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Confident sales approach overcomes cool reception
Konosuke Matsushita had such enthusiasm for developing new products that he kept a pencil and paper at his bedside to write down ideas that came to him while asleep. His company became famous for one such creation-a bullet-shaped bicycle lamp.
Candle lamps and oil lamps were commonly used for bicycles at the time. Although battery-powered lamps were also available, they were unreliable and their batteries ran down in two or three hours. Matsushita was frustrated with his own bicycle's candle lamp, which frequently went out when he rode at night, and came up with a design for a battery-powered lamp.
He made many test models over a six-month period, ultimately arriving at a bullet-shaped design that ran for 30 to 40 hours on three batteries. He put the lamp into production, and demonstrated samples for wholesalers.
However, battery-powered lamps had such a poor image at the time that he couldn't convince them to purchase his new model.
The situation was desperate, but Matsushita was certain that a good product would sell, so he left samples at stores with the agreement that they would purchase the lamp once it proved its worth. He was so confident in the product that he was willing to risk the future of his company on this gamble. Dealers found that the lamp worked as promised, and orders began to trickle in.
The Great Kanto Earthquake hit in September 1923. The two employees stationed in Tokyo returned to Osaka unharmed, but the company's sales network had been demolished. However, in early 1924, Matsushita established a new Tokyo branch office and set about rebuilding the company's sales network.
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