Canon gets the right clicks

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | Updated: Jan 21 2013, 08:27am hrs
Bill Gates understood the potential of the personal computer before many others, just as Steve Jobs understood the potential of mobile computing, and those visions helped build their respective companies. Arguably nothing is more important to a company than the person in charge who understands both the market today and where it will be tomorrow. Alok Bharadwaj is widely credited for building the Canon brand in the country. In recent months, the India executive vice-president of the $45.6 billion Japanese camera and printer maker has created a definite amount of buzz in the marketplace with new product launches, attractive pricing and retail expansion, enabling Canon India to grow by 21% and achieve Rs 1,850 crore in revenue in 2012.

India is one of the most crucial markets in the Asia Pacific region for Canon, says Alok. Our growth in India is impressive, yet we want to set more ambitious targets. A common face in many industry forums, Alok is a practical man with his ear to the ground and is abreast of ground realities. The economic downturn impacted our growth to some extent. But the growth in India is better than other countries. About 50% of the companys revenues in 2012 came from cameras, 20% from printers, 25% from copier and document management services and 5% from professional printing products business. Last year, we had announced that by 2015, our India sales would touch $1 billion; we have revised that target and plan to reach that figure by 2016, he predicts.

Alok surely knows the tricks and tools of the Indian camera and printer industry. He has been instrumental in driving the companys strong performance in India, which has been achieved on the basis of its marketing initiatives where it has expanded its retail presence substantially across the country. Last week, Canon India introduced a new series of printers for in-studio photo printing, designed to meet the requirements of photographers with no compromise on productivity and high colour accuracy printing.

India has over 10,000 professional photographers and half of them are Canon users. Over several years, we have been addressing their strong needs for photo capturing equipments and accessories in the Indian market. With our domain expertise, we have witnessed a strong requirement for ultra high quality fine art prints and the rise of new domain called in-studio printing. We are delighted to enter into this domain which is estimated to be over R50 crore in size by 2013. We would target 50% of this in the year 2013, the Canon India executive VP says.

He further adds: Every specialised input for master craftsmen in photography has been incorporated in these printers to produce output exactly as the photographer imagined it to be. The Pixma Pro-series is indeed a quantum leap in professional in-studio printing in India. Canons product portfolio extends over a vast variety of copier multifunction devices, fax machines, printers, scanners, all-in-ones, digital cameras, camcorders and multimedia projectors, cable ID printers, semiconductors and card printers.

Canon has been operational in India since 1997. Canon India achieved revenue of R1,525 crore in 2011. Revenues in 2010 were R1,260 crore. In the first 10 years, Canon grew at a compounded annual growth rate of about 18% per annum and in the years before this economic downturn, the company touched an annual growth rate of over 30%.

According to Alok, 2012 has been most difficult year for digital camera industry. Industry growth has generally been flat. However, Canon has maintained a high rate of growth in India. Our effort is to reconfigure the photography business in India with youth-centric propositions using a three-pronged strategy of celebrity endorsement, imaging brand stores expansion and faster product portfolio churn with strong range. We introduced 25 new products in 2012 and now offer 36 models to take the consumer experience with Canon to the next level. With 93 brand stores in 45 towns, we are attempting to make experience as a big differentiator.

Although there is continuing business uncertainty, there is no doubt that the India market is one that Canon has high hopes for in the future. The high potential of the domestic market is driven by an emerging middle class and rising disposable incomes are fueling demand for quality digital products. We plan to consolidate our market leadership here with the introduction of innovative products and services, he summarises.