The market of digital cameras have steadily evolved in India in recent times, with more consumers buying DSLRs and similar advanced cameras. The advent of smartphones indirectly pushed the art of photography beyond hobbyists and professionals, and more people began opting for dedicated cameras, hence boosting the entry segment of cameras in India. The rise of online shopping also contributed to more commonplace camera sales, aided with the lower cost of cameras and camera equipment.
At the launch of its 196th Image Square store in India, Canon, the global imaging giant, gave crucial insights on the imaging industry in India. Canon’s offline store focuses on letting the user experience a camera in person, consult Canon’s executives and make the best choice as per specific needs. This gives crucial advantages over online marketplaces, and Canon acknowledges how Indian camera buyers are now more advanced as per specific needs and knowledge of photography. It is this that makes Canon’s Image Square stores important to the company’s wide presence in multiple cities across India.
We spoke to Mr. Andrew Koh, Vice-President of Canon India’s Consumer Imaging and Information Centre, at Canon’s Image Square store launch in Noida, India. He spoke about the recent trends in the imaging industry, the evolution of camera buyers in India and the part Canon is playing in the journey. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:
Looking at the online and offline markets where camera and camera equipment is available, which makes the bigger impact in terms of sales?
For now, offline markets still have a bigger share, although online is catching up. We like to believe that we can have a good balance of both. Eventually, I believe that the market will reach a level where there’ll be some who’ll prefer buying online, but still some who prefer the retail experience.
What are the advantages that Canon’s dedicated physical stores provide to its buyers?
With the exclusive Canon Image Square stores, what we are trying to impart is provision for a complete user experience before buying, where you get to see the entire range of our products and try them personally along with different lenses and other accessories that are available. But even apart from the products, we also offer full photography experience, where you can get ideas from our experts,a range of tripods, backpacks as well as photo printing services.
Are camera servicing options available too in the Image Square stores?
No, but we have our own authorised service centres all across India. However, anyone purchasing a Canon product from the Image Square stores can come back any time if they face any issue regarding servicing of a product, and this will practically act as a direct line of contact to Canon.
If we talk about the balance of the cameras sold, ranging from the entry-segment digital cameras to the professional cameras like the Canon 1DX Mark II, which happen to be the most popular?
The entry-segment of DSLR cameras has seen a growth recently and remain the most popular, with a lot of first-time buyers entering the market. For instance, the Canon EOS 1300D is doing very well, and is aimed at first-time buyers. At the same, we have seen consistency in more professional cameras, as pro buyers are increasing and photographers are becoming more sophisticated. These buyers really know what they want, and are going for slightly higher level of cameras like the EOS 80D or even the EOS 5D Mark III. In India, when we launched the Canon 1DX Mark II, a lot of photographers placed an order for the camera without even trying it out or testing it in person, which shows how the camera users have evolved lately. Most camera buyers of today really know what they want.
How are mirrorless cameras performing in Indian market?
For now, it is still a very small market, although we do provide our users with an option to choose a Canon mirrorless camera with the EOS M3 and EOS M10. The provision is there, and we expect the segment to grow in future.
A lot of DSLRs and professional cameras nowadays come with peripheral features like touch input, WiFi, GPS and the likes. How big an impact do they have on the buying decision of camera users?
WiFi is indeed an attractive and convenient option, and that is why we are including it on our newer line of cameras like the EOS 1300D. We are constantly trying to evolve our product lineup to be in touch with the recent trends. Touchscreen is also very useful, and touch focus is a nifty addition to cameras. Seeing that you are so used to using touchscreen all the time with our smartphones, it is very easy to use and own. These, I think, add convenience to users before buying a camera.
Talking about touchscreen, smartphone cameras have been steadily improving, and are impacting the entry-segment compact digital camera market. What do you have to say about this?
Yes, I agree that smartphone photography has impacted the entry segment cameras, and I don’t think that you can deny it any longer. But, with that, what we have seen are users directly making a jump to DSLRs, instead of firstly choosing a digital camera and then progressing gradually. While smartphones do get you interested in photography, once you start using it, you realise the restrictions that such imaging has, which is increasing the number of people opting for a DSLR who get interested in photography and then wish to be more advanced.
Are there any specific lineup that Canon is thinking about to retain buyers for compact cameras?
We have been observing the trend, and buyers of compact cameras nowadays prefer high zoom. This is important and smartphones cannot do this as of now. So we are targeting at providing compact cameras with more advanced features, as you will find in Canon’s G series of compact cameras. They have more manual controls and better image sensors, hence being better cameras beyond smartphone photography.
How is the Canon G series performing in terms of sales in India?
In India it still remains a very niche market, but is doing well in more advanced international markets like Japan or USA. From a customer’s point of view in India, if I am paying Rs. 50,000 for a camera, I can easily get a DSLR in India now, so why opt for a compact camera? There are quite a few, but a very niche audience really goes for it.
What do you think are the key differences between the Indian camera buyers and the more advanced markets?
It will not be very fair to compare, but for perspective, in markets like Japan, every family usually has three or four cameras, and naturally, this leads to more sales of compact or mirrorless cameras. In India, a lot of families may not even have a dedicated camera and are on the verge of buying their first cameras. On the other end, there are professional photographers who know exactly which camera to buy. The markets internationally are more balanced, while India is still growing.
DSLRs are also widely used for video shooting. How have you seen Indian users use Canon’s cameras for video purposes?
Our DSLRs are always advanced tools for photography purposes, which happen to have very good video shooting capabilities. If certain groups of users are interested in making the most of the cameras’ video capabilities, then we are more than happy.
Are there any specific cinema cameras that Canon provides in India?
We have the EOS 1DC range, the C300 Mk.II or C100 Mk.II, to cater to dedicated cinematographers.
To sum up, how big an impact do physical stores still have?
Physical stores still allow you to understand your product better, although online stores tend to offer better price. For those who already know what they want, the online stores remain a good choice. For everyone else, we are more than happy to assist with our offline outlets like the Canon Image Square stores.
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