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12-28-2013, 11:32 PM   #1
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One reason why Pentax will never be a major player

I wasn't sure which forum to put this in, so here goes ...

Anyhow, as I browsed the various flyers this past week in my part of Canada, looking at the Christmas and Boxing Day/Week sales, I saw some amazing deals on various Canon and Nikon packages, even some Sony and Olympus I believe, from compact and bridge cameras and entry-level DSLRs to top-of-the-line models. In some cases, savings were in the several hundreds of dollars. But I was struck most by the complete absence of killer deals on Pentax equipment.

My point: If I was someone interested in starting out in photography or moving up to a DSLR, why would I even remotely consider Pentax given the mass-marketing and amazing deals being heaped upon us by other brands? How can anyone wonder why the other brands mentioned have relegated Pentax to one of the smallest players in the world of photography? What possible up-front advantage would I be gaining by going with Pentax seeing how the low prices that got me hooked in the first place are now a thing of the past?

So if Pentax really wants to gain market share, I guess what I'm saying is that their marketing people need to do a serious job of aggressively promoting their products with mouth-watering deals, particularly during the Christmas season. Otherwise, they will remain a small-time player at best. More and bigger and catchy ads only go so far; people really want a crazy financial incentive if they're to ever going to be wooed from the Canikons of this world.

All I can assume at this point is that Pentax (i.e. Ricoh) either doesn't want to increase their market share or doesn't think that it will make a difference, because since I've been with Pentax this past 5 years - on a great deal of faith, mind you - little has changed in terms of the growth of the Pentax name and especially widespread equipment availability. Instead, we get ownership changes and money put into things like medium-format that is beyond the budget of all but a tiny few in the world of photography. Frankly, it's all rather pathetic, but I guess this is just one man's opinion.

12-28-2013, 11:58 PM   #2
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perhaps in Canada, in Australia we are enjoying the lowest pricing on Pentax and Sigma in the whole Universe!
https://www.pentax.com.au/shop
At least 10%+ cheaper than US/Canada and 40%+ cheaper then Europe.
I constantly can hear my Nikon and Canon friends complaining about pricing in US being 50% cheaper as it used to be with Pentax 12 months ago!
Definitely Pentaxian numbers in Australia are growing strongly, I purchased in last 12 months more photographic gear than in last 5 years simply because of an incredible deals.
thank you Pentax AU!
12-29-2013, 12:00 AM   #3
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Agressive marketing only makes sense if you have product to sell in excess of expected movement rates. There are reports that the k-3 is difficult to come by with some dealers taking deposits on orders. Whether that is due to fast sales or slow production I do not know.

It has also been reported that both Canon and Nikon are sittig on bloated inventories due to production getting ahead of sales.

I agree more marketing would be good but up until recently it would have been wasted money as their products were a bit dated. And if they are now selling all they can produce why waste money on marketing?
12-29-2013, 12:14 AM   #4
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My point was, what about the person considering which brand to jump into? Regardless of inventory levels, etc., what could Pentax/Ricoh do to start claiming much more market share from people like this, assuming it even wants to?

Why I think this is so crucially important is because more market share = more sales = more R&D money = much more body and lens options. I'm beginning to envy the broad selection and widespread availability that Canikon users enjoy but don't want to feel like I have to switch to one of them someday. Anyhow, thanks for putting up with my rants on this issue.

12-29-2013, 01:32 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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Personally I think a lot of the 'numbers' are not telling the entire story.

The big names make cameras for people who like ease and to snap. These people are not and do not intend to be photographers at all. All they want is an auto mode and something they can take snapshots with.

I would venture to say that 'most' of the advertising and so forth gets put into those types of products...getting their corporate deals with Target or Best Buy or whatever big box store.

Most (IE 90%) of the people snapping shots will never take their cameras off the automatic mode and they might drag them out for an odd birthday or whatever. Yet there is money in that segment. Every $400 camera yields a profit.

Yet on the other hand Pentax is competing on a photographer's level. The people and segment they are targeting (albeit still not very good) are the people who are somewhere in between the guys who sit on the sidelines of NFL games and people who make an effort to be a more serious photographer. They haven't gone full blown 'pro' in my opinion (that being said it depends on your definition of pro) but there is a lot lacking before you see Pentax putting a dent in that segment...

