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12-29-2013, 11:15 PM   #31
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I think the problem is those who are serious about photography already have a brand they are at, and those who are yet to become serious are in the category that doesn't know anything and are caught by ads and fire sales. Not all of those in that category will of course become serious, but some do, and usually by that time they will have an entry level DSLR. Most likely it won't be a Pentax. Or those who buy their first DSLR, with the intention of becoming serious, will look at the upgrade path and determine that a Canon, Nikon or Sony makes more sense. And then finally there are the pro's willing to switch brand. Seems like they will be most likely to switch to Fuji, Panasonic or Olympus. Pentax is quite far behind it seems.

12-29-2013, 11:29 PM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
I think the OP didn't look hard enough for killer deals in Canada during the Xmas season. I picked up a Limited SMC lens for $ 150 off the regular asking price....a week or so before Xmas....in Canada.

Henry's, Don's....had some really good prices and some featured Pentax equipment.
First, in my original post I was referring to flyers for local retailers: Best Buy, Future Shop, Vistek, etc. I didn't browse for online deals, and my observations were based only what I was seeing in these flyers and as I walked about these local retailers. Also, I was talking about killer deals; I'm wondering how much $150 off that Pentax lens was percentage-wise? For some for the Canikon lenses I saw, they were hundreds of dollars cheaper and I would argue quite a good discount percentage-wise. That to me defines a "killer" deal, not just a "good" or "nice" one.

QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
Pentax was a relatively big player in the slr world back in the '60's and '70's.
Yes, I'm well aware of their dominance of several decades ago. How times have changed.
12-30-2013, 08:01 AM   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
I think they are focused on 5 to 10 years out. Which makes things look bad to those wanting to see results NOW.
Precisely. Before they can attempt to sell in large volume they must develop the manufacturing infrastructure to support the volume. We never see those steps. Before they can offer a better warranty they must install the manufacturing processes to control defects. We never see those processes. Before they can offer large dealer guarantees they need to allocate production capacity to fulfill (fail to deliver just once to Walmart/Costco/BestBuy/Target and you are out forever). Before they can offer low Dealer Agreement volume breakpoints or Dealer Credit arrangements they need to allocate capital to the credit function (take it from Ricoh, where the risks are known and costed and give it to Pentax, where nothing is yet known). Etc. It just takes time and determination. Those are Ricoh cultural attributes.

Nikon and Canon are in-place. Samsung and Sony can just throw it out there. Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji - are MUCH larger companies than you might think and can actually lose money in cameras literally forever if they want to - because it is name recognition in consumer products. FWIW, even Nikon is large outside of cameras (Nikon Precision Equipment), maybe larger than in.

As far as USA goes, never forget that here if we don't like something - for whatever reason - we can just send it back for a full and immediate refund. Imagine being a Japanese executive deciding where best to allocate, talent, time, effort and scarce capital. Would you do it in places where either personal pride or consumer regulations encoourage people to keep the things they buy, or would you do it where showrooming doesn't just mean looking at something in a store and buying it online - increasingly it means buying 5 different brands of dSLR online and sending back the four you didn't like.

As I ahve written elsewhere, Pentax needn't be CaNikon - they don't wanbt to be CaNikon. We already have them and they are quite good at what they do. They needn't be Sony or Oly, trying out new tecnologies in the market (Consumer Beta-testing, if you will) and dumping gobs of marketing money behind sketchy ideas. They need to be a solid, different camera company with different ideas, implementation and approaches to the problem of capturing superior images for the money. If they can avoid the expense of support infrastructure and some of the irrational marketing expense, they can offer different and better features at a price point.

Over time that could be their brand identity, along with the known characteristics. The key words in the entire long post are over time.
12-30-2013, 08:42 AM   #34
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I think with Ricoh backing, they can afford the time if Ricoh is willing to take the float for a while.

Still, it would be nice to see a Pentax Black Friday "special purchase" on big box retail shelves next year. Whatever entry level camera, 18-55mm, card, bag,etc at a price point $50 less than the Canikon starter boxes.

