How much market research do camera companies do?

shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
edited May 2013 in General Discussions
I see these products coming to market at high prices and I just don't get it.

CX 32mm f/1.2 lens... at $900.
Hasselblad Lunar.
This new Leica compact that's 18-45mm f/3.5-6.4...at about $3K (EUR 2450).
I'm sure there are other examples.

Do companies know they'll sell lots of these things through research, and therefore the joke is on me, or are they taking shots in the dark?
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  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    They do tons of market research as evidenced by the gain in market share in a contracting marketplace. Also look at this job opening. http://www.nikonusa.com/en/About-Nikon/Careers/Position-Details.page?Position=Market_Research_Analyst The description sheds some light on their internal process, and note this is just for Nikon USA. At big companies that sell worldwide in local currencies, there are generally whole teams devoted to pricing and it is generally hotly debated.
    Finally, the high-end pro market is where Nikon generally tests and releases new technology first, and then it winds it's way down to pro-sumer and then finally consumer and entry level, where most (all) of the money is made. Our view here is way skewed to the pro stuff, so the Nikon 1 gets laughed at, but it is a hot seller for Nikon, so why not bring out some really expensive stuff to see who nibbles? These are some of the same folks that bought the trinity set for a D3000, so why not? $900 is what some folks spend on a night out on the town...
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 880Member
    Despite market studies Nikon Japan has certain principals they embrace. Fuji has been quicker to uptake on serious user/owners input. Nikon practically has an iron curtain view of serious user/owner input. The fact though is that prosumer and consumer cameras and lens actually result in more sales. This to me makes Sigma's lens offerings look pretty intelligent and Nikon seems bent on elitism that market studies might indicate was off center. While I was a graduate student and a professor I was always baffled why many would set out to prove their own idea rather than actually find out what impact or relation something had to the world. In education Marshal McLulan's book Sabertooth Curriculum bashes those who just set out to keep things as they are rather than evaluate a changing world even after scaring off Sabertooth Tigers is no longer needed as they became extinct. One penchant seems to find many serious photographers jumping to the conclusion that bigger lens and formats are always superior when maybe a Nikon 1 will do the job the owner wants done. A fact that Nikon had seriously overlooked was the reason and the ability of Nikon DX format compared to FX. Every time I pick up a D800 to go take a few photos I always react "WOW, This is a BIG camera."! But in some setting that may indeed be the perfect camera for the job. Still you might just go to a 4X5 or a Hasselblad.
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 880Member
    I meant that Mclulan's comments on J Aber Petiwell's book Sabertooth Curriculm. McLulan stated you can learn 44,000 times faster through your eyes than you can your ears.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    edited May 2013
    . While I was a graduate student and a professor I was always baffled why many would set out to prove their own idea rather than actually find out what impact or relation something had to the world.
    I love that! lol Looks like I have a new book to check out.

    1st rule of business - Survive. Businesses do not exist to accommodate for anything or anyone unless that rule is satisfied. Selling what the masses can afford, is far down the list.

    If they are creating a product it is because they see a demand for it. Then they figure out how much it will cost to produce it. Then they attempt to calculate that demand in sold units. Then A price is set based on the production cost and how long it will take to break even. At that point they do the market research. If the actual sales is extremely high, (50mm, 18-55mm) then the cost can be lowered.
    I don't know any successful business who does not work in this way.
    Do companies know they'll sell lots of these things through research, and therefore the joke is on me, or are they taking shots in the dark?
    That statement would assume that market research is done before they create a product and/or the goal is to sell tons of them - that is just not the case. Companies don't care if they sell gobs and gobs of items, only that they can do it and survive (and hopefully make money doing it.) In all actuality they are probably trying to break even within a couple of years and hope they will someday make money on them.

    One thing I think it does say, (reguards to the CX 32mm f1.2) the 1-series sensor size is here to stay. I doubt they would make a high end optic at that level if they didn't believe it had a lifespan of 3-5 years.

    On the cost of everything, if you account for "real" inflation costs are not rising at all. The cost impact of a Leica to a person in the 1960s is more or less the same as it is today. Many companies for the last 3 years left prices where they were at due to the world economy. At some point, they have to make up for the rise in costs which accounts for some large jumps.


    Post edited by TaoTeJared on
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,370Moderator
    Most likely, one can conclude from Nikon's way of dealing with the various issues which have arisen from the D800 and D600 that the market research is not taken very seriously. As a pro if I were beginning a build of equipment, I would do a lot of research of Canon to see what problems they have, and how they are managed by Canon. Then, I may just purchase Canon instead of Nikon.