That said, in the areas where Pentax has focused it's philosophy (and efforts)...it excels. Bang for the buck...it's still a major value with tons of potential upside...That all said Pentax is still a niche player...and will remain such until it provides a bigger, better, faster, and more dynamic set of glass. A K5 or now a K3...will hang with ANYTHING in the same segment... a 7D or whatever... but in glass... does Pentax offer anything close as a whole in way of choice? Nope.

When Pentax gets 15 or 20 FA Limited quality glass...all with sub f2 apertures in current production...then you will see people start to take note a heck of a lot more...

The question is do we WANT Pentax to delve into the super high end market? Do we WANT Pentax to become a Wal Mart or Best Buy brand? Or do we want them staying focused on the type of demographic they have now?
12-29-2013, 03:57 AM   #6
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Well in a great part you are right. Pentax can only grow when marketing is getting bigger and smarter. One thing you forgot is the already mentioned excessive stored inventory off Nikon that makes clearing stock a big deal. The deals on Sony and Olympus are simply getting marketshare on creating a loss making company and that won't get you far in the real world. Would I like Pentax to be bigger? Yes, we can all benefit from the larger sales revenues by getting a bigger research department and thus more diversity in products and support. But only as long as Pentax is making a profit as a brand.
12-29-2013, 07:09 AM - 2 Likes   #7
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First, why does one assume Pentax wants to be a big player? That is a Straw Man argument. I wouldn't accuse you of setting up a Straw Man because I sense you are in earnest, but an intentional Pentax knocker would do just that.

Canon and Nikon control between them 70% or so of the dSLR market, do what they do very well and have the resources to aggressively defend their position. A small company like Pentax would not succeed over the short term becoming a "Big Player" in that environment. Pentax intentionally did not build warehouses full of products in 2013 that must be heavily discounted today - which is what Canon and Nikon did do.

Over the intermediate term, say 5 - 7 years, being nimble. smart and wasting no efforts, Ricoh can carefully and incrementally guide Pentax into the #3 position as an alternative to CaNikon. An alternative, not a conqueror. 10% or even 15% of the market. From that point, looking a further 20 years out, Ricoh's vision is to be #1. Ricoh did just that in copiers in 28 years - virtually nothing to #1 in a generation.

These are the foundation building years. We often don't see the foundation when it is being built, and certainly won't after the edifice is complete.

Be patient. Embrace Ricoh's time horizon. Appreciate what we have today.

Or buy the other brands if they have the price you want and you can't wait. There's nothing wrong with that.
12-29-2013, 07:13 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Be patient. Embrace Ricoh's time horizon. Appreciate what we have today.

Or buy the other brands if they have the price you want and you can't wait. There's nothing wrong with that.
I couldn't possibly agree more. Very well said indeed.

12-29-2013, 07:38 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by enoxatnep Quote
I wasn't sure which forum to put this in, so here goes ...

Anyhow, as I browsed the various flyers this past week in my part of Canada, looking at the Christmas and Boxing Day/Week sales, I saw some amazing deals on various Canon and Nikon packages, even some Sony and Olympus I believe, from compact and bridge cameras and entry-level DSLRs to top-of-the-line models. In some cases, savings were in the several hundreds of dollars. But I was struck most by the complete absence of killer deals on Pentax equipment.

My point: If I was someone interested in starting out in photography or moving up to a DSLR, why would I even remotely consider Pentax given the mass-marketing and amazing deals being heaped upon us by other brands? How can anyone wonder why the other brands mentioned have relegated Pentax to one of the smallest players in the world of photography? What possible up-front advantage would I be gaining by going with Pentax seeing how the low prices that got me hooked in the first place are now a thing of the past?

So if Pentax really wants to gain market share, I guess what I'm saying is that their marketing people need to do a serious job of aggressively promoting their products with mouth-watering deals, particularly during the Christmas season. Otherwise, they will remain a small-time player at best. More and bigger and catchy ads only go so far; people really want a crazy financial incentive if they're to ever going to be wooed from the Canikons of this world.

All I can assume at this point is that Pentax (i.e. Ricoh) either doesn't want to increase their market share or doesn't think that it will make a difference, because since I've been with Pentax this past 5 years - on a great deal of faith, mind you - little has changed in terms of the growth of the Pentax name and especially widespread equipment availability. Instead, we get ownership changes and money put into things like medium-format that is beyond the budget of all but a tiny few in the world of photography. Frankly, it's all rather pathetic, but I guess this is just one man's opinion.
Personally I was quite impressed with the deals on Pentax equipment. The DA-300 and was offered at $300 off on one site and the DA* 200 2.8 for as much as $200 off.

