|Type||Brand name of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.|
|Headquarters||Kadoma, Osaka, Japan|
|Key people||Konosuke Matsushita, Founder|
Fumio Ohtsubo, President
|Revenue||¥8,137 (in billions)
|Website||Panasonic Global Site
Panasonic (パナソニック, Panasonikku) is an international brand name for Japanese electric products manufactured by Panasonic Corporation (formerly Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.). Under this brand, Panasonic sells plasma and LCD display panels, DVD recorders and players, Blu-ray Disc players, camcorders, telephones, vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens, shavers, projectors, digital cameras, batteries, laptop computers, portable CDs, analog tape decks and home stereo equipment, electronic components, and semiconductors, all of which are marketed under their slogan, "Ideas for Life."
Konosuke Matsushita, almost penniless and with less than four years of education, founded Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., in 1917, to manufacture an electric plug that he had invented. Guided by his unique business philosophy and style of management, the company grew to become the largest Japanese producer of electronics, with annual sales of US$63 billion in 2007. Matsushita’s strategy of selling large quantities of quality products at affordable prices helped to fuel the Japanese economic revival during the second half of the twentieth century. Matsushita pioneered the Japanese tradition of "paternal management," in which company employees are viewed as part of a "family," and are assured of lifetime employment. By the 1930s, Matsushita had begun articulating a business philosophy that gave business a spiritual dimension and a greater purpose within society. He believed that businessmen should share in creating a society that is both spiritually rich and materially affluent. His concept of “peace through prosperity” promoted universal well-being through good management and ethical business practices. In 1980, Matsushita opened the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management (MIGM) to train a new generation of Japanese politicians by emphasizing vision, integrity, a global viewpoint, and rational policy analysis.
The brand Panasonic was created by Matsushita in 1955, for use in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, where the brand name National had already been registered by other companies. The name was created by combining "pan" meaning "all" with "sonic" meaning "sound," and was first used as a brand for audio equipment.
In January 2008, Matsushita announced it would change the company name to Panasonic Corporation, effective October 1, 2008. Non-audio/visual products (mostly home appliances) currently branded "National" in Japan will be marketed under the Panasonic brand.
Konosuke Matsushita (松下 幸之助 Matsushita Kōnosuke, November 27, 1894–April 27, 1989), the founder of Matsushita Electric, was born in 1894 in the farming village of Wasa in Wakayama Prefecture, the son of a landlord. Poor investment decisions by his father in rice speculation ruined the family's finances. His parents both died when he was very young, and at the age of nine he began working as an errand boy for a bicycle shop. In 1910, at the age of 16, Matsushita was taken on as a wiring assistant at the Osaka Electric Light Company. In 1918, at the age of 23, he left his job as an inspector for Osaka Electric Light Company and founded Matsushita Electric Appliance Factory to manufacture and market a new duplex light socket he had invented. His first three employees were himself, his wife Mumeno, and Mumeno's brother, Toshio Iue. The company almost went bankrupt until a large order came in for electric fan parts. Matsushita used the money to expand production and drop prices to make his lamp a mass-market product.
After realizing that there was no efficient lamp for the millions of bicycles in Japan, Matsushita designed one in 1923. Although not an immediate success, his “bullet lamp” eventually became the industry standard and many people even bought them to replace traditional kerosene lamps in their homes. In 1927, Matsushita began using the trademark "National" on his bicycle lamp. He advertised his products in national newspapers, a form of marketing unusual for Japan in the 1920s.
In 1931, Matsushita Electric began the production of radios. The first Matsushita radio, a three vacuum tube model, won first prize in the Tokyo Broadcasting Station radio contest. In 1932, Matsushita purchased several patents crucial for manufacturing radios and disclosed the information freely to other radio makers as a contribution to the development of the electronics industry in Japan. The company expanded its production to electric motors and electric fans.
In 1933, the company adopted a system of enterprise divisions and moved its production facilities to a newly-constructed a large-scale factory at Kadoma, Osaka. Matsushita Electric Industrial Company (Matsushita Denki Sangyō Kabushiki-gaisha, TYO: 6752, NYSE: MC) was restructured in 1935, and a branch company, Matsushita Electric Works, was established.
