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How Panasonic's Building Materials Division Approaches Innovation

For building product manufacturers, being innovative in your business is the only way to stay relevant and ahead of your competition. But “innovative” can be a little vague, right? We were excited to break that down on the podcast, so manufacturers can approach innovation in the construction industry with confidence.

Photo of Zach Williams
Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov

More About This Episode

The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

In this episode, Zach and Beth talk with Peter Jacobson, a Business Designer at Panasonic, about how to stay competitive in building materials and making sure your products are both innovative and successful.

A Focus on the Future

Peter Jacobson’s title of Business Designer at Panasonic is impressive. And after talking with him about the role that he plays at the company, we concluded that it fits perfectly.

“Yeah, it's kind of a fancy, vague title, but really what it comes down to is leading our strategic thinking on how to drive innovation within some parts of Panasonic,” explains Peter. His work is “specifically related to strategies on developing new product services in the energy, sustainability, mobility and built environment markets.”

Panasonic has developed and delivered products across a wide variety of industries, from the consumer lifestyle to the automotive industry. They also work with clients and business partners to develop technologies and products that meet today’s consumer demands.

“And we do that through strategic advisory services, working with utilities, real estate developers and municipalities, for instance, and helping them solve some of their most difficult problems,” explains Peter.

Panasonic offers products and services for the construction industry to help meet the growing demand for healthier — but also more affordable — buildings and homes. “And then finally, there's the sustainability side,” Peter explains, “which kind of goes hand in hand with affordability. How can we help our customers meet their growing demands for a more eco-friendly, more sustainable energy product in the built environment?”

122 A Focus on the Future


“Millennials are a notoriously conscious bunch. Health-conscious, eco-conscious, socially conscious,” according to Panasonic. “The millennial generation is expected to outnumber Boomers by next year. Shrewd builders, architects and other home professionals are already shifting their business strategy to serve the needs of this huge contingent of future homeowners.”

Panasonic offers a few products and solutions for the building materials industry to serve these growing markets. “So on the digitalization side, Panasonic has a lot of cool products,” says Peter. “HVAC systems, variable refrigerant flow systems, security cameras and more.”

But Panasonic wants to make those solutions more integrated for building professionals, including a “cloud platform that integrates all of these pieces of hardware in different systems to make it more efficient, more cost-effective and that's just generally a better user experience for both the tenants and the building operators,” says Peter.

How To Predict Product Success

There are a lot of problems that technology could solve in the building materials industry: Manufacturers, architects, builders — all of us are wondering about solutions.

Homeowners are also asking for products and technology that will close the gap, especially when it comes to a healthier and more sustainable living environment. But a reactionary solution can’t be a quick fix; that often causes more headaches. So how should product manufacturers respond to these growing demands?

For Panasonic, it’s understanding the indicators. “I think at a high level, it's keeping a tab on the market, and what helps us do that is through these advisory services,” explains Peter.

As a large corporation, Panasonic has to do some leg work (and research) to deliver the right solutions in a strategic way. “And we're working directly with our end customers and hearing what they have to say and what their pain points are,” explains Peter. “And when we hear that enough times, it's an indicator that yeah, the general market, the larger market is going to probably be very interested in this solution.”

Peter explains that the solutions come with quite a bit of strategy and development built into the process: “It's a combination of understanding what the market wants and needs and aligning that with Panasonic's strengths.”

Developing a product that’s truly innovative (and new) takes time and some investment, and requires using research tools and working with the right product partners to get feedback. “And so it's inherent that the earlier start, the more risk and unknowns you're going to have, and you just have to be deliberate about identifying what those unknowns and risks are and trying to answer them, you know, whether it's through a pilot or through market testing or whatever it is.”

For Panasonic, innovation often means improving on what they already offer. “Panasonic has seen how digitization has really disrupted all parts of the economy. And so it's very interested in expanding its digital offerings or IOC or software offerings. And so you'll see a lot of software offerings in the mobility space, in the energy space generally to help strengthen what we have already,” says Peter.

How To Sell New Products

Having a great new product is the first step for manufacturers, but marketing and positioning that product requires real strategy. “And for me, it really starts at understanding the market, understanding what the actual end-users want and need,” explains Peter.

He offers a few considerations for manufacturers who are innovating products in the building materials industry.

  • Nail down your value proposition before setting a price. “And then in response to your value prop, what is the actual value that we're creating and how much of that value can we capture? So I'm always thinking about capturing the value and that's generally in the form of monetization and setting a price, right?”
  • Ensure (and test) that your product or service actually helps your customer. “I feel lucky that I work at a company like Panasonic, who places such a high value on manufacturing or building the best possible product,” says Peter.
  • From there you’ll determine your messaging. “I hand it over to the smarter marketing people to figure out kind of how to best communicate what we have to offer and how it meets their needs,” says Peter.

Manufacturers today have a real opportunity to help meet the demands of homeowners and building owners looking for sustainable solutions for a healthy living environment. “Today’s homeowners are looking for greater convenience and a healthier environment. In fact, 70% now rate a home’s health as equal to or more important than aesthetics, longevity and cost,” according to Panasonic.

Want Even More Insight?

Panasonic’s company commitment to more sustainable communities and better indoor living spaces has helped to drive innovation across the industry in some big ways. “I think in the next five to 10 years, you may see a Panasonic who's trying to position itself kind of with a lot of the high-tech firms,” says Peter.

We’re excited to see what Panasonic will dive into next. Listen to the full episode of the podcast to learn more about the future of Panasonic and what’s in store when it comes to technology solutions in construction.

Want to learn more about how Panasonic is driving progress in the building materials industry? Take a look at their website for the trends and solutions they provide.

If you want ideas for innovating your products, need help with a marketing strategy or want to connect with Peter, reach out to us at [email protected].