Akio Morita, the co-founder of Sony, changed the face of Japan’s technology industry.
- Before Sony, Morita was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and served in World War II.
- Morita was vice chairman of the Japan Business Federation.
- He was also a member of the Japan-US Economic Relations Group, also known as the “Wise Men’s Group”.
Born in 1921 as the eldest son of a wealthy sake-brewing family, Morita broke with tradition by leaving his family business in his mid-20s to set up a tiny electrical engineering firm inside a bombed-out department store building in Tokyo.
The start-up, founded with his partner Masaru Ibuka in 1946, rapidly expanded to become one of the world’s most iconic consumer electronic brands.
Defying convention helped push Sony’s products into the international market, starting with the pocket-sized transistor radio in 1955, and ending with the Walkman in 1979, which heralded the age of mass-market, portable music.
Lessons for your store
1. Create a strong brand strategy
Morita kept Sony’s prices competitive during a period when Japanese goods were seen as poor-quality.
2. Use a strong sales pitch to create demand
Morita said the Walkman would not have been born from just asking consumers what they wanted.
3. Have a long-term business plan
Morita often criticised the US industry’s preoccupation with short-term profit.