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Old Jul 30, 2012, 9:35 PM   #1
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Hello everybody,
My name is Clint, and I am an MBA grad student with Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu. I am currently working on a marketing analysis assignment and have been looking for information concerning the global DSLR and recreational camera markets, specifically Pentax. I was discussing the assignment with my Dad, Paul or Trojansoc on here. (By the way if you have been following his work on here, the beautiful granddaughter pics are of Ari, my daughter) Anyway, he suggested that there is a wealth of knowledge on the subject right here.
The main focus of my study is going to be the strengths of the Pentax brand and how they target their customers. I am using two, maybe three target audiences: the recreational user and the professional/semi-professional. I realize there is an in-between level, and I would like to touch on that as well. Basically, my questions to you, the Pentax-lover, are:
- In a market that is dominated by the heavy hitters of Canon and Nikon, what characteristics of the Pentax brand are appealing to you the consumer (price, features, durability, etc)?

- In what method is the purchase and delivery of the good right for you (internet, professional camera shop, etc)

- What keeps bringing you back to the Pentax brand for repeat business?

- If there was one word to describe the rationale behind a Pentax purchase, what would it be (price, quality, etc)?

Keep in mind that I am assuming that the target audience that will see this is most likely in the professional to semi-pro markets, but if you have any insight on the recreational aspect as well, that would be great. Also, I am my father’s son, so I can keep up with the technical lingo to a point, but I do have my limitations. Anything that is above my head, I’m sure Dad can help me with.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give me. I really do appreciate the time.

Aloha

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Old Jul 30, 2012, 10:05 PM   #2
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Just a follow-up to Clint's introduction of himself. He's a former Naval Airedale of whom I'm kind of proud since he took full advantage of the GI Bill and used it to accomplish the bachelor's degree that eluded him out of high school, and now he's embarked on an MBA program. Plus, he and his wife were nice enough to present us with an exceptionally beautiful grandchild. Any help you can give him, I would appreciate it.

Paul
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Old Jul 30, 2012, 10:14 PM   #3
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Welcome! An interesting project, one with quite a bit of controversy. There are those who think that Pentax is out to lunch when it comes to marketing, and its certainly changed since being bought out by Hoya and then sold to Ricoh.

As far as my personal point of view - I'm no pro, not even a semi-pro (though several of my photos have been published in a history book, long story how that happened). I consider myself a photo hobbyist/amateur and my stuff is inconsistent enough to back that up.

I started off with Pentax because of price and ergonomics. Price because while the original camera I bought (a DS) wasn't particularly cheaper than its competitors, I had a bunch of old lenses from film days so I didn't have to buy everything I knew I would want right away. And I really liked the camera itself, it fit my hands well and I liked the viewfinder more than the others.

I've stayed with the brand because of features (weather sealing) at a more reasonable price (though that's not as true now as it was a few years ago). The ergonomics have continued to be excellent for me.

I've now got too much invested in new lenses to switch - it would cost me way too much to change brands. But since I have no desire to move up to a full frame camera (too heavy and except for possibly the D800, too large), and I can't see any particular gains I would get from moving to another manufacturer, I stay with what I have. Besides, I still get the weather sealing I really depend on at a slightly lower price than I would with other brands. It works for me, I'm comfortable with what I have.
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Old Jul 30, 2012, 11:13 PM   #4
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Pentax needs some help, especially in the area of Marketing and Sales. Hopefully, you will create a compelling case study that can make a difference!!!

I have had a Pentax Spotmatic for 40+ years. I will use Harriet's description of "
hobbyist/amateur and my stuff is inconsistent enough to back that up". My stuff makes Harriet look like a real professional.

-
In a market that is dominated by the heavy hitters of Canon and Nikon, what characteristics of the Pentax brand are appealing to you the consumer (price, features, durability, etc)? When I purchased my first Pentax dSLR (K100), Pentax offered a reasonably low price with a relatively high feature content. Almost 4 years later, I upgraded at the end of the K20 product cycle, due to the excellent price / feature combination. 6 months ago, I again upgraded to the K5 due to the excellent price / feature combination, again near the end of the current product cycle. They offered the best dynamic range sensor and since I shoot ambient low light images, that makes a big difference to me. I stay with Pentax due to the quality of the primes and the availability of the old glass lenses. The bodies offer better feature sets than the equivalent Canon / Nikon bodies. The features that Pentax does poorly - Auto Focus, flash, etc. do not bother me (mostly) since in landscape / cityscapes they are not essential capabilities (manual focusing). Weather sealing is nice, however that has not been an overriding concern of mine. In body image stabilization is a capability that I do use, especially on wide angle lenses. Canon and Nikon do not offer image stabilized wide angle lenses - even though they each have a much larger lens selection. If you count Pentax's lenses along with Canon and Nikon, C &N will each have a larger absolute lens count. However, if you just count their image stabilized lenses, they each essentially equal the Pentax lens count. C & N each have more specialty lenses (tilt/shift, macro, teleconverters, etc.) along with long telephoto, however this does not meet my main needs either, thus is not a large factor. I do like the Pentax 2 year extended warranty for $20.

