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Major camera makers are eyeing chain drug shopper.

Major camera makers are eyeing chain drug shopper

CDR Roundup--Product introductions and marketing programs unveiled by leading camera manufacturers represent a tacit acknowledgment of the the importance of chain drug stores and other mass market retailers to their current and future business. The strongest illustration of that is the decisin by Eastman Kodak Co. to introduce a line of low-price 35mm amateur cameras targeted specifically to the mass market. The move is a reversal of the company's previous marketing strategy, which targeted upscale consumers. Set to debut in October, Kodak's Star line will feature five models with suggested retail prices ranging from about $45 to $100.

While drug chains are expected to be an important trade channel for the line, the most expensive model (the Star 935) will not be available to chain drug retailers, at least not initially. Kodak has struck a deal with K mart Corp., giving the big discount store chain exclusive rights to that model, at least through the fourth quarter.

"We think Star will be a very important line for chain drug retailers," says a Kodak spokesman. "It appeals to a broad audience of users, and the target market should have a strong overlap with the typical chain drug consumer profile.

"Star's low price points represent an opportunity to upgrade users of old, non-35mm cameras to the 35mm format. That is important for chain drug stores, because 35mm photographers tend to shoot more film than users of other types of cameras, and film and processing sales are important elements in the chain drug merchandise mix."

Fuji Photo Film USA Inc. takes a similar approach in its camera marketing efforts. It offers a full line of compact 35mm cameras at price points ranging from $45 for the FZ-5 up to $500 for the Discovery 200 Zoom model.

Most chain drug retailers focus on the four Fuji models with price points under $100. Besides the FZ-5 (a focus-free model with built-in flash), these include the DL-15, the FZ-6 Tele and the DL-7.

The DL-15 features a built-in flash, autowind, autorewind and automatic DX settings from ISO 100 to ISO 400; its suggested retail price is $85. The FZ-6 is a dual-lens camera with a telephoto mode, built-in flash, variable magnification view-finder and a suggested retail of $70. The DL-7 is designed for the novice 35mm user and carries a suggested retail price of about $50.

"Fuji is dedicated to offering picture-takers a versatile and extensive line of compact cameras," says Manny Almeida, optical product manager of Fuji's photographic products division. "The quality and simplicity of Fuji cameras have attracted consumers to 35mm photography, and these enthusiastic new photographers are taking more pictures than ever before."

Role is growing

The camera marketing strategies of both Kodak and Fuji take into account the important role the companies' products can play in the overall chain drug merchandising strategy for the photography category. While chain drug camera sales are small compared with film and processing sales, they nevertheless represent an important and growing element of the trade class' overall photography mix.

In fact, although cameras accounted for just 12.6% of chain drug photography sales last year, the $193.8 million in revenues the segment generated was up 9.7% over 1988. Processing, which accounted for $530.6 million (34.5%) of 1989 chain drug photography sales, was up 8.9%; film, $667.5 million (43.4%), was up 7.9%.

"The importance of cameras in the chain drug photography mix goes well beyond the sales dollars they generate," says one chain drug merchandiser.

"It sets a tone for the whole department. If consumers see a good selection of the types of cameras they like to use, they are more likely to view a store as a one-stop source for all of their photography needs. That translates into increased sales of film and processing."

A number of other 35mm camera manufacturers have introduced compact products this year.

Konica Corp. has debuted a 35mm compact with a shutter that can be set to activate in response to varying levels of sound. It also sports a mode in which the camera swivels on its tripod and fires randomly.

Targets travel market

Ricoh Corp. has launched the L-20, point-and-shoot model for first-time 35mm users. The compact camera, which weighs 8 ounces, is targeted to the travel market.

Canon Inc. has unveiled an updated version of its popular Sure Shot compact 35mm. The new Sure Shot is a bifocal model with automatic features that include flash, load, advance and rewind. A Sure Shot Date model tells the time in 24 different cities and has a built-in alarm clock.

In a move that analysts expect to boost consumption of instant film, Polaroid Corp. has entered into an arrangement with Minolta Corp., whereby Minolta will market an advance instant camera made by Polaroid but sold in the U.S. under the Minolta brand. The move could be "a first step to explore a potential long-term collaboration between our two companies," says Polaroid president I. MacAllister Booth.

"The move makes sense for both companies," says Jack Kelly, vice president of Goldman Sachs & Co. "Polaroid taps Minolta's brand equity and marketing capabilities and generates increased usage of its instant film--its primary profit center. Minolta gets increased presence in the U.S. and representation in a new product segment with no research and development costs or legal threats."

The joint venture's camera, the Minolta Instant Pro, uses Polaroid Spectra film and features an innovative computer-style liquid crystal display control panel and a special closeup lens.
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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Sep 24, 1990
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