By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
After a year of corporate cross-pollination and the replacement of key personnel, Konica Minolta's imaging business has been re-launched in an effort to gain traction in the fiercely competitive imaging market.
The effort is being led by former Sony executive Todd Schrader, who was brought on as the company's marketing VP and has since been promoted to sales and marketing senior VP, assuming the responsibility for the company's sales force.
The merger, announced on January 2003, was principally billed as an effort to help the two companies compete in the enterprise office printer market but has combined the company's two consumer imaging product lines: digital cameras and retail photofinishing equipment.
The months since the merger have been spent streamlining the back office including the creation of a “more effective” purchasing, sales and inventory system for its consumer imaging products and most importantly “a culture change,” Schrader said.
“When I arrived, you had the Konica people and the Minolta people, and I worked to create one coordinated team.” Schrader noted that particularly in sales, the effort was a textbook case of a house divided, with Konica staff focusing on the photofinishing products and Minolta staff working on the digital still cameras.
To improve the company's competitive fortunes, and leverage the full range of products born of the merger, Schrader said Konica Minolta is now selling a “total imaging solution” ranging from point-and-shoot digital still cameras and inkjet paper for home printing to in-store kiosks and digital minilabs.
Schrader said the company would not look for entry-level customers but the replacement buyer who is searching for more features for the price. To that end, the company will migrate its anti-shake technology — currently used in its d-SLR — down its line, while also gearing a d-SLR for the soccer mom.
“The d-SLR market will be surprised by the rise of the soccer mom,” Schrader said. “This will be a product easy enough to just pick up and use but sophisticated enough for advanced users to dig into.”
Schrader said the company's focus is on higher-end and specialty dealers.
“When we look at the market, where is the replacement buyer going to go? Thirty percent of them want an ultra-compact model, 35 percent want more zoom, and 12 percent want a d-SLR. They're not buying that at mass merchants but at CE and camera specialty stores,” Schrader said.
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