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Around the World with Panasonic
Vol.13

Contemporary Chinese Families Choose Panasonic

Feb 07, 2013

China has undergone dramatic economic growth since the early 1990s, when life had a more communal feel characterized by neighbors sharing meals, baths, toilets and even washing machines. Having one's own household appliances back then was a dream for most families. Fast forward 20 years and changes to family lifestyles are nothing short of remarkable, with individual home appliances having become commonplace.

 

Hi! I'm Tokiko in Beijing reporting on China's experience with Panasonic. I recently visited the Nakamoto family and their housekeeper, Mr Tuo, who I asked about the washing machines and refrigerators that are now essentials in Chinese homes.


Panasonic makes its products and technologies available to a diverse range of consumers around the world. These articles show some of the ways the company is changing lives in different cultures from the views of local reporters.

Slim washing machine fits compact Beijing apartments

Beijing teems with luxury apartments and tales of opulent lifestyles, but in fact most people live with numerous family members in rather modest surroundings. It is not altogether uncommon for two families to share a smallish apartment. Moreover, modular bathrooms are the norm so washing machines are typically relegated to the balcony. Mr Nakamoto's apartment is no exception.

The Nakamoto family moved to a new flat last year and replaced all their old appliances. One of their main concerns was finding a compact, powerful washing machine since the door to their balcony was less than 60 cm wide. And having a young child made a small-capacity model not an option. When they found a Panasonic with a capacity of 6.5 kg and barely 50 cm wide, they were overjoyed. After a year the unit has turned out to be a wise choice, handling all laundry chores -- including sheets and towels -- usually with only one load a day.

  • 02_AroundtheWorld_10.jpg
    A compact washing machine just over 50 cm wide that can even handle curtains!
  • 03_AroundtheWorld_10.jpg
    The area above the washing machine is used for drying to maximize use of the small space.
  • Mr Tuo is finicky about laundry, separating whites from coloreds and washing each every other day.

A refrigerator that locks in freshness

  • 04_AroundtheWorld_10.jpg

The Nakamoto family purchased their refrigerator and washing machine at the same time. Based on Mr Tuo's suggestion, they chose Panasonic. "For a family with a child, Panasonic seemed the best choice," he explained. Unlike their previous model, which had a fridge that froze food and a freezer prone to frosting up -- sometimes creating ice a few centimeters thick, making it difficult to remove items -- temperatures in each compartment of their Panasonic are stable. Moreover, the unit has remained frost-free since its purchase. Keeping food fresh now is never an issue.

Mr Tuo did his homework before buying the refrigerator since he wanted to ensure fresh, healthy food for the family's growing daughter. And nowadays, with people in Beijing busier than ever, frozen food and pre-cooked meals have seen a marked rise in popularity, making freezers more a necessity than a convenience. Mr Tuo agrees: "The large freezer is certainly a big help and greatly appreciated."

  • 02_AroundtheWorld_10.jpg
    Most Chinese households keep a store of frozen food on hand, such as boiled dumplings and steamed stuffed buns.
  • 03_AroundtheWorld_10.jpg
    Mr Tuo's zhajiangmian (ground pork over wheat noodles) is so refreshing and healthy, and tastes as if from a gourmet cook!
  • Mr Tuo has been cooking since he was a teenager and can prepare just about any Chinese dish.

Consideration that defines Panasonic products

  • 04_AroundtheWorld_10.jpg
    Since electronic appliances are ubiquitous in everyday life, it is important to choose the proper ones.

"When using Panasonic appliances, I always feel the consideration that went into their manufacture," Mr Tuo mused with a sense of satisfaction. Among the benefits he noted are that the washing machine doesn't cause detergent to clump and the refrigerator lamp blinks when the door is left open too long.

From past experience with the company's products, the Nakamoto family now always chooses Panasonic for their appliances. Mr Tuo's favorite is the living room light. After switching it on for the first time, he was surprised at the brightness compared to the old one, and its warm glow made his delicious dishes look even more tempting. Moreover, it is much more energy efficient.

Just owning an appliance is not enough anymore

  • 04_AroundtheWorld_10.jpg
    Huge apartments spring continually, transforming the Beijing skyline. The city's population doubled in just 20 years and is expected to swell even further.

In 2010 China's GDP surpassed that of Japan, with the country becoming the world's second largest economy after the United States. Chinese now seek brand-name goods while young people can often be seen behind the wheels of luxury cars. Throughout the country inflation is on the rise and has become a national issue as costs for food, transportation, medical care and education skyrocket. Gas, electricity and water bills are also becoming more expensive.

No one who has ever attended a party in China has ever accused the hosts of being tightfisted. However, as lifestyles change, so do views on economic issues. And as awareness of the country's role in the global community takes root, environmentalism has also become a hot topic with more families aiming to pursue eco-friendly lifestyles.

In such a social climate, mere ownership of household appliances has become an outmoded concept. Now Chinese are more particular than ever about their purchases, seeking to match products to lifestyles. Because of this, families like the Nakamotos are almost certain to favor Panasonic as their appliance maker of choice.

(Reported by Tokiko)

 

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