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Canon is seeing more growth potential in Tier 2 & 3 markets: Eddie Udagawa

In an era of increasingly sophisticated camera phones, Canon has been able to hold its own as a leading imaging technology brand. Innovation and Customer Delight have been the two pillars of Canon’s outreach in India. The company’s future growth plans include retail expansion and deeper regional penetration into Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities. 

In keeping with Canon India’s transition from an experiential model to an ‘experiential imaging destination’, the company launched the Gen-Z version of its retail outlet – Canon Image Square 3.0 – in India in January this year. Moving beyond just being a product store, CIS 3.0 would be an ‘imaging store,’ that would allow consumers to make memories and be allured by the magic of photography. 

As per Cohn & Wolfe’s report on Authentic Brands Study for India, Canon was placed 52nd amongst the Top 100 Brands in India in 2017. 

Canon recently expanded its product offering in India with the launch of Canon EOS 1500D and EOS 3000D from its EOS DSLR series. The brand has rolled out an integrated campaign – ‘Make every trip an EOS trip’ – to support this launch. Through this campaign, Canon intends to reiterate the camera prowess of its EOS series, through travel, storytelling and social media. For the first time ever, countrywide marketers will witness a campaign that engages social media, travel influencers as its campaign ambassadors. Adding elements of newer concepts, the campaign will also involve contextual promotion on YouTube. 

Canon India is taking the campaign to Tier 2 and 3 markets. It is targeted at an audience for whom travel forms an integral part of their lives, be it planned or unplanned. And so the campaign emphasises on different kinds of travel genre that aims to encourage people to capture and cherish life’s special travel memories. 

As a part of this campaign, the brand has engaged with three influencers, who, being travel photographers themselves have featured as the main cast in the TV commercial. The influencers – @bruisedpassports, @sadak_chap, and @dharnidh – have been assigned a theme each: togetherness; around the town; and day & night, respectively. Besides the TV shoot, the influencers will capture their travel experiences along individual themes over a span of 6 weeks starting April 12, 2018, and will share their updates on their respective social media handles with #EOSTrip. The content will also be officially published on a microsite edge.canon.co.in/EOS_Trip. 

In conversation with Adgully, Eddie Udagawa, Vice President, Consumer Imaging and Information Centre, Canon India, speaks at length about the brand’s growth trajectory in India, steps taken to promote the culture of photography in the country, competition from camera phones and more. Excerpts: 

What is the objective behind the latest campaign for Canon?
The latest range of 1500D and 3000D are the entry level camera models and new products. Taking this opportunity, we have launched this 360 degree campaign and we are focussing on travel this time and we call this – ‘Make every trip, an EOS trip’. The TG is, hence, the Millennials as these days a lot of young people want to travel, so we want them to take their camera and capture great moments. Our aim through this initiative is to promote photography in India. From this stand point, we want more people to use our entry level cameras. We want to spread pan India. Therefore, this time we have also used three digital media influencers. The idea was that they also use our cameras and talk about EOS. This time, media wise, we have used Print, TV and Digital. 

Canon’s tagline is ‘Make every trip an EOS trip’. How do you plan to transcend this into activity? Any activities being carried out during the summer vacation time?
Utilising the vacation time to reach to our TG is a great thought and we will fully utilise this message in our promotions. We will maximise our effects at the right time. This time, in addition we have also created a microsite where people can see the promo and video as well. 

Primarily, we want the millennials to use EOS for their trips and enjoy clicking photos, no matter how short their trip is. 

What was the brief given to the agency?
The creatives have been done by Hakuhodo India, which has been Canon’s choice for communication from time-to-time. The idea behind the TVC was a simple one, which is to encourage people to not just take good pictures on their planned and unplanned travels and holidays, but also engage with the real world and take a step back from their virtual presence, share their real tweets, real life and real memories. This is the first time when we have roped in travel influencers to be a part of our campaign and feature in it. We did our research on these influencers’ reach and followers from across the metros to Tier 2 and 3 cities. 

