Digital camera vendors who are struggling to grow sales in Australia must change their “one brand one policy” approach and start tailoring their product range to different retail groups, claims the general manager of Camera House, Australia’s premier specialist camera chain.
Paul Shearer, General Manager of Camera House, said that demand for SLR type cameras is growing as demand for sub $299 digital camera’s slump. He forecasts a move back to the specialist retailers as consumers move to more complex cameras. “Mass retailers don’t want to spend too much time selling a sub $299 camera – they want this category to be cash and carry. There are also issues with margin in this category”. He said.
“Right now the mass retailers want to play in all parts of the market, this won’t work. The new generation of digital cameras needs to be sold; they need to be explained, especially as the market and profitability move to SLR type cameras with separate lenses”.
“Vendor’s needs to work closer with retailers to identify the market they reach. Brands like Nikon are doing this and as a result they have seen market share gains. They are spending time identifying retailer’s needs”.
“We need to work closer with vendors to marry market research on a given target audience or demographic to determine which are the best models to stock. Some vendors are still taking the “one brand one policy approach” with retailers and this will not work going forward”, he said.
Shearer said that that several vendors like Panasonic with their Lumix brand, and Samsung with their new NX10, are introducing a new class of camera with mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Some experts say that this will be make up 75% of the market in three years time.
John Swainston, Managing Director of Maxwell International, the former distributor of Nikon Cameras, said that the market is changing “The new generation of mirrorless cameras are growing and could well make up three quarters of the market over the next three years”.
When asked who is buying the new generation of SLR type cameras, Shearer said, “Women, soccer mums with two children who want a more sophisticated digital camera. They want better quality pictures, along with the ease of use that the new cameras are delivering.”
He said that the other big market was men 25+ he also said that women were still buying compact cameras as opposed to using their mobile phones to shoot pictures.
“The young girl who is going out with her friends is still investing in a digital camera despite a new generation of Smartphones” said Shearer.
He claimed that too many retailers were following GFK this resulted in them often stocking the same model cameras as their competitors. “GFK data is dangerous and not always accurate. Each retailer has specialist needs and they need to tailor their range not to what their competitors are doing but what is best for their local store”.
When it came to categories, Shearer said that certain categories, such as the HD video camera from brands like Sony, Cisco and JVC, were not working. “The Cisco Flip and the JVC Piciso along with the Sony Bloggie are struggling. The consumer has not taken to this category despite it being a success in the USA. We see growth coming from the new compact SLR category and new SLR cameras. These models allow us to sell both additional lenses and accessories: he said.
In January GFK reported that the average selling price for several digital cameras was climbing however they are forecasting overall decline for compact cameras in 2010.