Sony Revamps Retail Stores

Originally published June 15, 2011

By Ian Sherr

Aiming to take a bite out of Apple Inc., Sony Corp. is revamping its retail stores, integrating the Japanese electronics behemoth’s sprawling product line into a sleek and fresh new look.

On April 1, Sony opened a self-branded store, in the high-end Westfield Century City Mall in Los Angeles. The store, with hardwood floors and sleek lighting fixtures, echoes Apple’s airy retail concept.

Sony’s Los Angeles store is the first in a series that is expected to replace the company’s existing chain of retail shops, called Sony Style. The Tokyo-based company hopes the renewed retail presence will reinvigorate enthusiasm for products, like its Vaio laptops and Walkman music players, both of which have been lapped by Apple’s competing devices.

Sony wants the retail effort to set its computers and televisions apart in the minds of buyers. That was one of the strategies behind Apple’s chain of stores, which helped solidify consumer identification of its products.

“It’s not an electronics store,” said Phil Molyneux, president of Sony Electronics in the U.S. “It’s a Sony Store.”

Sony’s new retail outlets mark a complete rethinking of its existing strategy. The roughly 30 existing Sony Style stores in the U.S. are cluttered. Many have dark lighting, resulting in a heavy mood. The new store designs take a different tack.

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(Published June 15, 2011, in The Wall Street Journal.)