With the youth TG increasingly going in for smartphones with sophisticated cameras and editing facilities, how do you see Canon making inroads in this market?
The younger consumers want to upload their pictures as soon as they click and want to get more likes, shares and attention from their viewers. Phone comes in handy for this purpose, but since so many pictures are uploaded every day, there should be something different from the others; a DSLR is the best option. It gives a higher quality image and sometimes capturing a moment is only possible with a DSLR, which is far better than mobile cameras. 

So, this is what I want to convey to the users as I too use both camera phone and a DSLR. The final quality, angles, technicalities that can be captured with a DSLR, can’t be captured by a camera phone. That is where Digital SLR is a recommended option over camera phones. 

I personally use an EOS 70D, one generation before camera but still very good! Canon provides a big range of lenses that even a novice can use and the variety is a strong point for the Canon users. 

We cannot just compare a smartphone with a DSLR camera, because a smartphone can be used to make phone calls, which a DSLR camera can’t. But looking at our camera functions alone, the 3000D is priced at Rs 31,995 and compared to a high-end camera phones, this is affordable. I hope the millennials will find good value in this product and can enjoy photography better. 

What are the growth opportunities are you eyeing in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets in India?
India is a big market and people across metros and Tier 1 cities know about Canon as a brand and our products. Today, Canon is the leader in the Digital Interchangeable Lens Camera market, but we are seeing more potential in Tier 2 and 3 cities. More young people are interested in gadgets; it can be understood from the sale of mobile phones. We want these mobile phone camera users to use our cameras to take much better photos. Also, today the spending power of the people has gone up, so we want to encourage them to invest their money in a DSLR camera. 

What are the unprecedented differentiators that you are providing to the users who are new to this range of 15500D and 3000D Canon cameras?
That is a bit tough question for us as well. We are providing some choices to the customers who want to have bigger LCD screens. But a person who just wants to look at the price, 3000D is a good option. Our idea is to provide good options to our customers in entry level photography. 

Being an integrated campaign, what other media platforms will be a part of this?
Initially, we will use the TVC and Digital media platform, but we are also focusing more in Tier 2 and 3 cities. However, since it is a pan Indian campaign there will be a print campaign as well, we have selected the publications in such a way that it reaches more readers, including regional readers. Apart from that, we have certain brands and other material that our regional offices will be using across media, whenever required. In the regional space, we are using digital also to our advantage, YouTube and selecting regional GEC channels that cater to most parts of India. We also have our POS material that regional teams will be promoting through workshops. 

Apart from the mid-range cameras, you also have high end cameras that people are increasingly investing in. How are you straddling across the various price points?
Currently, Canon is offering the EOS 3000D and 1500D in the market at affordable prices. But for customers looking for higher specifications, mirrorless cameras, or higher technology cameras, we have just launched another range keeping that in mind. So, price points are different depending on the technology, purposes, specifications and it even depends on the kind of consumers we cater to. Of course, from a manufacturer’s side, for this purpose and application what product and price point is valid; we keep doing this kind of consultation sale. 

With major competition from Nikon, Leica, Hasselblad, etc., how do you see Canon faring in the race? It is not just the camera brands, you are also competing with camera phone brands. What’s the gratification for the customers there?
Last year, we were No.1 in terms of market share. Looking at promoting photography culture, it is good to have competition. If there is only one company, it is difficult to grow the market and meet all the consumer demands. With competition in the market, we will try to create better products, which mean more consumers will be interested in our product range. Actually all the competitors do aggressive advertisement and promotion, so we too come up with something new and different so that more Indians will develop a stronger interest in photography. 

What is your future strategy for the Indian market? Where do you see the maximum growth for Canon as a company?
We are trying to meet the new Indians’ demands. Currently, the demand for mirrorless cameras is slow in India, while there is a high demand for DSLRs. In many other countries, mirroless cameras are in high demand. So, in line with our corporate tagline – ‘Delighting you always’ – we want to delight the Indian customers always and if they seek DSLR, we give them DSLR. That is our strategy in India – growing with the demands of our market. Our business has been growing in double digits year on year. The biggest demand is coming for entry level cameras even in the mobile camera phone age. The demand of high end cameras is also there, but we are happy to cater to the demand at the entry level.

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