It might not have occurred to you, but Pentax can't survive by trying to undercut the prices of Canon and Nikon, both of whom are stuck with huge inventory that they desperately need to reduce, and are either losing money or suffering reduced profits.

So I see your dilemma. You can get stuff that isn't as well made as Pentax gear at fire sale prices, or stick with Pentax. Not once in your comparison, did you mention what price you can get a camera with a metal chassis, shake reduction and WR for, compared to a similar model from Pentax. But, if you don't value those things, buy something cheap. It wouldn't save me any money, because, the way Pentax builds cameras gives me more flexibility and range. If that's not true for you, and you just bought for price, change now. You aren't going to be a long term Pentaxian anyway. Canon and Nikon have cameras they can't sell at MSLP to sell you.

They are having fire sales. Meanwhile Pentax K-3s are sold out at Pentax Canada and they are trying to bring in stock from the rest of the world.

Last edited by normhead; 12-29-2013 at 07:45 AM.
12-29-2013, 07:38 AM   #10
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Maybe some of the folks from other parts of the world can comment on this, but I sometimes wonder if Pentax isn't conceding much of the North American market to Canikon, while they build up their base in the rest of the world. I rarely run into a Pentax DSLR user here, but it seems more common elsewhere. Or maybe that's just my perception. I agree with monochrome's point about Pentax trying to position themselves as an alternative to Canikon. You can kind of see it in the products they release because they don't always follow what everyone else is doing.
12-29-2013, 07:52 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
Maybe some of the folks from other parts of the world can comment on this, but I sometimes wonder if Pentax isn't conceding much of the North American market to Canikon, while they build up their base in the rest of the world.
At one time - during my lifetime - North America was where you had to be if you wanted to manufacture or sell anything. Shockingly to Americans, that's not quite so true any more.

Ironically, due to our ridiculous overabundance of natural gas due to hydraulic fracturing, over the next thirty years North America will become the low-cost location on Earth to manufacture anything that requires heat, and anything for which methane or ethane is the feedstock (raw plastic and fertilizer, for instance).

All those middle class manufacturing jobs will come back to us. Eventually. Just as Pentax and other consumer product manufacturers will come back to us. Eventually.
12-29-2013, 07:59 AM   #12
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Good thoughts, everyone. Sometimes I need things to be put back into perspective like this.
12-29-2013, 08:03 AM   #13
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When I scratch my head at the way Pentax is going about things...especially their lack of marketing...I think back to an article I read years ago that listed 3M as the third largest manufacturer of film behind Kodak and Fuji. You NEVER saw 3M film advertised, so how could they have become #3? Instead of battling the big 2 on the advertising front, 3M made sure that every house brand of film...whether it was bought at Target or MotoPhoto or wherever...was 3M film. Because they had no advertising budget, they were able to offer their film for less, which allowed all these outlets to tack on a little profit for themselves and still be able to compete very well in terms of price and quality with Kodak and Fuji. It just reminded me that there's more than one way to skin a cat.
12-29-2013, 09:15 AM   #14
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Then there's the reality that there are no slick Pentax flyers in the newspaper here because there are simply no dealers to stock and sell the products!
12-29-2013, 09:59 AM   #15
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Fact: Most people who buy cameras don't know what 2/3 of the buttons do on the thing. I have spent more than my share telling various designated 'photographers' (for company functions or whatever) what 'white balance' means, or what is 'aperture'...

If that's the market you are targeting, by all means, snazzy eye catching super bowl ads are the way to go. And they need be able to pick it up from their local warehouse store.

That said, if you are selling dentistry equipment, why even bother with something other than very specific targeted marketing? And for darn sure why would you have the latest FR2040 electromagnetic power tooth drill 'in stock at Wal Mart'?

Right now Pentax has a bunch of engineers who like photography running things including the ad department....but if they do what others want them to do... they need to hire a bunch of hipster 20 something 'cool kids' to run that aspect of the organization...

For some stupid reason making a product appeal to a 22 year old somehow makes that product 'cutting edge'...
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