Olympus executives outlined a new marketing approach – in which photo specialists play a central role – to a select group of Australian retailers in Japan last week for the CP+ show in Yokohama.
The Australian visitors were welcomed by Hirofumi Imano, the division manager of Olympus’ Product & Marketing Planning Division, who provided a brief history of the company. It was founded in 1919 to manufacture and sell optical microscopes. Building on its core competencies in opto-digital technologies, the company has grown to employ 32,937 staff and achieve consolidated net sales of approximately US$7.4 billion as of March 2013, the end of its last financial year.
Production is split into four areas: imaging; medical; industrial; and life sciences. Imaging represents just 15 percent of the total business, despite the company’s long-standing reputation as a camera and lens manufacturer.
This expertise has flowed into other areas of the business. Olympus has long been a world leader in the development and production of medical imaging equipment. For instance, it is the largest manufacturer of endoscopes, which represent 41 percent of the total business.
The Imaging Division’s mid-term plan is to increase its focus on what Olympus calls the ‘SLR’ business, represented by the OM-D series cameras, Zuiko lenses and accessories. The strategy is to establish Olympus, OM-D and Zuiko as premium brands built on advanced optical, imaging and audio technologies and promote their advantages emphasising technological strength, differential benefits, competitiveness, sales power and pricing.
Olympus wants to build sales to 1 million OM-D cameras, with marketing focused primarily in 70 cities worldwide (including Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne),where disposable incomes are high. The company’s approach will change from ‘sell-in’ to ‘sell-through’ businesses, which places photo specialists front and centre in Olympus’ plans. This will be backed by a solid customer relationship management (CRM) structure combined with online marketing, with web-based customer contact encouraging the taking and sharing of photographs.
The new advertising model aims to develop a ‘buzz’ response from fans in order to secure repeat purchasers with brand loyalty for Olympus cameras and lenses. There will be special emphasis on young and female customers with good photo literacy and internet awareness. They will be approached through search marketing, tuition and training via photo schools and community activities.
These initiatives were reinforced by the president of Olympus Imaging, Haruo Ogawa, who stressed that the imaging business will be based upon cameras, with a business model focusing upon brand loyalty, opinion leaders, training and support. The camera business, he stressed, involves excellent products, with three flagship models launched in 2013 (the OM-D E-M1, PEN E-P5 and Stylus 1) providing brand value, take-anywhere convenience and ‘the best image quality in any environment’.
He added that key technology initiatives introduced with these cameras include FAST AF, 5-Axis Image Stabilisation, large EVFs, art filters, splash-, dust- and freeze-proof bodies and the easy-to-use Olympus ‘OI Share’ app.
Concluding the session, Marc Radatt, former head of Australian operations and now general manager, Olympus Corporation Asia Pacific, also stressed the importance of the retail trade, which he described as the ‘backbone’ of the company’s activities. He emphasised the need to increase training and provide visual merchandising as well as employing photo-centric people at the frontline where they could convey a ‘passion for photography’.
‘Olympus has a great future,’ he affirmed. ‘We have the right product at the right time. This gives us a great opportunity to challenge the market leadership. It may take a while – but we have confidence.’
Taking these initiatives to the Australian and regional markets, Kristie Galea, the marketing manager for Olympus Imaging Australia, said the Olympus brand and business was changing, and local marketing was adapting to consumers’ changing approach to advertising. Olympus would mainly focus upon creating attention, driving interest, facilitating, sharing and motivating customers to engage with photography.
This year will see a shift towards content creation, aimed at giving people something they can’t get from anyone else. It will involve partnerships with premium brands, bloggers and other content creators, training and building relationships with customers via CRM, social media, professional photographer endorsement, specialist media placements and sponsorships of photography-related events.
‘The E-M10 campaign is region-wide,’ she explained. ‘Its theme, “Power to the People”, is based upon a John Lennon song and encourages them to move into a new world.’
Olympus’s research shows the potential audience for the campaign is more than two million people, with just over 68 percent of them living in cities and a slight skew towards females. Most of them are digitally literate and value being connected. The growth in online activity, along with prominent outdoor advertising, offers opportunities to reach these customers. Olympus has decided against TV as a medium due to the fall-off in TV viewing.
Ms Galea says Olympus will take a multi-layered approach using ‘contextually relevant’ sites like YouTube and CNet and outdoor advertising via AdShel and JCDecaux as well as dedicated editorial through GQ and Vogue featuring use of Olympus products, and partnerships with National Geographic Live as well as lifestyle bloggers like ‘Not Quite Nigella’, ‘Fat Mum Slim’ and ‘Retro Mummy’. Olympus is also a major sponsor for the up-coming Head On Festival as well as Vivid Sydney.
The outdoor advertising campaign will see around 800 panels spread across the country. There will also be media placements to drive search and action and create paths to purchase – especially the sales counters of photo specialists.
– Margaret Brown. (Margaret traveled to Japan to attend the CP+ Show as one of a small group of journalists and representatives of leading Australian retailers hosted by Olympus Imaging Australia.)