- In what method is the purchase and delivery of the good right for you (internet, professional camera shop, etc) Ok, I am cheap and price sensitive. I look for a deal. I am also always late (by design) in the product cycle. However, by the time I buy, the design bugs have been worked out. I purchase via the internet. This does present a problem for new folks to Pentax. They are unable to handle the camera first prior to purchasing, and I can see that is very important in their decision. That is a very large deterrent to new comers. C & N essentially captures the new folks to the dSLRs market and Pentax is denying themselves converts and a share of the new customers. The new folks who are actually coming to Pentax are willing to try something different and take some level of risk. It is nice that Amazon will essentially take anything back as a return. That should help Pentax out - something of a try before you buy.

- What keeps bringing you back to the Pentax brand for repeat business? I bought into Pentax due to the in body image stabilization, along the Pentax lens quality (the old lenses). For me Pentax is just as good as the other brands, and in a number of ways better. I have my lenses and to some degree I am locked in. But I am not stupid enough to assume switching to another brand will instantly make me an Ansel Adams. So, I knew that I was buying into a System in 2005/6 and with a decision to just stay and enjoy photography. The equipment is just a tool. I am not chasing the next greatest feature and no not feel I need the absolute newest technology. If I were a professional photographer putting a roof over my head and food on the table, I may feel different. However, the vast majority of us are just shooting for ourselves.

- If there was one word to describe the rationale behind a Pentax purchase, what would it be (price, quality, etc)? Price and specific features for the type of photography I do. I do also like the size, weight and ergonomics that Pentax designs.


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Old Jul 30, 2012, 11:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
I started off with Pentax because of price and ergonomics. Price because while the original camera I bought (a DS) wasn't particularly cheaper than its competitors, I had a bunch of old lenses from film days so I didn't have to buy everything I knew I would want right away. And I really liked the camera itself, it fit my hands well and I liked the viewfinder more than the others.

Ok that's a very interesting point. Pentax offers the compatibility to pre-digital equipment. Now this may not be useful to someone who has entered the market at the film to digital shift, but to those that were already in the hobby/profession, this would make a big difference. To your knowledge, does the competitors in Canon and Nikon offer this same feature?

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Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
I've now got too much invested in new lenses to switch - it would cost me way too much to change brands. But since I have no desire to move up to a full frame camera (too heavy and except for possibly the D800, too large), and I can't see any particular gains I would get from moving to another manufacturer, I stay with what I have. Besides, I still get the weather sealing I really depend on at a slightly lower price than I would with other brands. It works for me, I'm comfortable with what I have.
Ok, just a follow up question to this, if Pentax's main competition offered the equivalent weather sealing at a equal to lower price, would you consider switching? Or has the familiarity (or connection) to the brand made you loyal enough to stick with it the brand regardless of the money you would hypothetically save?

Again thank you so much for the time, this helps a bunch.
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Old Jul 30, 2012, 11:57 PM   #6
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When I purchased my first Pentax dSLR (K100), Pentax offered a reasonably low price with a relatively high feature content.
Wow, a lot of good information here. Thinking back to when you got into the dSLR market, what was your main selling point? Was it the price or features? I understand that it may have been a combination of both, but if you were to compromise on one, which do you think?

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Originally Posted by interested_observer View Post
This does present a problem for new folks to Pentax. They are unable to handle the camera first prior to purchasing, and I can see that is very important in their decision. That is a very large deterrent to new comers. C & N essentially captures the new folks to the dSLRs market and Pentax is denying themselves converts and a share of the new customers.
You're making my job too easy here . I am starting to research the availability of Pentax brands at major retailers like Best Buy and Sears. You think they are underrepresented in this respect? I agree that first time camera buyers (at this level at least) would want to physically hold the product and discuss with an actual salesperson before purchasing.

Thank you really good stuff here!
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 12:39 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Trojan_Clint View Post
The main focus of my study is going to be the strengths of the Pentax brand and how they target their customers. I am using two, maybe three target audiences: the recreational user and the professional/semi-professional. I realize there is an in-between level, and I would like to touch on that as well.

I'm strictly an amateur. However back in the late '60's I worked as an editorial assistant for a publishing company and was required to take publishable photo's for company magazines. I was given the choice of either Nikon or Pentax...I went with Pentax. That was in 1968. and that was the start of my involvement with photography and the Pentax brand. I purchased a Pentax S1a and a hand held Sekonic light meter...both of which I still have and they both work.

