Update to Nikon Retail Leverage Example

By Ben Smith

Ashton centerI found some great material that supports our previous example of how Nikon gained Retail Leverage with “Something So Big It Can’t Be Ignored” (the Ashton Kutcher campaign).

Nikon’s agency, McCann Erickson, provided some great details in the form of their entry in the 2009 effie awards, for which they subsequently won silver.  Here is a link to the complete document – it is fascinating to me from an “inside baseball” perspective.


market share down

1) Nikon’s share in November 2007 (pre-Ashton) – an all time low of 5.5%.

2 This next piece, provide some of the “why” they went with the “Something So Big” strategy. I have to quote this word for word, because it sounds like it was written by the folks here at Retail Leverage:

i sell cameras“Nikon COOLPIX was competing against consumer electronic giants. The point and shoot category was cluttered with brands vying for consumers’ attention. Consumer electronics giants such as Sony, Panasonic, Canon and Samsung had vastly more money to invest in marketing and their retail clout gave them an advantage in-store. Critically, these brands were able to secure multiple facings at display by selling their cameras in as part of larger portfolios including flat screen TV’s, camcorders, DVD players, etc. Nikon, as a camera manufacturer only, did not have this advantage and struggled to get the facings they needed. In order to compete, Nikon needed a campaign that would break through the category clutter and motivate young prospects to go into the big box retailers seeking Nikon.”

We couldn’t have written it better ourselves.

market share up

3) Their goal was to reverse share erosion (shocking) and they had a target of almost doubling to a 10% share.

THEY HIT 14.6% BY AUGUST 2008.

4) Another word for word requote – my observation here is that I found it interesting that that they were surprised by the unexpected attention they got from retailers. If you’ve been on Retail Leverage for more than a minute or two you know that capturing the attention of the retailer and leveraging that is our primary motivation.

best buy logo“And beyond our objectives, we were able to unexpectedly capture the attention of retailers. Due to the campaign, Nikon was having phenomenal success with the big boxes. Retailers were impressed by the campaign and by Nikon’s increasing support of the COOLPIX brand. This resulted in Nikon receiving two additional posts in Best Buy, allowing them to increase the number of cameras on display and ultimately sell more cameras.”

For Nikon / McCann Erickson gaining Retail Leverage was seemingly an easter egg. That being said, I bet once they knew they had Retail Leverage, one of the primary stated purposes of additional waves of the Ashton campaign is to fan the flames at their retail partners. Once you’ve got Retail Leverage, you do everything you can to keep it.


updatedRLlogoIt is great to see from start to finish an example of an agency and a brand that “got it”.  I’m not sure who drove the strategy – did McCann Erickson convince the Nikon to go “all-in” with Ashton?  Or did Nikon charge them with building “Something So Big” from the start and McCann just hit a home run on the concept + creative?  Regardless, it was clear that Nikon was competing in a category with bigger brands with cross category reach and deeper pockets, so they were able to exploit a strategy where they focused their resources on one thing that enabled them to stand out from the crowd.  Brands all too often spread themselves to thin with a 360 degree focus on checking off all the marketing levers.   Nikon owned something – and now they own the 18-34 demograhic, additional posts on camera bars across retail, and the other guys are trying to figure out their next move.

Speaking of that next move – have you seen Samsung’s ads for their new line of cameras with a 2nd LCD on the front?  Looks like they are taking a page out of Nikon’s playbook.  Not sure if it will succeed in the same way, but this looks to be the first counter-offensive in a maturing category.

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