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National brand name introduced
With the signing of a three-year exclusive sales agreement with Yamamoto Trading Company, Matsushita's bullet-shaped bicycle lamps were marketed under the name "Excel." Takenobu Yamamoto, president of the trading company, saw the product as a fad, while Konosuke Matsushita felt it had an enduring market. Their ideas on how to promote the lamp differed, and a clash of personalities ensued, with Yamamoto rejecting any attempt by Matsushita to guide marketing strategies.
Meanwhile, Matsushita had become involved in the development of another product, a square-shaped battery lamp, that he wished to market himself. Yamamoto argued that the marketing agreement extended to this product as well, and demanded compensation of ¥10,000 to surrender the marketing rights. Matsushita acceded to his claim, and paid for the right to market his own product. Despite their disagreements, Matsushita greatly respected Yamamoto for his fairness and honesty, his determination and his marketing skills.
Matsushita had been thinking of a brand name under which to sell the new lamp. One day he came across the English word "international" in a newspaper. Checking a dictionary, he found that it was based on the word "national" with the meaning "of or relating to a people, a nation." To him, this meaning was perfectly suited to the product, which he saw as becoming indispensable to every household in the country, so he adopted the brand name "National."
In April 1927, Matsushita began marketing the lamps in a daring promotional campaign, delivering 10,000 samples to stores without obligation. The lamps were a tremendous success, selling more than 30,000 units per month within their first year on the market.
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