12-30-2013, 09:06 AM   #35
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QuoteOriginally posted by dansamy Quote
Both of you make good points regarding Pentax & potential market demographics. I'm a 38 year old mom. I bought my Pentax K-x in Dec 2009. I actually bought it sight unseen due to recommendations on Steve's Digicams and a LOT of extensive research. However, I tend to do a LOT of obsessive research before I purchase. By the time I pull the trigger, I'm 99.999% certain that I've made the right choice for me. However, many moms aren't completely insane. They'll go down to the local big box retailer & look at cameras. And Pentax isn't there on the shelf. Canon is there. Nikon, with Ashton Kutcher ads, is there. Sony, a freaking electronics manufacturer - not an optics maker, is there. Hell, even Samsung is there with Android TouchWiz camera/phones next to their phablets. Where's Pentax?
That's the US for you... go big or go home style. I see Pentax on Best Buy's web site... but not in stores. I agree - when you shop at the brick and mortar stores - Pentax has no presence - at least in the US.

California alone - has +30 million residents, and ~3 stores that 'claim' to carry Pentax - Samys (LA/SF), Frys and Target. Fry's 'might' have an old lens kicking around (50-200mm WR older model). Samys doesn't really stock anything, and is a camera store only. Target only carries the WG point and shoot. Funny thing is - I'll be in Maui in a week, and the island has < 150,000 people and has 2 stores that stock and sell Pentax.

A lot of this is brick & mortar box stores, the rest goes back to Hoya days with Pentax not supporting FF, and selling their gear online through places like Wal-Mart for less than camera stores could. Hooper Camera in the San Fernando Valley used to sell Pentax, but they told me that they were effectively screwed by Pentax effectively making wholesale deals where they couldn't match prices. In many areas and ways, Pentax really needs a physical presence if they want more sales - at least in the US.

Don't get me wrong - I don't think an SLR buyer's primary consideration is the colour of the camera - nor do I think that most people don't do some research before dropping +500 on a camera system. Canon/Nikon (and others) do try to sell people on the box bundles though (starter kits) to help expedite the entrance into their camera/lens system though.
12-30-2013, 10:00 AM   #36
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Just going to respond to some of the points made since my last post. For the most part, Kadajawi has it about right. Its a tough box, and it isn't clear how to break out of it. I often agree with what Monochrome says, but what he advises here is what Pentax is already doing - and it doesn't seem to be helping. I'm happy to see dansamy here - and the three women who were brought along by a learned Pentaxian. No doubt the multi-color thing has helped with women, but that was mostly a K-X phenomenon and it doesn't translate as well in its K-50 implementation (people don't want to wait for their designer color scheme). Yes, some element of attracting women is a possible strategy, but I don't see the "Virginia Slims" marketing - and it can backfire on tender male egos. In any event, the sample of four (dansamy and three other women) doesn't quite qualify as a mass trend.

Dansamy is thinking the wrong way here; the lowest Pentax has to be a better product than the bargain Can/ikon deals (and certainly is) and priced slightly higher and made to stand out; you can't compete with the scale of the top three players. This tends to make it impossible to go the big box route - at least in the U.S. However, there are specialty stores and oddball, higher end outlets - places like REI, Cabela's looking to expand into new areas. That would be an opportunity because they already handle binocular-type optics where Pentax has a solid reputation as a notch above Nikon among major brands.

One final thought about the various brands. Fuji has a lot more going for it beyond the sensor technology. They have incorporated traditional quality aspects that integrate with the modern element very well (unlike the Nikon and its Df), and they charge a premium price for attaining a higher style. Given the compact size of their higher quality offerings, they have effectively cut off a potential market route for Pentax. This relatively recent shift - more than anything - has me downgrading the prognosis for Pentax. Incremental improvements might not be enough for the brand.
12-30-2013, 10:09 AM   #37
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I think Fry's would probably be a perfect location for Ricoh to throw some serious pentax marketing at. They have relatively few B&M stores (~30 nationwide) but those stores have much more knowledgeable staff than other electronics stores and they have broader selection than BB.

