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Camera Color Becomes Critical Option

8/30/2010 12:04:00 AM Eastern

TWICE:  This
year we're seeing some really wild things going on with camera colors and
cosmetics; How important has that become in driving the market?

Chuck Westfall, Canon:  Color is definitely more important than
ever.  It's been interesting to see how
it started off as kind of a niche. Now you start to see it in every line,
whether for us it's the A series and then the entry-level Ls and then the
higher-end L's and all that within the point-and-shoot area for sure.  There's a lot of opportunity there.  A couple of things are feeding it.  One is the fact that with the evolution of
e-commerce it's not so difficult for the retailers to store the merchandize or
order the merchandise. Another thing is that it's not just women who are caring
about color. Men are also looking at color as a form of personalization.  They may not choose the same colors as women,
but the colors are there for them and they tend to want to have a choice
between a black or a silver, dark brown, or whatever it is.  It really is not so much about gender exactly
as it is about personalization.  That's
why we're seeing such a broad range of product colors available now.

TWICE:  Are you
looking at other markets to determine what colors are going to be the ones to
go for, and how do you make that determination?

Mark Sherengo,
Pentax:
  For us when we had to launch
the first color d-SLRs in a category, we looked at the PC numbers to see how
the mass accepted color.  For example, we
worked with Dell computers to see what colors were selected by what age, by
what-whether male or female, and to Chuck's point there are a lot of males
buying color.  Thus we have our navy blue
digital camera along with our black model, and the white is kind of a universal
color for males or females in our category. 
We also worked along with some companies and got some information on what
was being accepted.  We picked four
primary colors because we had to.  Pentax
Japan offered 100 colors and 100 solutions.

Mark Sherengo, Pentax:  Even changing the actual pad out, and I think
because they offered that, I'm here today because it just outsold
expectations.  It penetrated a
category.  It allowed that 13- to
23-year-old user to individualize themselves, which is important in that market
in Japan and eventually our goal is to keep bringing that closer to North
America than it is now. But right now we offer 40 colors that we have available
now.  We'll introduce four more this
month, and then by the fall our new product will have the same kind of
category, so color is vital to our existence in this category for us. 

TWICE:  Is anyone looking at the automotive industry
or the fashion industry and the runways of Milan for color trends?

Pete Palermo:  We look at many different sectors of the
economy, not just automobiles, or mobile phones, or PCs, or fashion.  We look at consumer trends that go beyond
consumer products, so attitudes during the economic turmoil that we're having,
you know how people are spending their money, what they're doing with their
time, it all has an influence on what they buy and how they feel.  We change colors every year, probably more
than once a year depending on the category. 
Always looking for ways to stay in pace but one step ahead so trying to
stay ahead of you guys a little bit, but in pace with what's going on in other
categories.  There's lots of change.  We used to look at cell phones and say, `oh,
yeah, those are next year's colors.' 
Maybe not, because I think a lot of us started to look at other consumer
products for some advice and insights. 
Colors are very important country to country, you know, so our primary
target consumer in the U.S. is slightly different than in India, or China, or
Japan, or Latin America. Attitudes towards color are different from one country
to another.  It's an art and science.

TWICE:  So
what's the hot color for the U.S. this Christmas?
 

Rich Campbell,
Samsung:
  You know, I think what is
interesting, most of us all work for global companies now, and I'm sure a lot
of us have, design centers or R&D facilities in different places.  Samsung as a global entity, to Pete's point,
and we have customers that have different needs, different trends, different
desires, different colors, so I think style plays a lot of role in what colors
you choose. We have some products that are really slim, and sleek, and good
looking, so maybe the whole thing doesn't need to be a unique color in and of
itself, but you use colors as accidents to help bring out that style and
design.  We're fortunate to have R&D
centers, and design centers throughout the world.  We've got a design center in Milan
actually.  I think, Greg, you mentioned
Milan, and we have a product innovation team here in the United States that
helps come up with concepts not only from a technology and feature standpoint,
but what makes sense from a style and design perspective.  I think colors really play well into that,
and it's very symbiotic with the style of the products.  Quite frankly as a consumer what a great time
to buy a digital camera. You get great value, great features, great benefits
for, you know, the price points that we're hitting, and, you know, these are
products that you identify with.  They
help you create that self expression, and they're products that you want to be
seen with, you know, so it's kind of a-it's a great time to be a consumer in
this space.

