay Sato says the promotion was designed to generate interest in camcorders in general and especially in the SteadyShot. The new CCD FX630, which was introduced at the lower price of $1,099, compared to the original model’s price of $1,300, is selling exceptionally well.

Camcorder sharpshooters were no match for Sony’s SteadyShot model during a series of demonstrations that matched consumers against the device in a promotion that covered retailers in 55 cities and which involved hundreds of consumers.

The company’s CCD FX630 camcorder

Which was introduced last spring, automatically compensates for arm movements by the user. Sony got the bright idea of letting people see if they could hold a camcorder with less jiggling than the SteadyShot. Jay Sato, vice presdentof personal video for Sony Corp. of America, said that no one could.

“The objective of the nationwide promotion,” he said “was to create interest in camcorders in general and ourcamcorders in particular.

While our camcorder sales continue at their traditional double-digit increases, the industry’s growth is only single digit. By helping to stimulate interest in camcorders we hope that we can reinvigorate the business for the entire industry.

These products are competimg for consumer dollars with many new and interesting electronics products as well as the many other pressures on consumer budgets nowadays.”

The promotion was part of a longer-term strategy that began with the introduction of the CCD FX630 last spring at a significantly lower price than the first SteadyShot model which retails at about $1,300.

Another thing that is helping Sony continue with its double digit camcorder increases was the introduction early this fall of the CCD-FX 730V, a camera that not only features a 3-inch LCD view finder but a second monochrome viewfinder. This unit has a suggested retail price of $1,099.

“Sales ahve been phenomenal since the unit was brought out last September,” said Sato.

While the new products have added materially to Sony’s clout in the marketplace, they have been supported hy strong national promotions like the SteadyShot demonstration program. The company’s sell-through efforts have also included a series of television spots called, “The world’s in your hands.” These show a skydiver holding a Sony camcorder. In addition to a Sony promotional tagline, the spots make available time for a message from the retailer. This sell-through effort began in October and will cover 35 cities when commpleted.

Sato commented to HFD that the company, through such promotional efforts and through the introduction of new products, has not only been able to sustain its double-digit growth but has maintained what Sato claims is the company’s dominant share of the industry’s camcorder sales. Sony has double the share of its next nearest competitor, despite the fact that the latter company is represented in all three formats while Sony only has 8mm.

“While some of our competitors [dispute] our market share figures, the data comes from independent market research firms and we stand by them,” said the Sony executive. The 8mm format has 50 percent of the market while full size accounts for 19 percent and the C format has a 31 percent share.

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