Announcement of Five-year Plan
Management policy meeting,1956.
Matsushita makes an invisible contract with the masses
The Japanese economy recovered quickly throughout the 1950s despite continued fluctuations. As the standard of living improved, consumer demand for electrical conveniences grew steeply.
Matsushita sensed that the economy was about to enter a period of vigorous expansion. In his management policy address in 1956, he announced a five-year plan. He said that annual sales of ¥22 billion should rise to ¥80 billion, the number of employees from 11,000 to 18,000 and the company's capitalization from ¥3 billion to ¥10 billion.
The audience was astonished. No private enterprise had ever announced such long-term plans. The industry was surprised as well. Matsushita insisted that the plan would be feasible, despite economic fluctuations, or even a minor recession. These numbers actually represent the desires of the masses. Therefore, to achieve this goal, we need to make sure that we are not working for fame or profit. We are making an invisible contract with the masses. As long as we don't slack off in our endeavor, I think we shall certainly achieve this goal."
The plan was achieved in just over four years.
Konosuke Matsushita announcing five-year plan.
Beginning of the home appliance era
Home appliance boom.
Development of products that anticipate consumer needs
Development of Products that Anticipate Consumer Needs Although 1953 was called the "Year of Electrification," it was in 1955 that the industry saw explosive growth of the electrical appliance market, spurred by a favorable economic climate.
New appliances were appearing that would have been unimaginable before the war, making homes more pleasant and efficient. All consumers wanted a television, washing machine and refrigerator, or the "three holy grails" as they were popularly known.
Panasonic had foreseen the dawn of the electrification age. From radios and fluorescent lights it branched out into washing machines, beginning production in 1951. At first prices were high, and few machines were produced, but growing production volumes gradually brought down the price, leading to greater sales. By 1955, the company was producing more than 5,000 units per month.
The company had TV sets on the market by 1952, well in advance of NHK's regular telecasts, which began In 1953. A powerful information medium, television had a large impact on people's life-styles and the national culture.
Sale of refrigerators began in 1953 in a jointly funded venture under the management of the Nakagawa Electric Company, which was later renamed the Matsushita Refrigeration Company.
Panasonic's First washing machine,1951
Panasonic's First refrigerator ,1953
Panasonic's First B/W television set, 1952
The first high-priced model was well-received by wealthier households that could afford it, but clearly it was not a mass-market product. Prices dropped and the market grew after construction of a new production facility. Matsushita Refrigeration Company had produced 230,000 refrigerators by November 1960.
New factories built
Washing machine factory.
Introduction of a wide range of advanced products
In 1956, the company subdivided its operations from 11 divisions to 15, built a succession of automated factories and put many new products into mass production.
MEC's new Takatsuki Plant was visited by the Japanese Emperor and Empress in November of 1956, and won the Demming Prize, Japan's highest award for quality control, in 1958.
Mass production of television sets began at the Kadoma plant, and later shifted to a new plant in Ibaraki near Osaka in July 1958. Production jumped from 10,000 sets per month in 1957, to 30,000 sets by the end of 1958.
The Radio Division grew rapidly with the introduction of the transistor radio. The Component Division was separated from the Radio Division in May 1959, and the scope of its operations broadened.
In January 1959, Matsushita announced that he would make every factory into a world-class facility. New plants were rapidly constructed for producing radios, components, dry cells, storage batteries, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, electric motors, and industrial and communications equipment.
Each venture was financed separately under the principle of autonomous divisions. This checked excessive expansion, greatly boosted the company's business by focusing innovation and creativity in restricted product fields, and ensured that the new facilities were used to their best advantage.
Konosuke Matsushita guiding Emperor & Empress Showa to MEC factory.
Innovative Product: Automatic rice cooker
The company's first electric, automatic rice cooker, the EC-36, employing a sheathed heater and a thermostat was put on the market in 1956.
The EC-36 used a direct heating system, in which the inner pot was in direct contact with a heating plate. A heavy lid was used to prevent steam from escaping, and improved heat retention conditions were provided. With these unique design features, together with the very efficient sheathed heater and the thermostat, the automatic rice cooker took the initiative in the field.
This electric automatic rice cooker streamlined housework, causing a sudden increase in demand for automatic rice cookers, unlike that for any other home appliances, which led to what is called the rice cooker boom of 1957.