TWICE:  Does
the desire for different colors change with the style of camera that's being
purchased?

David Lee, Nikon:  Certainly. 
Depending on the place in the line up color has a big factor.  For Nikon, you know, we've been really very
active in color for a long time, and when we look at what the overall trend of
the industry is, we're usually going a little different than that in trend
because color has been, I mean at mother's day the number one selling camera
was a plumb camera, so that isn't a color you would think of as one gender or
the other, but color drives based on what the price point of the product is,
based on the demographic you're going after and it's an art to pick the color
that will drive the business.  But it's
certainly not always black or silver like our industry was for so many
years.   As cameras have become more of an individual
purchase, color has been a more and more important factor.

Dennis Eppel,
Panasonic:
  One other thing I would
say about color, we're very cognizant of color, and we actually talk to our
customers about the color, what they think, so the buyers, the dealers, and
users of course.  We try to get as much
feedback as we can, but we're very, very careful because we've all had that bad
experience about not having the right color. 
So we try to limit them. Japan will come up with 1,000 different
colors.  We're looking at those, and
we've got one spot on the post-which color. 
We have a good feeling on which colors will succeed.  Plum is one color that surprised me but it's doing
very well for some reason.  Blues do very
well and the silver and blacks are kind of mainstream. But you've got to be very
careful with color.

Looking at the color selections for the various hybrids available
outside and inside of the U.S. - some have chosen to go a little more
aggressively.  I'm not going to name a
color, but there are some that may be more feminine than others.  I think when you talk about the silvers and
the blues, that's very gender neutral, which we've chosen for the most part
with the hybrid cameras in the U.S. 

TWICE:  How are
the retailers juggling this?  Are they
going to carry all of these different colors? How do you determine which
accounts get which colors?

Dennis Eppel:  They judge very carefully.  They're very careful in the colors that the
select because they obviously don't want to be stuck with a color that doesn't
work as well, so my experience anyway is they really have a sense of which
colors do fairly well.  Some might be
questionable, so they'll take a chance and what they tend to do is those colors
that are a little bit on the outside, they'll do a dot com type of purchases,
not maybe in store right away, so they'll wait a little bit, see how it work on
.com.  I it does well, then they may
bring it in as regular SKU.  I don't
think color is just gender.  It's
obviously age, so, you know, there are different age groups that the colors
change, so you're hitting price points, color, age and gender.

Mark Sherengo, Pentax:  And knowing the buyer's age, I know our
experience color wasn't a very accepted solution to put on the pedestal when
you only have one choice.  It's a risk
the buyer has to make, so offering a solution that helps with that risk, maybe
offering the one that they put on the pedestal. 
Stores have their top twenty available, and then they have their other
hundred stores that are not as large in volume, so maybe put the traditional
colors there and then their top twenty stores you put the color variation.  That seems to work for them, but I'll tell
you it scared a lot of the buyers that are my age.

Chuck Westfall, Canon:  With all due respect to Mark, I think that
when we talk about color and cameras we're talking largely about the compact
digital camera market as a whole.  And if
we say that, then we have to look at how those cameras are being sold in the
compact digital camera market. Somewhere north of 50 percent are being sold
through the mass market chain and in that segment virtually everybody has got
both an online presence as well as a brick-and-mortar component.  So those same dealers will have every color
available in their on-line component, and then they'll pick colors for the
store based on space. 

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