    It baffles me the attitude of Nikon with the issues folks have had, particularly the D600. So, apparently, Nikon simply ignores the market research as it most likely indicates bad vibs from the current clients.

    However, maybe Nikon is working out bugs in the D400 so it does not create a negative response in the consumers and this is the delay in marketing.

    It is my opinion, Nikon, Canon, and others most likely have their spies in the competitors work force who constantly share information and this means there will be a close relationship in pricing between competitive products
    Msmoto, mod
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    on. Then, I may just purchase Canon instead of Nikon.

    A wildlife photographer friend has just got a 5D MKIII, she is very pleased with it

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  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    Hi all,

    The trick is for companies not to do the research at all.

    They need to hire it out by an independent firm as not to taint the results. The company needs to look at the research with 'clean and fresh eyes' as to understand what their consumers really want, not the company has to sell them.

    @Msmoto - re- D600 and beating dead horses.

    Elsewhere someone has a problem with a D600 and wishes to figure out what to do with it while in warranty. I'm debating whether to suggest that he just turn it in while he can. IMHO, the D600 is the Edsel of cameras, the punchline that doesn't need a setup. Just say, "D600" and wink, it's bound to get a laugh.

    But it really isn't funny if you've laid out a couple of grand.

    It's perfect for market, zero for the engineering, black eye for the brand - you have to have it all.

    @ Davey - I'm quite familiar with Marshall McLuhan, but not in context of the Saber-tooth Curriculum. It sounds interesting. Some younger folks might (or might not) be interested that McLuhan conceived the World-Wide Web before it was invented.

    It's interesting to me that there's more (by far) Lo-Fi images (and growth in that market everyday). The pixel depth might be high, but the actual quality of the images comes from small sensors and the color shows it, but the public doesn't care. Sometimes, it overcomes itself and becomes greater than itself.

    Even Yahoo President Marissa Mayer made the careless faux pas "there's no such thing really as professional photographers anymore." Ouch!

    I suspect I'll get a note from someone my Pro Account...

    My best,

    Mike
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,370Moderator
    edited May 2013
    @MikeGunter

    If Nikon ever acknowledges the issue of the D600, I will most likely stop beating it to death.....it is, however, one reason I have not purchased any more gear for awhile.

    But, I agree fully that this is a very serious problem and for someone who has a significant investment in Nikon, I am deeply saddened by the behavior towards owners of the D600.

    For me personally, having started my pro career in the 60's with two Nikon F bodies, I guess I am hoping for something from Nikon to at least be a star performer.

    As to corporate bean counters saying stupid things......oh well....
    Post edited by Msmoto on
    Msmoto, mod
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    Hi all,

    @Msmoto - I'm so sorry that I was unclear. I'm the one beat the horse, not you.

    And I think that horse needs a lot of beating. The D600 is crap.

    While it might seem okay at a specific set of settings, outside that set, it fails. It will be 'known' in the photographic community and its value will suffer and should.

    Nikon intentionally crippled the camera's features (at least I think so) to keep the market for the other FX cameras stable in a higher plateau - a strategy that is based on consumerism, not science (and that is key).

    The D600 should have been one of the classic cameras of our times, a transformational camera, an FX camera that brought FX to 'everyman' at an affordable price; but it's not. It's a real lemon.

    The original poster's question is valid. Do they do research?

    Or to the point, do they care about customers or do they just care about our money?

    My best,

    Mike
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    well I think Nikon also got their Market research wrong on the D800, they did not expect to sell so many
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    Hi sevencrossing

    A broken analog clock is right twice a day. ;-)

    My best,

    Mike
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    And even a blind squirrel finds a nut once and a while :-D
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    I see these products coming to market at high prices and I just don't get it.

    CX 32mm f/1.2 lens... at $900.
    Hasselblad Lunar.
    This new Leica compact that's 18-45mm f/3.5-6.4...at about $3K (EUR 2450).
    I'm sure there are other examples.

    Do companies know they'll sell lots of these things through research, and therefore the joke is on me, or are they taking shots in the dark?
    Sorry, I didn't read all the other posts and can't contribute, but I think your post/question is just extremely hilarious! Exactly what I sometimes think when I see products like the ones you mentioned!
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  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    edited May 2013
    I for one am excited to see the new stuff coming out - a CX 32mm 1.2, yes people have been yearning for something that fast for the small sensor 1 series. Zeiss 55mm 1.4 the optics fantastic, quality fantastic! Olympus M. Zuiko 1.8 lenses have filled out almost every focal length. Zeiss glass for Fuji X and Sony looks great - and finely AF. Nikon has updated most of their lenses - 3rd party manufacture's quality is increasing - accessories for everything are rolling out monthly - it is an exciting time for photographers.
    Most of these wonderful creations satisfy many if not all desires but as many, I am humbled by the prices as they would be for a secondary/personal system or something that would have limited use. The priorities that we (hopefully wisely) set for ourselves take over and we choose to eat rather than reach.

