India is slowly emerging as the latest focus of attention for camera majors from across the world, chief among them being Sony, Nikon, Canon and Fuji. Especially with the coming summer vacations and the family holidays, the camera-makers believe the market demand will take a hike, and they want to be ready to pounce on that.
Lets see a factual snapshot of what’s happening in the market:
They have the most envy-provoking of all brand ambassadors, with Sachin Tendulkar endorsing the product. They have reportedly earmarked Rs 100 crore for promotion activities in the year, and are launching 29 image-based products, including 7 entry level cameras (sub Rs 10,000) and 6 compact cameras among others. They are also building on expanding their retail footprint (in-house Image Square) from the current 11 to 100 locations.
Nikon too is building on retail presence, planning an extension from 81 to 2000 in the near future. They have launched a campaign with Priyanka Chopra, with the core positioning that the pictures taken by a Nikon CoolPix camera are irresistibly awesome and makes the subject of the picture happy.
12 digicam models recently launched, and prices lowered to suit the Indian consumer’s value-for-money inclination
The market leader with a reasonable margin, Sony has been powering ahead with its Cybershot. They use Deepika Padukone to endorse their brands, with a couple of campaigns on air about the great pics it takes. Some were also feature dominated like the one which showcased a panorama view feature.
Now, let me talk about the market segment in general:
1. Cameras are high-involvement products for the customers, in every price segment available. Hence, it is inevitable that before buying the consumer will always ponder a lot, consult quite a few ‘experts’ on the subject before finally making a selection. This is a market where the ‘word-of-mouth’, especially from the ‘influencers’ and ‘early adopters’ would matter most (terms from the Consumer Adoption Life Cycle, read here). People would ask their friends who have a camera, and also the self-proclaimed tech-gurus around.
2. Another set of people who affect the decision are the sales reps in retail outlets. Every camera usually has loads and loads of features, and most consumers eventually use only ‘auto’ mode. But it is the job of the sales representative to build on the features such that the consumer perceives it to be a ‘high-tech’ product, and hence, fulfills the one important unwritten desire that a buyer always has: to show off the camera. It is the sales rep who indirectly gives them pointers on which to show off the camera.
Remember, the consumer wants a product which is easy to use but can show to others as a sophisticated piece of equipment, portraying himself as a savvy customer.
Hence it is important the sales reps are well-trained in both making sales pitches as well as in technical know-how, especially at the exclusive company retail stores.
3. Product Positioning in campaigns
In my view, the product positioning should be centred around the features that it can offer. The commercials should lay more focus on highlighting the features the cameras have, rather than simply saying that it ‘takes great pics’. Campaigns could also talk about explaining the customer the meaning of technology jargons such as mega-pixels, resolution, zoom, 10X etc. For instance, I like this ad run by Canon a few years back:
Interestingly, Canon has come up with language-friendly cameras recently, incorporating Hindi as an operating language. I would love to see a commercial based on Indianization of technology to suit the consumer better.
4. Brand Ambassadors
This, in my view is the one angle that the companies have stumbled over. As I mentioned earlier, the friends from whom opinions are taken about a product are usually young men, of an age group 20-35 years. They are the influencers, and they in turn would be influenced by jargon-talk and not by a beautiful actress on screen.
Also, are Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra really the kind of people whom we would look up to for technology advice? Celebrities are infamously tech-averse in general, and that too actresses with no known association with cameras!
It would have been great to see some campaigns featuring actual photographers, such as Atul Kasbekar, who has shot to fame and some social popularity through his Kingfisher calendar shoots. Brand ambassadors should be such that people would want to buy products endorsed by them. One would perhaps love to buy a cream endorsed by Priyanka Chopra, or a sports kit endorsed by Sachin Tendulkar, but they don’t fit that well into consumer electronics.
Some Stats on the Indian Digital Camera Market:
A) Market Shares : Sony: 27%; Canon: 16.6%; Nikon: 15%
B) Retail Outlets (exclusive) : Sony: 270; Nikon: 81; Canon: 11
C) Recent Launches : Fuji: 12; Samsung: 10; Canon: 18;
Note: I have no clue what Atul Kasbekar, the ace photographer is doing in this ad though. How he helps endorse Mahindra Xylo is a mystery: