How much does Hitachi Australia (HA) love the channel? According to HA managing director Jiro Katsura, it is investing "several million dollars" into a program called "Aim High" designed to tell its channel and customers that it's after their business.
In an extraordinarily aggressive plan for the conservative Japanese vendor, it wants to shake off the residual clouds that have hung over it, and affirm its love affair with the Australian IT channel. Hitachi announced a "mainstream distribution arrangement with Digiland" in August, and it is looking to consolidate, and possibly add to, its channel roots.
Katsura said the marketing campaign is intended to address the identified lack of recognition of Hitachi's brand as a manufacturer of advanced technology, particularly IT. And the Australian subsidiary has the full backing of its head office, so the world spotlight is fully on HA and its local advertising and marketing machinery. It puts Australia at number three in the world for Hitachi's marketing spend (behind Japan and the US).
The program combines a substantial print media campaign (which started last month) with the Club Hitachi scheme, which includes a loyalty reward points system, training and product materials and the development of the HA Web site to include access by registered channel club members.
And Bernhard Kotarski, general manager, sales and marketing for HA, revealed that the Club Hitachi 2000 program will be unveiled at the Hitachi Technology Showcase event in February. Kotarski said that the program resulted from a survey of about 50 resellers, and claimed it will incorporate the best features of a channel loyalty model.
Resellers registered in the club can achieve silver, gold and platinum status, with proportionate rebates, product and information access priority for their support and commitment, he added.
The Aim High program is inten-ded to see HA's revenues double in the next year, an objective that will be largely achieved by the IT, multimedia and consumer electronics divisions. It is anticipating continued growth in the CRT monitor and DVD markets and huge growth in the exploding flat screen monitor market.
The advertising campaign is planned to run through all of next year, but, as Katsura said: "What converts it to sales is the salespeople . . . and if we're able to give them the tools, we'll all be smiling."