Magazine Article


Good Things in Small Packages


World travelers will revel in Samsung's NV series of digicams, which strive to stand out from the crowd of "me-too" cameras. "Perhaps the most revolutionary feature offered by the NV series is Samsung's Smart Touch user interface," says Stewart Henderson, VP of Marketing, Samsung Opto-Electronics America. "By using a row of touch-sensitive buttons surrounding the LCD, users can effortlessly adjust and control key camera settings. On select models, the World Tour Guide provides travel information covering 4,500 regions in 30 countries-helping users to plan trips and find their way while on the road."

Capitalizing on These Features

So how can retailers leverage these great features and convince consumers to buy? There's not a one-size-fits-all technique. "Large national chains, smaller regional ones, and local shops have significant differences in the resources available to them and the way they approach the sale," says Panasonic's Alex Fried, national marketing manager, Imaging. "What may work for one could be wrong for another. However, in the broad sense, the retailer should highlight the aspirational nature of the digital photography category and the buyer's desire to take higher-quality images.

"Indeed, the high quality certainly is a feature that should not be overshadowed by compact digital cameras' often-appealing price. "Sometimes it is important to remind the consumer that a camera is a tool to preserve their most precious memories," says Nikon's Giordano.

Because digital cameras in a compact size are so small (and are often accompanied by a low price point), it's often necessary for retailers to fight the perception that they don't have the features consumers need and want. "The DXG-110, for instance, is one of the first 10MP digital still cameras to be offered for less than $200," says Marco V. delRosario, product marketing manager for DXG. "However, [it] still provides advanced features and technology found on more high-end cameras." Retailers need to, therefore, drive home the point that you can own a camera that's capable of taking crisp, vibrant pictures at a reasonable price.

Casio's Heuer maintains that the retailer needs to really highlight high-profile features to move cameras off the shelves. "The biggest challenge retailers and the industry are facing is the rapid decline in average selling prices," he says. "Unit growth remains positive, but revenue is starting to flatten or decline with the drop in average selling prices. This decline is due in part to the lack of products that offer clear, compelling reasons [for consumers] to buy cameras at higher prices. Most consumers don't fully understand the benefit of more megapixels or features like face detection. They will pay more for more obvious features like a really attractive, thin, stylish camera or a camera that can playback high-quality video. In addition to helping maintain higher average selling prices, exciting colors and features…can also help retailers expand their customer base by attracting younger consumers."

Retailers also need to know their customers' lifestyles and needs. "With the number of replacement and incremental camera purchases exceeding first-time purchases, the consumer is better educated on their digital photography needs," says Fujifilm's Calverly. "They know what they didn't like about their first camera and what they want in their next camera. Understanding how the consumer lives, the types of activities they participate in, and the types of pictures they take most frequently will help determine the right replacement camera for them."

Nikon's Giordano concurs. "The retailer should work with the consumer to determine what the best camera is for their lifestyle to personalize the shopping experience," he says. Does the consumer do a lot of outdoor travel? Is the customer looking for a more advanced camera experience and will eventually move to an SLR? These users are different from the young and hip consumer looking to document life while looking the "fashionista."

Camera Bars, Cross-Promotions, and Colors

Something as simple as appealing to a customer's hue preference can increase sales. "A proven sales technique in the car industry to close more sales is to move the buying discussion to which color [the customer likes]," says Heuer. "Cameras are no different-do you want the pink or the blue Casio camera? It's often the best approach."

Fujifilm agrees. "Colors are a huge selling point for the FinePix Z10fd, and many retailers are using color to promote this camera, both in-store and online," says David Troy, senior product manager, Electronic Imaging Products. His colleague, Calverley, agrees: "Merchandising all five colors on a camera bar or endcap grabs the customer's eye and draws them to the brilliant and modern design. Then, all the customers need do is figure out which color is 'theirs!'"

And even if you can't carry every color in your store, you still need to let your customers know that what they want, you can get. "Colors on cameras have made an impact," says Kodak's Ford. "While some of the smaller retailers may not have breadth in their stores, you can still offer an assortment online. Merchandise correctly to someone who's looking for breadth; message that [with] in-store signage (if you don't see a blue model here, we can get it for you)."