Basically, my questions to you, the Pentax-lover, are:

- In a market that is dominated by the heavy hitters of Canon and Nikon, what characteristics of the Pentax brand are appealing to you the consumer (price, features, durability, etc)?

Price, durability are very important. Also Pentax promotes the DSLR bodies (K-5) as outdoor equipment. I live in Canada and use my equipment regularly outdoors...all four seasons. Winter can be a trial up here and I have found my K10D, K-m and K-5 more than up to the task . I do a lot of winter hiking in forested areas. The Pentax equipment has not let me down yet. I also like the features...the in camera shake reduction, the in camera digital filters
and the very rugged build and effective weather sealing of my K10D and K-5.

- In what method is the purchase and delivery of the good right for you (internet, professional camera shop, etc)

I bought all my Pentax equipment from local specialist camera stores. In my mid sized city we have about 8-9 specialist camera stores.

All of them carry Pentax equipment and I have been able to get most of my equipment...from the store's in stock...there have been about 4 lenses that we're shipped in...within 1-2 weeks. I understand that this may not be the situation in the states...but I don't know for sure. My American colleagues would be able to confirm .

I prefer to buy local if I can. I like to support local business and also it's handy to have a dealer down the street if one encounters any problems.


- What keeps bringing you back to the Pentax brand for repeat business?

Reliability, durability, performance, build quality and the end result photo quality. I have been a photographer for more than 40 years and also have medium format Mamiya, rangefinder Leica, Canon, Zeiss-Ikon medium format, Panasonic and Olympus.

But in all these years Pentax has been my main photographic tool.


- If there was one word to describe the rationale behind a Pentax purchase, what would it be (price, quality, etc)?

I've been happy with the brand over a long extended time.

On two occasions I thought about going to other brands.

In 1975...I almost went Nikon and came close to purchasing a Nikon F Photomic. But I tried the new Pentax ES 11 and in the end preferred that camera.

In 2006/07 I was deciding on what to do Digital wise. It was a time I could start new...or stay with Pentax. I compared the Canon 30D, the Nikon D200 and was seriously thinking about the Nikon D200. I didn't see any Pentax digitals that appealed to me. But then the Pentax K10D came on the scene...I was very impressed with it's specs, outdoor weather sealing, rugged build and I went with Pentax. I have thought about my choice on and off over the years, mostly about wondering if I should go to full frame...particularly the Canon 5D Mk. 11.

But since I've got the K-5 I've been convinced that I made the correct decision.
I have around 9 Pentax digital lenses and with the K-5 and particularly the Pentax 12-24, 10-17 fish eye, 70 Limited and yes...my good old consumer level 55-300....I am more than pleased with the capability of this equipment.

I find that at this level, whether a photographer is using Canon, Nikon, Sony or Pentax equipment...the main deciding factor is the ability of the photographer. Pentax isn't perfect however...they need to bring out more lenses...specifically telephotos...prime and zoom... in the 400mm and up range
.

I have strong optimism about the potential success of Pentax DSLR's...given the new Pentax-Ricoh partnership.

Keep in mind that I am assuming that the target audience that will see this is most likely in the professional to semi-pro markets, but if you have any insight on the recreational aspect as well, that would be great. Also, I am my fatherís son, so I can keep up with the technical lingo to a point, but I do have my limitations. Anything that is above my head, Iím sure Dad can help me with.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give me. I really do appreciate the time.

Aloha
Thank you for contacting this forum. I wish you the best in your academic pursuits and possibly something to consider is to provide Pentax-Ricoh with your findings.

Hopefully you will be able to share your findings with this forum. I think we would find it of great interest.

Les
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 12:59 AM   #8
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Interested Observer indicated:

"C & N essentially captures the new folks to the dSLRs market and Pentax is denying themselves converts and a share of the new customers. The new folks who are actually coming to Pentax are willing to try something different and take some level of risk. It is nice that Amazon will essentially take anything back as a return. That should help Pentax out - something of a try before you buy."

I agree.

I have spoken to many Canadian camera store staff and one thing many of them say...is that Pentax has excellent equipment. But new customers come into the stores asking for a particular Canon or Nikon DSLR camera...because they have seen advertisements...TV, print, flyers, magazines, etc....from N+C.

Some clerks try to get them to consider Pentax...but many consumers just want to buy the camera they have seen advertised...no matter what.

Advertising is expensive...but if done well can be very effective.

My concern is that many of the Pentax customers are oldies (but goldies ) like myself and to be frank...Pentax needs to sell to the younger market just getting into DSLR photography.

