The launch of two major new cameras this week – the Fujifilm X-T1 and the Olympus OM-D E-M10, highlighted some areas for improvement by Australian distributors working in a globalised market.
The two companies handled their news quite differently. Olympus had a tight worldwide embargo on the new release but briefed at least one local journalist, camera reviewer Margaret Brown, on the pending release, and even provided her with a unit so that she was able to publish an Australian ‘First look’ review the minute after the embargo expired.
Big deal? Well yes, actually it is. Because those early-adoptor types who might have a voracious interest in this new camera will otherwise look for further information on a US website, and many of those camera enthusiast websites are linked directly to US online retailers like B&H.
The press kit supplied by Olympus to local journalists contained those all-important factors in the equation, the RRP ($999 with kit lens) and when the camera was to be available – late February. Presumably Olympus briefed its retailer customers on these details as well, as today you can see the E-M10 along with RRP on the Ted’ Cameras website. This is an excellent implementation of the first, critical stage of an inclusive marketing communications strategy for the new camera.
Yet increasingly, new product ‘launches’ in Australia are being made without an RRP and sometimes even without a release date. Once again, those who are really interested in buying a product are going to seek that information elsewhere. In the process they might be attracted by the overseas price and put in an order. Keep in mind these aren’t necessarily the bargain-hunters, but the usually well-heeled but impatient early adoptors who just want the product as soon as possible, and aren’t necessarily going to shop around for the lowest price.
If you ‘want it and want it now’ the contrast between Australian retailers who aren’t even made aware by distributors that a camera has been released, and overseas retailers who can give you a price and an estimated time of delivery, is critical.
Imagine if there were demonstration models in-store at the time of the announcement! ‘Can I take an order so you’ll get your in the first shipment, sir?’
Fujifilm Australia handled things differently to Olympus: While there was no local pre-release briefing to specialist media on the X-T1, elsewhere around the world Fujifilm has been leaking like a sieve, and actually been running a teaser advertising campaign on the new camera! And in a globalised marketplace, news of a teaser campaign in one market jumps borders, so for the last few weeks ‘well-founded rumours’ have been all over the internet. One site even had the US and Japanese pricing for the camera a week before the official announcement. The local Fujifilm people insisted there was a strict embargo on the news – their hands were tied.
– Yet in other parts of the world Fujifilm has provided key journalists with pre-release units to put through there paces so that on January 28, the day of the announcement, DP Review was able to run a ‘First Impressions’ review of the camera, along with an invitation to order the camera from DPReview’s Gearshop. (DPReview and its Gearshop are owned by Amazon, by the way.)
Jump onto the Australian camera websites and the X-T1 is invisible. As well as potentially bleeding sales to overseas retailers via overseas camera review/news websites, this is just a bad look for the local industry in the eyes of our customers, making the Australian camera retailing scene look a little like Sleepy Hollow.
But it’s probably unfair to single out Fujifilm. The only reason to do so is that the two camera releases co-incided, providing something of a contrast. Likewise, I’m aware that on the ‘side of the angels’, Panasonic and Nikon have also been working hard lately to keep retailers in the loop on new releases.
It’s probably not a first order issue for most retailers, but when suppliers work with their customers, and even with the local specialist media – we really are all in this together – they will get far more bang for their buck, and present to the buying public as if we really are, as an industry, geared up to compete in a global marketplace.
Let’s give Australian camera buyers as little reason as possible to venture outside the confines of the local ‘ecosystem’ – which includes enthusiast websites and online retailers.