In a recent podcast interview, Fujifilm US Imaging Division president, Manny Almeida stressed the central role the photo specialty channel had in Fuji’s plans going, as they say, forward.
Among the things he said which would make an Australian or New Zealand photo specialist jump for joy if it was applicable to the local scene was: ‘I think our customer base is changing and the specialist store is becoming much, much more important because of the complexity of the products, so we have to go out and promote to the right target audience but also support the right base of customers.’
– If this was a new global direction for Fujifilm, then Fujifilm’s photo specialty customers in A/NZ would also benefit. Indeed, if Fujifilm Australia were to move its not inconsiderable resources behind the specialty channel, it would be a rising tide which lifts all boats in that channel.
So we approached Fujifilm Australia with a few questions based on that Manny Almeida interview. This is the response, unedited and in full:
What is Fujifilm planning to work with its photo specialist customers this year?
Fujifilm is committed to a range of initiatives aimed at supporting photo specialist customers. These include:
1. Providing relevant information to the specialty channel via a monthly blog.
2. Producing point of sale material such as posters, header cards and generic artwork which aims to educate consumers on printing from phone and printing from social media.
Fujifilm’s market research indicates there is significant opportunity to educate consumers on:
• Printing from their phone;
• Printing from social media (eg, Instagram prints).
3. Fujifilm continues to provide trusted representation to the channel and works on a local basis to provide custom-made solutions, such as signage, to our specialty customers.
What is Fujifilm doing in terms of ‘promoting to the right target audience’ in terms of printing services?
Fujifilm is planning a PR campaign in the second half of the year aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of printing photos.
Does Fujifilm share the belief of Fujifilm US that the specialist store is becoming ‘much, much more important’?
Definitely – customers can do more with their images which makes specialty very relevant. The category is no longer simply 6 x 4 photos – it includes canvas, photo books, photo gifts etc.
These products require more interaction with customers and we see specialty playing a key role here. It’s also about engaging younger customers and making the offering relevant. It’s about providing an environment where younger customers feel comfortable, inspired and excited.
We can see the results of this in the Fujifilm Wonder Photo Shop in Tokyo where younger customers are printing from their phones and making a number of different products, for example phone cases, framed collage prints etc.
The ongoing support and growth of the photographic specialty channel is extremely important to Fujifilm, particularly for our digital camera business.
Several years ago, Fujifilm recognised the rapid decline in the compact digital camera market – due to the impact of mobile devices – and made a conscience decision to concentrate on the professional and enthusiast segment of the market with its high quality X Series mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and lenses, as well as premium compact cameras.
For this shift in our business to be successful it was paramount that the support of photo specialists was obtained and maintained. A strategy of ‘heating the core’ was developed where we work closely with our key specialty retail partners to develop the X Series range and support them with training, launch events, touch and try programs, and promotional activity that mutually benefits both the growth of the retailer and the Fujifilm X Series brand.
We are very proud to say that as a result of this approach more than 85 percent of our
X series turnover is through our photo specialty partners who continue to enjoy the expansion of X Series within their businesses.