Why m4/3rds is declining in the US.

Started Apr 29, 2013 | Discussions thread
oklaphotog Senior Member • Posts: 1,093
Re: Availability.

Richard wrote:

This is a possibility, availability. I will look around at the 2 camera shops we have here in town and see if either sell them. If not then I would have to agree, lack of exposer and availability locally could be a reason. But then I would ask are they readily avail in other markets like Europe in stores on shelves.

Not many do. About the only camera stores that carry them is the very biggest shops in the biggest cities. I'd have to drive 4.5 hours to Dallas to see one in a store. Part of this is because it's hard for a small store to invest in a ton of inventory on a model that doesn't sell well. Keep in mind the store has 30 days (net 30) to pay for the cameras they buy from the manufacturer without getting charged interest. These stores often run on such thin margins that they need to turn around the inventory they order in 30 days and can't afford to sit on it. The really big stores with much more volume are a little different and have enough cushion to sit on the inventory a bit. A camera store only makes 10% on one of these cameras. But most likely the purchaser will use a CC/Debit card, and the processing fee is 2-3% which drops the profit to 7-8%. If they don't pay for it in 30 days and are charged 4% or so on their account from the manufacturer, then they've made 3% on the sale. When you look ay a camera that the store pays $900 for and sells it at $1000, bucks.... making $30 bucks on the camera isn't much. Then factor in the overhead of employee salaries, mortgage/lease payment for the building, utilities, insurance and more... It gets ugly. Think about how many sales you have to make with a gain of $30 to pay the bills. This is why accessories in brick and mortar stores cost so much more than online, because that is the only place they can make any money.

Europe has always been a different type of market than the US. All of the small camera companies have traditionally sold much more product there than the US. I don't know if it's because Europeans prefer some of the other brands more so than the US etc... But you'll see that the smaller companies do tend to spend more on advertising in Europe vs. the US. This is probably because they have limited advertising funds and have to spend it where they already have more established market. For instance Minolta always sold a ton more Dynax's in Europe compared to Maxxum's in the US. They were a very strong 3rd place in Europe but a rather low 3rd place in the US.

In the US they are going to have to re-enter the box stores who can purchase and sell these cameras in order to get any gain in market share. The small camera companies can advertise all they want, but if you still can't find one to look at it won't sell much. The smaller camera stores aren't going to invest in selling the m4/3 system unless they know they can sell them since they are already fighting to keep their door open. If they can get penetration into the box stores, then the masses will see them even with minimal advertising. Once they can get on the shelves in these stores then any advertising they do will help spur more sales once there is an established ability for people to demo the cameras. Once that happens, then the smaller photo stores will follow suit. Until then it will be a hard and long road for makers like Oly. This is exactly why Panasonic said they are trying to regain shelf space in big stores. Keep in mind the majority of the market are not geeks like us on DPR or other websites. We are the exception not the rule. They only know what they see in the store. They also want to have ability to layaway or finance in store for these items. They may see that nifty looking camera on the shelf and play with it every time they go to that big store for a month or two before they decide to pull the trigger on the purchase. If Oly and Panasonic could get a commitment from the likes of Walmart, Target, and Best Buy to sell their gear, and not just the lowest end model, it would do wonders for them here in the US. They also need to have reps at these stores on Saturdays showing off and demoing these products, no different than Canon, Nikon and Sony does. They don't even have to employ these folks as there are stand alone marketing companies that do this on a contract basis. For instance Sony uses a company called Marketstar for their field reps in the US. When you go into Best Buy and you see the Sony guy there in his Sony shirt, he doesn't work directly for Sony. Marketstar does this for HP and many other big companies too. Even many of the people at Sony's booth at CES are actually Marketstar employees, generally their top reps.

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