Sony Corp. of America has introduced a series of what it called high-quality audio products designed especially for children.
Called My First Sony, the new line consists of a walkie-talkie headset, cassette recorder with microphone, radio cassette-corder, Walkman personal stereo and blank My First Sony audio cassettes. Availability is October.
According to Sony, the line– targeted toward large electronics stores, department stores and toy outlets–represents a clear departure from standard versions of adult products.
“These are not toys, but a full-fledged line of portable electronics for the younger generation,’ said Thomas Harvey, who in August replaced John Briesch as president of the Sony consumer audio products division. Briesch has become president of Sony consumer sales, as reported in HFD.
All products in the line, introduced at a press conference here this past week, feature Sony quality sound with big, child-sized buttons and helpful words and symbols, according to Harvey. The products were said to be the first of their type introduced by a major consumer electronics company.
The walkie-talkie headset, at a suggested $49.95, is a voice-activated system with built-in microphone for transmissions to 1,000 feet. Each unit has an antenna and weighs 8.8 ounces.
The cassette recorder, at $44.95 suggested retail, has a microphone which allows children to sing along. Songs are amplified through a speaker.
At $59.95, the top-of-the-line radio cassette-corder is both an AM/FM radio and a cassette player/recorder that features a built-in microphone and one-button recording, it was said. The Walkman personal stereo, at $34.94 suggested retail, comes with volume limitation feature, automatic shutoff switch, see-through back panel and color-coordinated headphones.
Blank tape, at $3.99 suggested retail, features colored spools in more than 4,000 color combinations, virtually making no two cassettes alike, said Sony.
Each product in the My First Sony line comes in colorful combinations of red, blue and yellow, with protective rubber accents. All products were said to be lightweight and durable with a sturdy outer shell to protect against children’s rough use and possible scratching of furniture.
My First Sony, according to Harvey, is indicative of a changing consumer environment, as evidenced by an influx of upscale products and apparel geared for kids. Harvey–who said the company has observed this trend in cosmetics, jewelry, clothing and toys–felt “it’s clear that both parents and children have become more sophisticated than ever before in their buying habits. My First Sony will follow this trend, but will also carve a new market niche in home electronics for children.’
Harvey, who is responsible for marketing Sony’s consumer audio –including hi-fi products, car stereo, general audio and telephones –had been regional vice president in the company’s northwest region of its consumer sales division. He joined Sony in 1979 as a consumer-products salesman, and has since held such positions as regional sales manager, national marketing manager and national sales manager for Sony consumer products.
To support the new line, Sony will introduce this fall a print and broadcast advertising campaign aimed at parents and working mothers. The campaign will mark the first time Sony has extensively used children in its advertising. Its sell-line is “After years of giving people smller electronics, Sony now makes electronics for smaller people.’
Sony also has signed an agreement with Columbia House–a subsidiary of Columbia Records, a division of CBS Records–for a buy-one-get-one-free promotion.
Photo: Sony’s My First Sony line offers, from left, a walkie-talkie headset, cassette recorder with microphone, radio cassette-corder and Walkman personal stereo. Suggested retails range from $35 to $60. Blank tape also is available.