Too little too late

Cameras in India have evolved rapidly in the last few years.
Camera segment

From being a thing of luxury, cameras have become an item of daily use in the recent times. In the course of this evolution, the shutter camera of earlier days gave way to digital cameras and finally, the DSLR cameras emerged with Nikon and Canon introducing their state-of-the-art models in the Indian market in the 1990s. Today, the DSLR cameras, which were once considered a niche product, are being increasingly used by professional photographers as well as amateur photography enthusiasts in India.

Overlooking cost for quality

The buoyant growth of DSLR cameras in India is both surprising and crucial, given that DSLR sales around the world in the last one year have been hurt by a number of factors, primarily due to the tsunami in Japan, the floods in Thailand, tepid performance of the US economy, the euro-zone economic crisis, and the protests in the Middle East and North Africa. Also, the customers, who used to prefer compact cameras till a couple of years ago, are now upgrading, which is a very natural phenomenon.

The current scenario of the market is that there are varied brands offering products at every price point. While the entry level camera segment has definitely been affected by the impact of mobile cameras, there has not been much impact on the sale of digital and DSLR cameras. Another important factor that has given a boost to the sales of DSLR cameras in India is the fact that despite being a notoriously price-conscious society, of late, Indians have started to overlook the costs. Hence, even though the Nikon models come at a price range of Rs 32,950 to Rs 5 lakh and Canon models at a range tad lesser, Indians are not hesitating when it comes to splurging on cameras.

Competing with the best

Such has been the popularity and demand of DSLR cameras in India that more and more brands are entering the Indian market with new offerings. However, Japanese rivals, Nikon and Canon, continue to rule the DSLR market in India, and experts say the time is not right for emerging brands to make their presence felt in the market.

Wrong step at the wrong time

Fujifilm, a brand which was famous in the 1980s for its cameras and film rolls, is struggling hard to make its mark in the market, which is dominated by Nikon and Canon. Experts say this struggle is primarily because the brand entered the digi-market a tad too late, after Nikon and

Canon had already established themselves in the market, selling over 99 per cent of the DSLR cameras that Indians buy.

According to leading research experts, compact cameras contribute around Rs 3,000 crore to the Rs 4,500 crore Indian camera market, while the DSLR segment contributes only Rs 750 crore. The staggering point, however, is that while the compact segment is projecting a steady 40 per cent growth year-on-year, the DSLR cameras have stolen the march and are clocking an impressive 100 per cent growth rate, which is promising from a short and long-term point of view.

However, industry insiders feel that the market growth is primarily due to compact cameras, which contribute around 90 per cent of the total share, whereas the share of DLSR is yet to have a significant role, which clearly contradicts the real scenario.

Slow but steady

Fujifilm accepts that it entered the market a bit too late, but explains that it is working hard to reposition itself in the market. “We made our entry into the market in 2008, which is fairly late as compared to the other brands. The reason for this is that during the initial 3-4 years, we were formulating our support and widening our penetration and product visibility,” says Sriwant Wariz, National Marketing Manager, Fujifilm India.

Owing to this delay, the brand has not only been struggling to find a place for itself in the market, it has also failed to rake in the moolah. While Canon expects its India sales to nearly double to Rs 5,000 crore in the next three years, Fujifilm refuses to divulge its revenue details. It does, however, share the fact that it spent close to Rs 45 crore last year as its marketing budget, and this year, it has a revised budget of Rs 65 crore for aggressive ATL activities with the brand’s newly announced brand ambassador.

“We had plans to gain a 9 per cent market share initially, but due to natural calamities, our shipment got affected, which resulted in a share of only 7 per cent. Now, however, we plan to compete with the likes of Nikon and Canon and are working hard towards it. We are not chasing the market; we are creating our own niche, choosing a path that has been less travelled,” Wariz added.

Giving the brand a celebrity makeover

In order to reposition its image in the market, Fujifilm has now adopted the much-acclaimed strategy of appointing a brand ambassador. In the camera segment, while Sachin Tendulkar represents Canon, Priyanka Chopra has been appointed by Nikon for promoting their Coolpix range of cameras. Now, following in their footsteps, Fujifilm has chosen Minissha Lamba as its brand icon. “A brand ambassador’s personality needs to compliment and imbibe with the brand. Minissha has been very meticulous in choosing movies, which shows she is adamant in creating a niche for herself, and this is where we felt that she can ably represent Fujifilm,” informs Wariz.

Grow by reaching out

The major challenge that companies have faced in India has been their inability to penetrate extensively. And this is the area that Fujifilm is concentrating on in order to grow.

When we say that Nikon has 22 service centres across the country, including four main stores in the metros, the figure clearly underlines the basic problem considering the geographic reach of the country. For the non-metros, it has 18 small "service facilities" and close to 50 "collection centres" with local partners. Nikon is also engaged with 2,500 channel partners.

Canon, on the other hand, has opened 50 stores, called Canon Image Square, in 32 towns and is building up the numbers rapidly.

Fujifilm, however, promises to have around 3,000 outlets in more than 500 cities pan India for bridging this geographic gap. The brand has also created a strong network chain in the metros. At present, Fujifilm has six service points in the country and plans to have 11 more. However, the area that the brand has clearly worked upon is the network channel, and has 67 distributors in India at present.

Brands’ share in the Indian camera market Brand Market share (in %) Canon 45% Nikon 55% Others (Fujifilm, Kodak, etc) 5%

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