In 1941, Matsushita began manufacturing wooden boats and wooden airplanes for the military. Through the end of World War II, factories in Japan and Asia produced electrical components and appliances such as light fixtures, motors, and electric irons.
Matsushita and the post-war period
In 1946, Matsushita was designated a restricted company by the Allied Powers General Headquarters, because it had participated in the manufacture of products to support the war effort. Matsushita was in danger of removal as president, but was saved by a petition signed by 15,000 employees requesting that he be allowed to remain. Matsushita convinced General Douglas MacArthur and other Allied authorities that his company should be allowed to resume production of household electrical products and promised them that Japan would become a world leader in electronics. The Allies realized that such a strategy would help Japan’s recovery from the devastation of war, and permitted Matsushita's company to reopen.
In 1947, Konosuke lent his brother-in-law Toshio an unused manufacturing plant to manufacture bicycle lamps; this enterprise eventually became Sanyo Electric, and a competitor of Matsushita. By the 1950s, the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company was the chief manufacturer of washing machines, refrigerators, and television sets for Japanese homes. From 1950 to 1973, Matsushita's company became one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electrical goods, such as electrical equipment, computer chips, and videocassette recorders sold under well-known trademarks including Panasonic, Quasar, National, and Technics. In 1952, it marketed the first black and white television sets.
By 1959, Matsushita had established the Kyushu Matsushita Electric Company, the Osaka Precision Machinery Company (later renamed Matsushita Seiko), the Matsushita Communication Industrial group (which manufactured the first tape recorder), and Matsushita Electric Corporation of America. The company launched its first color television sets in 1960.
Konosuke Matsushita retired in 1973. In retirement, he focused on developing and explaining his social and commercial philosophies, and published 44 books. One of these, entitled Developing a Road to Peace and Happiness Through Prosperity, sold over four million copies. Matsushita died in Osaka on April 27, 1989, at the age of 94. At his death, his personal assets were worth US$3 billion, and Matsushita was bringing in annual revenues of US$42 billion.
- 1952: Matsushita Electric Industrial Company was established through a technical collaboration with the Netherlands' Philips Electronics. New factory construction and expansion followed.
- 1954: Matsushita Electric Industrial Company acquired a significant share in electronics manufacturer JVC (Victor Company of Japan) by forming an alliance. It still retains a 50 percent share today.
- 1957: Matsushita began the National Shop system, a sales distribution network solely for National products. It was a very effective sales network during Japan's high economic growth period.
- 1961: Konosuke Matsushita traveled to the United States and met with American dealers. Matsushita began producing television sets for the U.S. market under the Panasonic brand name, and expanded the use of the brand to Europe in 1979. The company used the National trademark outside of North America during the 1950s through the 1970s. It sold televisions, radios, and home appliances in some markets. The company began opening manufacturing plants around the world and quickly developed a reputation for well-made reliable products.
- 1965: Matsushita debuted a hi-fi speaker in Japan under the brand Technics. This line of high quality stereo components became worldwide favorites. The most famous product still made today is the SL-1200 record player, acknowledged for its high performance, precision, and durability.
- 1965: Began enforcing weekly two-day worker breaks. Adopted a new sales system that decreased the number of channels involved in the sales process.
- 1977: Began sales of VHS video.
- 1983: Launched the Panasonic JR-200 home computer.
- 1986: Began using Panasonic as a brand name in Japan.
- 1989: On August 1, began large-scale reform of technology departments.
- 1990: Consumer electronics products in Japan switched from the National to the Panasonic brand.
- 1993: Panasonic attempted to profit in the video game market with the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. However, stiff competition from Sony's PlayStation forced the system to be discontinued by the end of 1995.
- 1993: Canceled the joint venture agreement with Philips, and changed their contract to closed license.
- 1994: Established joint venture Panasonic Shun Hing Industrial Sales (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd and Panasonic SH Industrial Sales (Shenzen) Co., Ltd in China with Shun Hing Electric Works (Hong Kong). Shun Hing's Rasonic brand becomes a Panasonic subsidiary.
- 1997: A group consolidation policy was introduced, reducing the number of subsidiary companies.
- 1999: Announced plans to develop a "next generation first aid kit" called the Electronic Health Checker, targeted for elderly people, especially those living in rural areas where medical help might not be immediately available, and incorporating support for telemedicine.
- 2001: Panasonic released a DVD-capable Nintendo GameCube called the "Q" (Japan only).
- 2002: Technics products sold in the U.S. and Europe are renamed Panasonic.
- 2003: Introduced the global brand and slogan, “Panasonic. Ideas for life.”
- 2004: Matsushita began using Panasonic as its primary global brand.
- 2006: Announced a decision to stop producing analog televisions (then 30 percent of its total TV business) to concentrate on digital TVs.
- 2008 Matsushita announced its intention to change the company name to Panasonic Corporation, effective October 1, 2008.
- 2008: In early 2008, Panasonic partnered with Shopatron to handle its online order fulfillment, incorporating retailers into the online sale.
Based on 2004 annual sales of electronics, Panasonic is the largest Japanese electronics maker, and the world’s largest manufacturer of major home appliances. Panasonic and its related companies have developed a wide variety of enterprises in home electronics, industrial equipment, telecommunications equipment and non-electronic products and services such as home renovation services. Panasonic has frequently entered into arrangements to manufacture audio-visual and electronic products for brand names such as GE, RCA, Sylvania, Magnavox, and Montgomery Ward. Other brand names associated with Panasonic include Quasar and its Viera televisions and Lumix digital cameras. Its notebook computer line (Toughbook) has recently gained in popularity.
In 2007, Matsushita (Panasonic) was ranked the 59th company in the world by the Forbes Global 500 and is among the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders.
Panasonic's current corporate strategy is to seek cooperation and joint ventures in the development of technologies such as LCDs), while continuing to compete against other companies such as Toshiba, Hitachi, and Minebea to become the benchmark for Japanese electronics. The company is involved with the development of high-density optical disc standards intended to replace the DVD and the SD memory card.
Panasonic sells radio (audio) products for automobiles and light trucks in the US market under the Panasonic brand (aftermarket) and as OEM equipment in Japanese automobile brands such as Toyota, Honda and Subaru. Non-Japanese automakers such as Audi have also used OEM stereos made by Panasonic.
Panasonic Corporation of North America is the name for the American branch of Panasonic.
The Shop@Panasonic chain of stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland sells only Panasonic electronics. The stores, based on the same structure as Sony Centre are branded as the "official Panasonic retailer," are usually located in large shopping centers such as Centrale in London.
Rivalry with Sony
Sony and Panasonic are often viewed as rivals, probably because they competed to dominate the market in the late 1970s and the 1980s with two incompatible videotape formats: VHS (supported by Panasonic) and Betamax (supported by Sony). Currently Sony and Panasonic are considered rivals in sales of audio products, flat panel TVs, digital cameras, and DVD recorders. Sony has recently diversified into cinema, video games, and finance. Panasonic's large home appliances have no competition from Sony. After Sony's acquisitions of CBS Records and Columbia Pictures, Panasonic purchased MCA (including MCA Music and Universal Pictures) in 1991 but sold out in 1995.
Matsushita management style
Although relatively unknown outside his own country, in Japan Konosuke Matsushita, founder of Panasonic, is regarded as one of the most inspirational role models of all time. With only four years of education, no real business experience, and only 100 yen in his pocket, he founded a company that became the largest electronics producer in Japan, with US$63 billion in annual sales in 2007. His business philosophy helped lead Japan’s miraculous economic growth after World War II. Matsushita, sometimes referred to in Japan as "the god of management," pioneered the Japanese tradition of "paternal management" in which company employees are viewed as part of a "family," and are assured of lifetime employment. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, when sales of consumer electronics dropped dramatically, Matsushita refused to lay off employees as other companies were doing. He cut the production schedule in half, while continuing to pay his employees full wages, moved factory workers to sales positions, and enlisted their help to sell the backlog of merchandise in the company warehouses. In 1965, Matsushita initiated a 5-day work week for his employees, a rarity in Japan at that time.
Matsushita also pioneered innovative ways of marketing his products, including the use of newspaper ads in the 1920s, and the establishment of a chain of “National” brand shops to exclusively sell Matsushita products. From his very first electrical plug, he learned that people would buy a product when they saw that it was better in quality and lower in price than comparable products. By selling them at a lower profit margin, he could eventually sell a much larger quantity of his products. His rule was that a new product had to be 30 percent better and 30 percent less expensive, than one already on the market. By 1922, his company was introducing new items every month. Matsushita also discovered the importance of after-sales service in building a loyal customer base, and taught his employees to put the customer’s needs at the forefront.
