January 2, 2008, 12:00 AM

Panasonic.com tops electronics site in brand presentation, says Forrester

Panasonic tops five consumer electronics brand sites in communicating brand image – but none of the five passed Forrester’s brand action test on supporting consumer goals.

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Panasonic‘s web site beat the sites of four other top consumer electronics brands in brand image presentation in a recent Forrester Research report, scoring six out of a possible 12 points, the highest score given. But none of the sites received a passing score on delivering an online experience that lets consumers meet their goals in Forrester’s “Best and worst of brand building web sites.”

Forrester’s assessment of how well the sites communicate value in brand image looked at the sites’ use of content, functionality, language, imagery, typography and layout. The sites received one of four possible scores, ranging from -2 to +2, on each of the six areas, meaning that across the six areas of assessment the best possible score was +12.

Panasonic.com received top scores of +2 on content and function, +1 in language, imagery and layout, and -1 in typography. Forrester’s report praises the site for prominent product pricing and for advanced features, such as the one that lets shoppers drag and drop a plasma TV image into a photo of their own room after uploading the photo to the site.

Trailing Panasonic on brand imagery in Forrester’s assessment scores was LG with a total score of +5. “Content and imagery can’t make up for poor function,” notes the report, which points out, for example, that the site provides no contextual help for hard-to understand features. The sites of Philips, Samsung and Sony each scored +4 points in brand image.

The sites all scored significantly lower in brand action; that is, how well they deliver value to their target audience by supporting consumer goals. Under the same system of four possible scores on each individual criterion, Forrester rated brand action on each site on eight different criteria, ranging from whether essential content was available when needed to actual site performance, that is, page loading and availability. That meant scores could range from a high of +18 to a low of -18 points.

LG scored the highest across the brand action criteria, rating +3 points. Given high ratings on the placement of content and key functions on the site, LG scored in the negative range for its use of jargon, difficult-to-read text and the fact that and some interactive elements aren’t easily recognized. Across all the criteria for brand action, Panasonic scored 0 points, meaning that positive ratings were equally balanced by those in the negative range. Samsung trailed with a score of -1 on brand action, followed by Philips at -3 and Sony at -5.

“Consumer electronic sites fared markedly better at supporting brand image than brand action,” according to the report’s author, Forrester analyst Ron Rogowski. “This is especially problematic in an industry that sells complex, big-ticket items like plasma TVs.”

Panasonic.com is No. 216 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites.

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