Something So Big You Can't Ignore It = Retail Leverage (aka Nikon Punk'd The Competition & Gained Retail Leverage)

By Ben Smith

Ashton i'm so cool

Who got Punk’d?  Apparently the entire digital camera industry.

For over a decade now, Sony and Canon have been the dominant players – and in turn, the two “must-haves” for any retail buyer’s camera assortment.

Left to fight over the remaining 50-60% of the market has been a boatload of players, although second tier of usual suspects has typically included Nikon, Kodak, Fuji, Olympus and most recently, Samsung.  Others such as Casio, Panasonic and HP have added to the competition on occasion.  This pool of players has served to round out retailer’s assortments and to provide buyers brands they can price promote as well as keep Sony and Canon honest.

ENTER NIKON

Sure, Nikon’s always been a player.  They’ve typically been in the Top 5 in the market since digital cameras went mainstream.  Plus there is no denying that the market is moving towards them as they are strong in DSLR’s.  Once Nikon unleashed this (below) it changed the game in the digital camera market:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RN8El63N6Mo&hl=en&fs=1&]

TRY SOMETHING BIG TO GAIN RETAIL LEVERAGE

One of our strategies to gain Retail Leverage is to create something so big they (retailers) can’t ignore it.  Customers come in asking for it.  The store associates ask their managers why they don’t have it – or don’t have more of it.  The buyer’s boss wants to know why the buyer didn’t have the right amount of it on the planogram and in the warehouse.

IT CLICKED FOR NIKON

Nikon is a great and current example of a brand that has gained significant Retail Leverage in the last couple of years thanks to their media campaigns featuring the ever popular Ashton Kutcher.  I have nightmares of that guy dancing through my head.  Nikon gained retail leverage with something so big, it couldn’t be ignored.  Couldn’t be ignored by consumers.  Most definitely couldn’t be ignored by retailers.  And unfortunately for the marketing and sales folks at Sony, Canon, Kodak, Fuji, Olympus and Samsung – it probably wasn’t ignored by the boss.

Go walk the camera bar at leading retailers today and you’ll find Nikon has ascended to similar level of presence to Sony and Canon.  They have left the field behind.  They are an essential part of the assortment now – and as DSLR’s importance grows their position only strengthens.  It just got that much tougher for Kodak, Fuji, Olympus and Samsung.

TAKEAWAYS

If you don’t have Nikon’s advertising budget, don’t be disheartened.  Something big that can’t be ignored is all relative to the market you play in, and the audience you are targeting.  Your audience could be as small as your buyer and their boss.   How do you think all those billboards get sold in Bentonville, or along 494 in Minneapolis?  Or it could be brand aspirational shoppers at mass merchants – well that might require a little more that a billboard.

The net is that you want whatever you to do feel bigger than it really is.

We suggest starting in-store and working backward.  For instance, consider the retailer’s own marketing assets.  Charity starts at home and supporting your retailers key initiatives and pay for play vehicles can provide disproportionate impact – on consumer sales and your buyers perceptions.  Understand what it takes to leverage the retailers assets and you can gain leverage at the closest point to the sale.

i sell camerasNow Nikon chose a different route, betting on the come that winning at home (outside of the store) would ensure victory in the aisles.  Thanks to our friend Ashton, their strategy is working.  Probably the most expensive route, but again it is all about scale in a large consumer electronics category that hasn’t peaked just yet.

Somewhere in between these two extremes there are opportunities.  When you are planning your “something so big it can’t be ignored” just ask yourself how you’d feel if your competitor used that same strategy.  You’ll know you have the right one when you find yourself getting nervous at the prospect of their success.

Note – since this article hits close to home as a Kodak employee I have intentionally avoided specific market data or information that a casual observer or google search couldn’t turn up.   The goal here was to illustrate the “something so big it can’t be ignored” concept and Nikon is a current example that is likely to resonate with our audience.  We’ll be sure to provide other examples as we see them across retail.

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