It’s never about the money spent on a product, it’s always about quality: Fujifilm India’s Arun Babu
To know more about Fujifilm's new camera and what the company has been busy with, we chatted with Arun Babu, general manager, Electronic Imaging and Optical Devices Division, Fujifilm India and here are some excerpts from the interview…
Fujifilm India recently launched the Fujifilm X-S10 (X-S10), adding to its flagship X series range of mirrorless digital cameras. With prices starting from ₹99,999, the X-S10 comes with a variety of lens kit options and is aimed at vloggers, photographers and even beginners and is available in two variants - 1855mm and 1680mm.
To know more about this new camera and what Fujifilm India has been busy with, we chatted with Arun Babu, general manager, Electronic Imaging and Optical Devices Division, Fujifilm India and here are some excerpts from the interview:
Tell us a bit about the product you just launched?
This is a second launch this year, a virtual launch. The model is actually one of the compact cameras with a very beautiful grip. Embodied with advanced features at a very affordable rate for professionals. There are different variants with the body and one will be with the XF18-55 lens and the other with XF16-80 lens.
Currently when you go for a professional camera you might have to spend up on roughly around ₹4-5 lakh. However, in case of this, the body is around ₹1 lakh and the kits are ₹1.35 lakh and ₹1.50 lakh.
The X-S10 comes with many features as it is a 4k camera with in-built Image stabilisation. It is a packaged camera in a very affordable way, it is meant for all. It is not only for wedding professionals, it can be used for street photography, it can be used for travel and hobby photography.
Over the pandemic people have bought more smartphones and laptops to be able to work better from home. Have you seen such a trend for cameras? At a time like this, are people looking to actually buy cameras?
What you are saying is right, during this pandemic most of the people who have thought of buying something have mostly bought home entertainment stuff or they have bought laptops. In India, the camera industry is dependent mostly on weddings, because more than 50-60% of the business comes from the wedding market.
Given the restrictions over the number of people gathering in a place for weddings and other events being gradually eased, things are looking up for the camera market.
At the same time, we saw an increase in customers who are becoming YouTubers. These people are learning new hobbies; either cooking or yoga and they are shooting these and are putting it on social media platforms, these kinds of customers are looking into buying cameras.
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Now recently, as the wedding season is beginning post Diwali, we can see that many people have again started buying these different digital cameras and Fujifilm has an edge in this case. Whenever you speak about professional photography, what happens is that people tend to think that they should invest a lot of money in the equipment and buy a camera body and maybe buy three or four lenses - because it seems professional. That same set of equipment, when you buy from Fujifilm it comes at one-third the price.
So people have started becoming very intelligent now, people are realising that it's not about the money what you spent on the product it's about the quality of the product. We are catering to a wide variety of customers across price points.
So the X-S10 is an affordable product and you want to make people understand that you don't really need to spend a bomb to get good equipment. Are your marketing plans placed accordingly keeping in mind the affordability factor?
When I say affordable, it is more affordable for many professionals, or those who are willing to become professionals. Fujifilm has a range of cameras, which are affordable for amateurs. Coming back to your question on what kind of marketing we are planning around this camera - as I said that this camera is meant for all, it is not only for weddings. It is meant for hobby photographers and also for bloggers. We have planned monthly activities where users and those interested can connect with all kinds of photo genres. We will be conducting many workshops, collaborate with YouTubers where they will be testing the camera and sharing their views on it.
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Most of these bloggers and Youtubers have started using their phone cameras lately given the lockdown. In addition, smartphone cameras are good enough to get the work done with it and sometimes even better.
What the lockdown period has done is that it has allowed everyone to explore their hidden talents in the social media-dominant world. They have started adopting the skill of taking pictures and expressing themselves through them.
It has been seen that these people who have bought phones throughout their life are now shifting to a camera, which are under a budget of ₹40,000 or ₹50,000. The other people want to become more professional, learn more, or they want to when they shoot. They want to have that professional quality. This is a perfect set. I'm talking about this second set of people. A camera allows for not just photography but also videography that works perfectly for many users.
What is the most compelling reason that you would give vloggers and YouTubers to graduate from using a smartphone camera to like a professional camera?
Let me put it this way, that camera has its own place. When you compare smartphones and cameras, it is a vicious circle. Someone starts shooting with a smartphone, he/she posts it on social media and starts getting likes. This engagement creates a passion in him/her to do better and this is when they aspire for and plan towards professional-quality products.
Nowadays you spend ₹50,000 for a smartphone and at the same price, you can get a camera. We have camera along with a lens at that price, but when it comes to smartphones, you have to buy a new smartphone if you want to change your style of videography or photography.
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Brands like Apple, Samsung, Vivo etc are doing a lot with their cameras. Technically even phones are no longer limited to, you know, like a certain set of lenses...
I am not saying that mobile photography is not evolving. It is evolving and even camera manufacturers are also evolving with features that mobile phones don't have.
So are professional cameras playing catch-up?
No, I would say that. The rise and consumption of smartphones with great quality cameras have made people think about the need and importance of owning a digital camera.The more people experiment with smartphone cameras, the more will feel the urge, or need to become a professional by using a professional camera to get the kind of results that can only be delivered via professional cameras.
How have things in 2020 been different for you?
It has been a different year, not only for us but also even for other brands. To know the difference, you should know what we used to do earlier. Then only you will understand the difference between 2019 and 2020.
Before Covid-19 all marketing activities were different. We used to do lots of workshops, we used to call the photographers, maybe 100 or 200 at a time and then showcase our camera. We also used to participate in various exhibitions, where thousands and thousands of people could come see the photographs and also see the product and use it.
So on March 23 when the lockdown was announced, as a brand we were very lucky that we were all set and we were all prepared. We started doing virtual workshops immediately. These were never done earlier and we started doing it at a very small scale and nowadays it is being done aggressively.
We have also started involving a lot of foreign photographers and we invite them to share insights and key learnings on our platform for free to Indian photographers who want to learn from them. We also had workshops with Indian photographers like Dabboo Ratnani who is also the Fujifilm X-products' brand ambassador.
Then we also participated with one of the biggest projects, which was India Film Project which recently concluded. For this a lot of small documentary filmmakers participated in a competition and Fujifilm was one of the main sponsors.
We have also started one-on-one demos. So now, if you want a camera, you can go on our Facebook, Instagram and all the social media handles and if you search for a camera you will be lead right to the demo. Then you need to answer questions like - which camera, when do you want the demo - what day and what time, etc. You will then receive an automatic email confirming your slot and then you can take part in a virtual hangout where you will be shown the camera, explained the features etc.
These demos are done by Fujifilm staff and if customers have made up their mind about the model they want to buy, we guide them to the right dealer and store and you can get the camera delivered home.
This is working very well for us. We have been doing it for four-five months now and every day the team is doing almost 15 calls.
Do most of these calls translate to sales?
So I would say almost up to 15-20% this conversion is happening, but there are people who might do the session and still decide to go to the store and pick the camera in person. Or they buy it on Amazon or Flipkart.
We are also collaborating with our offline channel partners and online partners like Amazon and Flipkart for marketing activities on their platform, or in their showrooms as we used to earlier.
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