It's like the car thing...you got to get the youth market ...the potential to sell many cameras over the lifetime of young new customers is much better for the long term survival of any company....then selling for the most part to older customers like me.

I'm in my 60's....how much more camera equipment am I going to be in the market for...in fact how long am I going to be in the market...or any market... at my advanced age.

My daughter and son are in their 20's....that's where potential long term business is to be found.

Les



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Old Jul 31, 2012, 7:16 AM   #9
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My first decent camera was a Ricoh Singlex. I happened to get a Pentax normal lens for it, and was impressed how much better it was. That lead to a Spotmatic, then a Spotmatic F. Later, I used Nikons and Nikkormats.

But when it came time to buy a DSLR, I had a choice of Nikon or Pentax and the feature set on the Pentax was better, dollar for dollar, then the Nikons. And so it went.
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 8:37 AM   #10
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Wow, a lot of good information here. Thinking back to when you got into the dSLR market, what was your main selling point? Was it the price or features? I understand that it may have been a combination of both, but if you were to compromise on one, which do you think?
Actually I posted here up in the "What camera should I get section". We had gone on a vacation to Alaska - the Inland passage cruise and I had gotten a Canon SD500. Nice little point and shoot. We went whale watching and I was just able to get one shot of the whale breaching in front of a glacier. There were 2 borthers shooting for National Geographic, that had 5 bodies, 20 lenses (their wifes were in charge of swapping the glass) and burned off 50,000 frames to my one. I had left my old film Spotmatic home, so upon returning I went camera shopping. I was thinking about Canon, with out doing any research at all - the power of marketing (selling soap). Mtnclimber (Shara) advised me that Pentax was backwards compatible with my old lens, and that it also had in body stabilization such that any lens mounted would be stabilized. Went to the camera store and held P, N and C along with O. Went home and put the order in for the Pentax (the price difference on the 2 lens kit was about $150 - enough to go to the internet). I knew that my lens choices would be somewhat limited, but it really didn't matter since I did not believe I would become a professional and would need $6,000 lens for something.

To answer your question directly - price closely followed by functionality - in body stabilization, followed by the ergonomics. The combination of the three. If the price was the same, it would have still been Pentax since I was sold on in body stabilization as a way to hold down the price of the lenses. C and N's lens prices for their stabilized versions are substantially higher. So even if Price is not directly the main factor, it is a significant factor through out the decision.


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You're making my job too easy here . I am starting to research the availability of Pentax brands at major retailers like Best Buy and Sears. You think they are underrepresented in this respect? I agree that first time camera buyers (at this level at least) would want to physically hold the product and discuss with an actual salesperson before purchasing.

Thank you really good stuff here!
Right now at this moment, you can see Pentax physically at B&H, Adorama and Abes of Maine in NYC. Samy's in LA. Fry's Electronics use to carry them. Walmart carries them mail order. There are a couple of additional retail stores that are sprinkled across the country. That's it folks. Pretty pitfull. However I do understand. It has been said that to carry Pentax you need to order $100K worth of stock at a wack. Pretty steep for a Mom and Pop retail camera store that is already under pressure since the business model - brick and mortar is very much going the route of the buggy whip.

Earlier this year Pentax raised their prices - I forget what they called the selling model, such that ALL sellers had to sell at the same price (in order to be able to order more product) - and they got to keep the additional funds. They did this in order to level the playing field. Some of the lens prices doubled. It was a disaster. They changed back to somewhat their previous model. Pentax marketing is unable to punch their way out of a wet paper bag. When the K7 was introduced their slick data sheet that came out was riddled with errors. Gee - at least get the data sheet reviewed and correct by the launch date.

On another Pentax Forum site, here (going backwards) is the price increase news that was a disaster (including the Pentax USA CEO's announcement and explanation).

... and here is the running commentary on the price increase from the users - bottom line, folks stopped buying - it had the opposite affect than originally intended. Ned did it to get Pentax into Target - it appears that it was only a single model for only a short time - mail order. Fire, Ready Aim.....


Much to Pentax's credit, they have adopted the tag line "Be Different". That effectively describes their customers. However, they need to have an effective and cohesive marketing campaign. They can not match dollar for dollar, so they need to be consistent across time in delivering their message. They also need to find a way to use the new social media to promote themselves. They get started a bit - somewhat effectively, and then spudder out, before they get traction. Not good. Their marketing has an attention span of an alzheimer's patient.

Product wise, they have a clear WR - Weather Resistant capability integrated through out their line of equipment. They have done this to a much greater extent than the others, at a much lower price. Do you think that they would really advertise this. To a point, here and there, but nothing consistent and long lasting - nor effective. Do you think that they would put their two main marketing threads together and make them mutually supportive - well not yet. I don't think that they have though of it yet....


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