May 17, 2011

Solutions for a Better Future / Feature Story

Products & Solutions

Keeping Clothes Clean in Large Cambodian Family Household

Hey everybody! I'm Akiko in charming Siem Reap, one of Cambodia's fastest growing cities and also home to the gateway to Angkor Wat, a favorite travel destination for people from around the world. Since I began living here I've befriended the Seders, a large family who just happen to own a Panasonic washing machine. Believe me, this thing works overtime to keep their clothes spotless clean! They recently invited me over to show how it has helped their family, so let me share with you the story!

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.

A Family of Eleven, From Zero to Eighty Years Old

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    Siem Reap: A Bustling City with Potential for Growth

The Seder's suburban house is a short ten-minute drive from the city center and home to eleven family members, including Mrs. Seder, her daughter and her family, her son and his family and their 80-year old father-in-law and two relatives from the countryside. Although large to many other countries, this type of extended family is common in Cambodia. It's not unusual for parents, children and grandchildren to share their city home with young relatives from rural areas, who may be attending high school or university in the city.

Multiple Daily Loads Proves a Real Test

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    Laundry Drying in the Sun

It doesn't take long to realize how great the Seder's Panasonic washer is doing. Although main roads are paved in Cambodia, side streets and alleys are likely to be dirt paths that become muddy during the rainy season and dusty when it's dry. This makes it easy for clothes and shoes to become soiled, so doing laundry daily is an imperative.

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    The Seders' Three-year Old Panasonic Washing Machine

This is where Panasonic enters the picture. Since Panasonic's washer has a 6.0 kg capacity -- relatively small for a family of eleven -- the Seders run multiple loads every day; enough to put a strain on any washing machine. But are they worried? Hardly. "It's OK!" all family members chide. "This thing is tough as nails and will have a long life." Wow! Talk about confidence in a product.

Panasonic, the Dependable Choice

When I asked Mrs. Seder to explain why she liked her Panasonic washing machine so much, she was unequivocal: "We bought it a little over three years ago and it has never broke. It just keeps running and running. And well, too!" Her daughter Terry, an elementary school teacher, gave another opinion. "The kids love to play and get dirty every day. I mean seriously dirty!" She laughed. "Knowing we have a washing machine that really gets the grime out is a huge help."

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    Mrs Tyeb Seder
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    Mrs. Seder's Grandchildren Love to Play
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    Seder Family Members in Front of their Home

In Cambodia, it seems like things are always breaking. The first thing that really surprised me after moving here was how easily it happened. A TV remote control, light switch, electric kettle and some other appliances all broke within six months of purchase. So when the Seder's told me about their experience with Panasonic, I was frankly surprised! And I can understand their delight. They used to do their laundry by hand until one day, Mrs. Seder's son Seiha, a tour guide, suggested purchasing a washing machine. That's how this durable, high performance Panasonic washer became a fixture of the family.

Electricity only became available at the Seders in 2005. In Siem Reap, people used to use candles at night. After improvement of the electrical grid, home appliances rapidly became the norm, with televisions and electrical fans being the most popular. Not many families had washing machines and even today many homes still do laundry in a washtub by hand. For many Cambodians, owning a washing machine is still just a dream, but in the near future I think this will change.

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    Terry, Daughter of the Seder Family
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    Seiha and his young baby, Son of the Seder Family

Outclassing the Competition

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In Siem Reap, on the road to Angkor Wat, more and more families are entering into the middle class thanks to the flourishing tourist industry. Infrastructure is being improved and the city is increasingly taking on an urban feel, a phenomena that has been especially noticeable in recent years. Resorts, a shopping center and fast food restaurants are rapidly replacing the rural way of life.

Back in the city I visited an electric appliance store. There, neatly lined up in the middle of the floor, was an ample selection of Panasonic washing machines. I asked a clerk what the current top selling items were. "Well, lots of people buy refrigerators and air conditioners. It's because of the heat you know," he explained. "But we're also starting to see an upswing in washing machine sales, especially the 7.0 kg type. And Panasonic is really doing well."

It seems not just the Seder's have discovered Panasonic.

My first visit to Cambodia was in 2002. Back then there were no streetlights, even on main streets. It was pitch dark at night. In the eight years since, Siem Reap along with the rest of the country have drastically changed. The Seders are now sitting solidly middle class, joined by many other Cambodians as the economic fortunes of the country improves.

My interviews revealed that the Panasonic brand name is well known throughout the country. When Cambodians hear the word "Panasonic" they immediately equate it with durability, quality and trust.
(Reported by Akiko)

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