Only one Number 1, says Canon

March 25, 2010: Canon has been awarded sales research company GfK’s Number 1 category spot for units sales in both digital compacts and DSLRs through 2009.

The award is based on unit sales from January to December 2009 according to GfK retail audit data. Canon’s combined digital camera range has achieved this position for three years running.

Several camera manufacturers have issued press releases over the past few months highlighting their sales achievements based on GfK data, creating some confusion as to what’s actually happening with the camera category ‘league tables’. This has provoked Darren Ryan, Canon’s general manager, Consumer Product Marketing (pictured right), to restate Canon’s ascendancy.

‘There’ve been comments flying around about who is number one and who isn’t number one,’ noted Ryan, observing that claims by other manufacturers have been based on relatively short periods, or narrow definitions of the market and product categories.

On the other hand, Canon can point to sustained market leadership over the entire calendar year (and previous years), in both volume and dollar value terms, in both compacts and DSLRs (and now consumer inkjet printers).

In compacts Canon enjoyed a 17 percent share in unit terms and 23 percent dollar value share. In DSLRs Canon increased its market share by 6 percent, up to a commanding 54 percent. In inkjet printers, Canon has almost exactly one third of the market in both dollar and unit sales terms.

‘Canon’s retention of overwhelming Number 1 share across the board for digital cameras is a gratifying achievement given the fierce competition in the category,’ said Ryan.

‘In addition to volume share, we’re particularly pleased to note that in value terms our 30 per cent share means that one in every three dollars spent on cameras in Australia is spent on a Canon.’

While Canon has maintained market leadership in cameras over a period of years, GfK figures indicate far less daylight between the brand and its competitors. (Hence competitors’ ability to issue press releases claiming sales achievements in specific categories in specific months or quarters). Ryan concedes that competition is getting tougher and Canon ‘has to bring its best game to the market’ to stay on top of the tree.

He attributed Canon’s sustained success to its marketing communications strategy of engaging consumers with the creative aspects of photography, pointing specifically to the World of EOS website as a measurable success story.

‘…We’ve invested heavily in needs-based marketing to gain a sophisticated understanding of the consumer and then work with resellers to offer value-added programs. While the industry is going down the discounting path, we’ve been focussing on adding value to build long-term sustainability in the category, and our strong value growth indicates we’ve been successful.’

Ryan said he would like to see the growing online channel included in GfK’s measurement of the market, but noted that the costs to achieve this might be prohibitive.

He said Canon put online sales at around 10 percent of the marketplace, and that this share was likely to increase.

‘Online is still gaining traction with Australian consumers,’ he said.

He felt that Canon’s market share in online sales would mirror its leadership in the areas of the market GfK measures, noting that Canon used other processes to measure the market beyond GfK data.

Ryan was less confident about putting a figure on sales from online parallel importers, observing that sales ‘fluctuated wildly’ on the basis of changing exchange rates and products in demand, but that it was ‘definitely a component of the marketplace’.

He felt that in the digital compact category in particular, sales were going offshore. He said that in 2010, with the Australian exchange rate at 30 year highs, Canon would be giving the grey market more attention than in the past.


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