They could probably afford to do in-depth training with the Fry's staff and a store like that might even be willing to let them do something truly creative like an in-store studio (like they do with home theater and speakers) where you can try different cameras in a studio environment that has different lighting settings to simulate daylight, interior lighting, club lighting, etc... Have eye-fi cards in the cameras and have merchandise control sensors on the cameras so that they can be moved around in the room without being attached to a huge metal peg with a wire so that you can then look at the pictures you just took on a real computer monitor.

This would create a truly unique center for learning about pentax cameras without biting off more than they can chew.
12-30-2013, 10:13 AM   #38
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Don't use me as a market representative of my demographic. I'm completely obsessive about product research. Most people aren't.

I ended up with a black k-x because it was on sale.

12-30-2013, 10:15 AM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
However, there are specialty stores and oddball, higher end outlets - places like REI, Cabela's looking to expand into new areas. That would be an opportunity because they already handle binocular-type optics where Pentax has a solid reputation as a notch above Nikon among major brands.
I mentioned that last spring and they are aware in Denver. The stronger tie-in is with rifle and spotting scopes (Sport Optics). The WG's are already cross-marketed there and do very well.
QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
Given the compact size of their higher quality offerings, they have effectively cut off a potential market route for Pentax. This relatively recent shift - more than anything - has me downgrading the prognosis for Pentax. Incremental improvements might not be enough for the brand.
Q seems to be doing better globally than many want to believe. We've only seen one month of K3 - product is sold out in many places and North America is absorbing excess stock from elsewhere to satisfy demand.

I am chagrinned that Thom Hogan and the CreditSuisse analyst in the NYT article seem not to be aware of the existence of Pentax. As if the maker of 5.9% of the ILC's sold through November doesn't count. As if 9.7% of the MILC market for Q just can't be right, so we're not going to report it. As if, "Didn't Pentax go out of business long ago? Well, some hedge fund probably bought the name and this stuff is cheap chinese exploit gear."

For every member here who grows increasing frustrated and pessimistic because results aren't seen immediately I grow more optimistic by reading equity investment research reports, industry research reports, global economy research reports - all I read is good things about Ricoh and positive discussion of Optical Products. Yes, Pentax knows it missed an opportunity in mirrorless - said so themselves. I don't think at the time they were capable of exploiting it anyway. There was just too much wrong inside. K-01 interestingly was ahead of the market and is a wonderful camera.

They probably won't spend a lot of money on traditional marketing for quite some time. They have a large booth and conference room in Central Hall at CES this time, not a broom closet down the hall friom the Men's Room. Their space is large enough to show and demo every product they have. Why would they have reserved a conference room in the name of RIAC if they didn't plan to do SOME kind of marketing / Deal-Making?

We'll know more in twelve months and we'll know for sure in three years, but I think they will surprise us.

The bodies are irrelevant. Follow the lenses to understand the strategy.

