New Nikon announcement

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
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New Nikon announcement
6 months ago

Now that I have your attention.

Let me first state I am a long time Nikon shooter for nearly 30 years so I am not bashing Nikon but merely lending my view of the CE business for which I have spent most of my career in.

1. Nikon rumors, speculation, pre release guesses are all for the most part a piece of a highly crafted marketing plan to drive social media interaction and capture consumer sentiment on the brand, its direction, and to build a case for retailer meetings with their sales teams.

How is this possible?

Look at the timelines to deliver a product to market (if you have manufacturing experience you know this already). From concept to delivery there are some very specific milestones that must be reached to keep pace with the market. Concept stage moves quickly with wireframe markups of product design that is in line with brand image, history, or overall form/function beliefs. Next comes the certification process of the technologies required to bring the product to life and selection of the numerous vendors it takes to pull it together. Bidding and RFP process begins and agreements crafted to those vendors selected for the project. Marketing begins to craft the story around the product and all materials for promotional activities are approved. Product engineering samples are evaluated (this eval can take many forms). Then there are the sales meetings to build sales forecasts to determine how many should be built, likelihood of being able to support the estimated volume, and budgets assigned to maximize sales, margin, and consumer stickiness. First run production begins and sampling is tested for issues. Samples are shown to dealers and sales estimates, dealer programs, and marketing are discussed and agreed upon deliverables are inked with dates of execution attached. Brand promotions begin production to meet product announcement timelines and retailer needs (happens much faster in the digital world vs. print materials). Products are on the water and should arrive 30 days from ship date and give it another 2 weeks for customs and delivery to retailer/distributors. Product is announced by brand in line with either a trade event, retailer reset schedule, or a strategically chosen time to beat the competition to market if there is a "category first mover status" opportunity. Product arrives and sales are transacted.

2. So are the rumors true?

I would say 90% of them are true even months out. With Non disclosure Agreements signed this is the chosen approach to "leak" information to drive and gauge consumer interest. More important is also identifies potential software updates that might add features in the next revision.

Keep in mind the timeline in section 1. Large retailers typically have 90-120 day head start on product information so they can craft their assortments. Smaller retailers that do significant volume are normally 60 days out. This is all under NDA.

3. Pitting one brand against another

Typical thought for every brand is to gauge itself against a competitor set (current line and predicted line). Through the process brands can identify holes, that if technology permits can provide that one or two features that can give them a leg up. Then those areas are evaluated against market perception as to how; well the function needs to work, if it is needed at all, frequency of use, and financial resources to bring it to market. Fan boy fights and tough talk do play a role, just not as influential as one might think.

4. The real product shortfalls are created by

It is not just Nikon or the brand that has choices to make. As much as they would love to bring a technology to market there may be situations where the technology parts to do it may not be fully baked by the time they need to release a product. Thus we see the ladder effect where one year one brand is on top and the next year its someone else. Other times issues come from giving the retail buyers input a little too much value and sacrificing the brand in the search of higher sales.

I have seen this with many brands where they chase the nut, only to have the squirrel pick it up and place it further down the road. This leads to poorly executed products with sales forecasts that are not reasonable nor achievable. For the brand it could spell disaster.

5. So is Nikon just behind because they can't innovate?

Maybe, but it is more likely that they have been chasing big numbers and attempting to restructure the business. They may be looking at the business and realizing in some areas the industry has given the consumer too much, and at the upper end too little. They may not have a good understanding of what the Pro, semi-pro, and novice shooter in 2014 wants/needs and have been pushed into a product lineup that is less a result of Nikon being a leader in the space carving out its portion of the business based on innovation and technology leadership, and more based on it's competition and retail buyers insights pushing them down a destructive road.

Think about it...

Prices are scaling upwards each release. (margin grab or paying for promotions)

Product feature sets are growing closer together (trying to compete at every price tier)

Halo products are becoming less evident within the product lineup (nothing to draw consumers up)

Use cases are becoming more important to the product lineup which means there is no "does it all" product (trying to segment the market)

Brand noise is becoming stronger with every newly announced product (more focus on brand less on products)

No radically new platforms just evolutionary changes (lack of brand power to radically change the market for their products)

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