Marketing the right image

Marketing the right image

On the global front, Canon is regarded as a brand that produces state-of-the-art technology. In India, its image remains much the same. However, over the last few years, Canon India has made efforts to change this image. It has restructured its marketing campaigns to give the Indian consumer a diversified image of the company. Be it through the establishment of ‘Image Lounges’ or through photography contests, Canon is looking for ways to connect with the Indian consumer.

Kensaku Konishi, president and chief executive of Canon India sees huge unrealised potential in this market. “The Indian market is just beginning to develop and lots of changes are happening now. Therefore, to cater to as well as follow up these changes is a big challenge for us,” he says. An added challenge is the Indian market’s diverse geography. “We have to cover the country geographically while keeping in mind the complex demands of our customers based on the industry, segment, location and distribution channel,” say Konishi.

The company’s sales force has been one of its strengths, contributing significantly to its success so far. “We conduct several technical, product and sales training sessions through which we get our sales people to imbibe our policies and share our vision and direction,” says Konishi. Currently, Canon India has a strength of 800 people spread across seven branch offices. Konishi says that in two years’ time, its strength will grow to 1000 with two additional branch locations.

Experiential marketing

Canon has followed an India specific marketing plan that has helped in furthering consumer connect. The company’s marketing techniques make its new propositions relevant to young and aspiring consumers.

One of the company’s first marketing initiatives was to set up Image Lounges in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Each of these cities has two Image Lounges, one for business-to-business customers (B2B) and one for direct consumers (B2C). The B2B lounges showcase office machines and application software in a non-selling environment while the B2C lounges provide the appropriate ambience and platform for new products and technologies.

The first half of 2010 saw Canon India establish ‘Pro-zones’ that showcase their photography product ranges in New Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, with plans to go to Bengaluru and Hyderabad amongst other cities. The Pro-zones will help consumers make an informed purchase as they get to touch, feel and experience the entire gamut of consumer, prosumer and professional cameras and accessories. The company also conducted 80 workshops exclusively on wedding photography through the year.

Another successful marketing initiative for the year was the launch of ‘Canon Image Express’ – the largest consumer exhibition on wheels. The Image Express consists of a caravan of six re-modeled centers which opens up to 4,800 square feet of floating showroom space and displays over 80 Canon products. Thus far, the caravan has visited nine cities and clocked over 25,000 footfalls resulting in revenues of Rs. 1 crore. The plan for the year is for the caravan to travel across 38 cities. Canon India recognises the emergence of India’s cities beyond the metropolises. “As a part of our future marketing strategy we are focusing on Tier-II and Tier-III cities and that includes opening more outlets and service centers,” says Konishi. “To achieve our growth targets we plan to invest Rs. 1,000 crore towards promotions and improving marketing infrastructure,” he adds.

The company’s efforts are ably supported by its product development team. Konishi says, “We spend more than 8 per cent of our worldwide turnover on research and development every year. This effort has in turn enabled Canon India to introduce more than 100 new products every year for Indian consumers.”

Courting growth

Canon India closed 2009 with revenues of Rs. 840 crore, a 27 per cent growth over 2008. For 2010, its sights are set on furthering revenue growth. “We expect to register a turnover of Rs. 1,200 crore in 2010 which will be a 42 per cent growth over 2009,” states Konishi. Encouraged by robust growth in operations last fiscal, the company aims at becoming a billion-dollar enterprise by 2015.

Also, a big advantage that Canon India possesses is the ability to provide entry level products as well as products meant for professional use in all categories. “We are the only company that can provide comprehensive products covering all imaging areas be it capturing through cameras or scanners and printing through our various printers as well as copying machines,” he adds, emphatically. The company definitely looks to gain leverage from this differentiator.

Today, Canon India has a leading position in the market share for its various products like copying machines, laser printers, scanners and digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras. Konishi spells out the company’s ambitions with clarity, “We want to be the biggest print solution provider who takes care of all consumer needs covering office use and home use. We will also aim to be the number one camera vendor including digital SLRs as well as compact cameras.” With its marketing focused strategy in place, Canon India looks set to capture the heart and head of the Indian consumer.

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