In 1933, Matsushita was the first Japanese company to structure itself into “enterprise divisions,” each individually responsible for the production and marketing of a particular type of product. This structure allowed the company to respond quickly to changes in the market, and to keep up with new technologies. It also allowed each “division” to develop unique marketing strategies.
Matsushita promulgated the concept of "peace through prosperity," the idea that wealth generated by successful businesses could transform governments and increase the well-being of society as a whole. A stone plaque outside the headquarters of the Matsushita company says, "Recognizing our responsibilities as industrialists, we will devote ourselves to the progress and development of society and the well-being of people through our business activities, thereby enhancing the quality of life throughout the world."
Matsushita also believed that business should have a spiritual dimension and a greater purpose within society.
Possessing material comforts in no way guarantees happiness. Only spiritual wealth can bring true happiness. If that is correct, should business be concerned only with the material aspect of life and leave the care of the human spirit to religion or ethics? I do not think so. Businessmen too should be able to share in creating a society that is spiritually rich and materially affluent (Konsuke Matsushita).
Having witnessed the horrors of World War II, Matsushita was concerned that the Japanese political system was perpetuating narrow-minded and even dangerous traditions. In 1980, Matsushita opened the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management (MIGM) in Chigasaki City. Matsushita’s plan was to train a new generation of Japanese politicians by emphasizing vision, integrity, a global viewpoint, and rational policy analysis, in the hope that they could then transform the political culture of Japan. In the July 1993 elections in Japan, 15 of the school’s 130 graduates were elected to the national legislature, unseating incumbents from the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), which had been in power since shortly after World War II.
Several biographies have been written about Konosuke Matsushita’s life and business strategy, including Matsushita Leadership by John Kotter (1998) and Hitachi to Matsushita by Yasuo Okamoto.
Panasonic Avionics Corporation
Panasonic Avionics Corporation (PAC) is the world's leading supplier of in-flight entertainment (IFE) and communication systems. Engineering, development and testing are carried out at company headquarters in Lake Forest, California, while system installation, field engineering, major quality functions, certification and program management are performed at its Bothell, Washington facility. Panasonic Avionics Corporation employs approximately 2,800 employees based in over 70 locations worldwide, with major facilities in London, Toulouse, Hamburg, Dallas, Dubai, and Singapore. A majority of the components are manufactured in Osaka, Japan.
The company provides airline passengers with a wide array of interactive applications at their seats, combining entertainment (digital music and movies on demand, games, interactive moving maps, satellite TV, and online shopping) with business tools (E-mail, live flight schedules, and in-flight internet access). PAC is also one of the chief suppliers to both Boeing and Airbus and their IFE systems will be featured on both the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 aircraft. Among the many worldwide customers that use PAC systems are award-winning airlines such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.
Panasonic Avionics Corporation is a subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation of North America (PNA).
Panasonic is a primary sponsor of Toyota's Formula 1 program (Toyota F1), also known as Panasonic Toyota Racing. Hiro Matsushita, grandson of the company founder, is a former race car driver who stays actively involved in racing.
Panasonic is an official partner and sponsor of Major League Soccer, and owns Gamba Osaka, a team from the J.League, the main Japanese soccer league.
Panasonic sponsored Sterling Marlin in the Nextel Cup Series. Panasonic was to sponsor the 14 in 24 races but the team shut down in July.
Panasonic was the primary sponsor of the 2007 World Solar Challenge, the World Solar Challenge is a solar-powered car race which covers 3,021 km (1,877 miles) through the Australian Outback, from Darwin to Adelaide.
Panasonic has been a "top" sponsor of the Olympic Games since Seoul in 1988, and was the Official Worldwide Olympic Partner for the Beijing 2008 Games.
Panasonic was the official partner and sponsor of the Boston Celtics from 1975 to 1989, along with Technics. Various Panasonic ads appeared at the old Boston Garden during the 1980s.
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All links retrieved January 11, 2019.
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