Last edited by monochrome; 12-30-2013 at 10:22 AM.
12-30-2013, 11:30 AM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
I'm looking lately at what the other, better niche players are doing. Olympus (for all its corporate pratfalls) and - especially - Fuji are showing the way and leaving Ricoh/Pentax in the dust. Sony developed the first viable mirrorless full frame, and that was another opportunity lost for Pentax.
Neither Fuji or Olympus are making money selling cameras (Olympus, in particular, has some rather serious problems that go well beyond "corporate pratfalls"). Sony's products meanwhile tend to be a bit half-baked, suffering from chronic mismatch of lens size with camera size, misplaced shutter buttons, poorly organized menus, etc. etc. As intriguing as some of the prosumer cameras of Fuji, Olympus and Panasonic might be, none of these companies are making as good a system camera as the K-5iis or the K-3. It's best not to be misled by the internet review sites, which are staffed largely by gearheads who drool over anything new and trendy. In the camera business, it's the best system camera that wins in the long run, not the latest gadget with the most exciting (but often poorly implemented) technology. Pentax has always been a photographer-centric, rather than gearhead-centric brand. They stress photographer values, such as the experience of using the camera (ergonomics and handling, common sense menus, etc.) and the aesethic qualities of lenses. It is with such values that, despite all their missteps over the years, they have built a small but very devoted customer base. Ricoh seems to be trying to build on these values, with the hope creating a brand identity out of them. Olympus, Sony, Fuji et al may be the trendy companies, but when the time is right and the whole mirrorless thing starts to make sense economically, Canon and Nikon will enter that market in a big way and they will crush the competition. These lesser companies will lose out because (1) they don't have the brand identity of Canon and Nikon, and (2) they aren't as well run, from the business side of things. From where I'm sitting, it looks to me that Ricoh is going to try to remedy these deficiencies by bringing stronger business values to Pentax and building up Pentax as a brand. You don't build up a brand by introducing trendy gadgets. You build up a brand by creating products associated with your core values, and you use marketing to create an association between those core values and the products they exemplify in the mind of the public.
12-30-2013, 01:32 PM   #41
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I do think Pentax can do a better job of selling it's fine product line. I don't think they need to challenge Canikon for supremacy! that would be potentially very destructive!! A solid 3rd with incremental growth would be big win!! Basing your profits on hordes of impulse buys from big box stores is great until an economic ripple leave you with warehouses full and no way to unload the surplus!! Make less, sell to photographers, and keep prices steady and competitive!

Now three ways to gain exposure:1 Sell cheap to colleges and schools so students will get to know the system.(an old Apple trick) 2 Make deals with x-teams, Olympic teams, sportsmen, any group that would show off the camera's build and weather resistance. 3 Make a deal with breast cancer awareness.(special pink K-3 or K-50) This should get the attention of at least 50% of the population!! Think about it, a battle ready K-3 in pink for the cause!!
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12-30-2013, 01:42 PM   #42
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Sony has a long history of Pro Broadcast gear, For people to think Sony is just "Trendy" or that they have little background in Imaging is silly.
They have been around for a while and most likely will be.

I used their Betacam gear as a Pro Videographer in the 80's and it was first rate, Right up there with Ikegami.
12-30-2013, 01:51 PM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joel B Quote
Now three ways to gain exposure:1 Sell cheap to colleges and schools so students will get to know the system.(an old Apple trick)
They market Q and K50/K500 in school-color bodies in college towns - not NCAA license deals, just the body colors
QuoteOriginally posted by Joel B Quote
2 Make deals with x-teams, Olympic teams, sportsmen, any group that would show off the camera's build and weather resistance.
Decent idea, but problematic unless you do the entire IOC license, which is way to expensive (and I think already Canon) - so then which EU country? Does RIAC have enough money to underwrite the US Ski Team or just bobsled, etc?
QuoteOriginally posted by Joel B Quote
3 Make a deal with breast cancer awareness.(special pink K-3 or K-50) This should get the attention of at least 50% of the population!! Think about it, a battle ready K-3 in pink for the cause!!
I believe they've thought of that but I don't know the outcome. Again, who with and what do you underwrite - the local "Race for the Cure" 10K races? "Race for the Cure" National Co-marketing? Breast Cancer Research Foundation (which one)? It isn't easy to do. Pentax's USA budget is really small compared to Canon and Nikon.

One current Charitable Affiliation Marketing effort is with (I think) The Humane Society

Last edited by monochrome; 12-30-2013 at 02:01 PM.
12-30-2013, 01:55 PM   #44
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Oh well, at least I'm not sitting around stewing in my hate for all things Ricoh!! Although with the pink camera, you just have to announce that a certain percentage of the sale is going to the charity. Kinda like the various food cos. doing it.
12-30-2013, 02:04 PM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joel B Quote
Oh well, at least I'm not sitting around stewing in my hate for all things Ricoh!! Although with the pink camera, you just have to announce that a certain percentage of the sale is going to the charity. Kinda like the various food cos. doing it.
Oh I didn't mean to throw it back in your face - those are good ideas. What frustrates me is Denver doesn't get any credit here (or in ANY mefia, it seems) for the things they are doing.
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