    Begin of Rant-----------------------

    People complain about the lack of X whether it be a "plasticy" feel, full time manual override, lack of VR, weather sealing, nano coating, perfect sharpness/contrast, no distortion and the list goes on for miles. Do people think that is free or that it comes cheap? Personally I think the D600 is a lesson in "deserves all of you right." People didn't want to pay more than "X" and they got what they wished for - a cheap FX and with it, all the rewards for meeting an unrealistic price point. Hey, nothing comes for free.

    My grandfather would make his own work benches, saw horses, fix furniture and the like. He was adequate, and at the same time absolutely terrible at it. (Something that we lied about, said it looked great, but is biting us in the butt now as he is moving into a community living condo and thinks he needs to auction everything as if it had any value. *sigh) Now his neighbor did the same thing and made other furniture that was amazingly good. He had the knowledge, the tools, the patience, and dedication to create something of quality as each piece would take him months to finish after work. My grandfather made his in a weekend and bragged about it for years and implied how stupid his PHD neighbor was for spending so much time at it. Each of their creations did their job, both have lasted the test of time of 30 years or more, and both men worked hard and found stratification in building them. His neighbor's old garage work bench sold at an auction for $1,500 and other pieces (even sawhorses) sold at auction with huge interest. My grandfather's will cost us an additional $500 for the garbage company to haul all the crap away. It is easy to beat up my grandfathers stuff. "Almost" is the best way to describe it; Almost level, almost square, almost held the vise tight, almost fit his tools, almost... To my grandfather's credit, it did last 30-40+ years, and even did have the kitchen sink thrown at it. It was not refined as his neighbors, but it did it's job.

    With an affordable FX camera, Nikon released the 24-85vr for under $600 and people blasted it for distortion, wasn't as sharp as X , wasn't as good as X, plastic build, no weather sealing and calling it a sub-par lens. Then out the other side of their mouth they complain about the 24-70 being almost $2,000. The lens is simply an "Almost" lens. Distortion was Almost as good as the 24-70, Almost as sharp when stopped down, focused Almost as fast, Almost reached the resolution output as well. It is slower in light transition, but it has VR that the best doesn't. It was much better than the similar lenses before it. I'm willing to bet, for Almost everyone, the lens will work quite well. And all for at for almost 1/4 the price.

    I just want to smack the people who belch this type of double-speak, overly critical garbage out. Ok maybe smack is too strong - how about having the bird they are shooting poop on their head-and their $70 camera strap. But seriously how completely out of touch are people anymore? Does anyone know how to make anything of quality? Maybe kids no longer even have to glue confetti, macaroni and yarn to paper plates for masks anymore - oh wait, I saw a pre-made mask made out of that stuff in Walmart too (seriously I did.)

    I think we as our society moves further and further away from "do it yourself" to store bought assembly line "X" product we become clueless to what it takes, and costs, to have quality products. So many are so far removed from any understanding of any type of production that they think adding this or that is just another "cardboard box" accessory for $X.99 that you can just pull off the shelf.

    In my head when I can't afford it, I just think "suck it up and stop complaining. If you want it that bad, then spend your time in figuring out how to get it, rather then complaining about it."

    ok, Rant over.
    Post edited by TaoTeJared on
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 880Member
    I agree with TaoTeJared. I do think though that Nikon could have been a little softer on the 80-400VR as although this new lens seems to be wonderful the price was high enough it has reduced the sales volume to the point that overall return on their investment is no better, and probably worse. The topic of this thread is marketing research and I submit that marketing research should in part suggest what the consumer will pay. My reaction to the D600 was it cut corners on FX and at a fairly good price that I just decided to pass on. D7000 and D7100 I just decided to buy and have been pleased.

    I represent an industry that is for sure do it yourself. Our furniture and home quality in relation to price is fantastic. That brings us sales and happy customers. We have also majored in building and renovating timber frame homes. What we cannot buy store bought we MUST buy or do without. We cannot make glass windows or camera lens. So we buy from those who make them of the quality we need for the price we can afford. Glass windows are way easier to come buy than camera lens. Since I have owned some very excellent and some cases expensive lens I know what I would like to buy today. Another major factor for me is that I am closer to TaoTeJAred's grandfather's situation than I would like to be. Once you are older and retired what you simply would have bought and used in the past I do not buy today. Marketing research should be taking all these factors into account. Nikon knows their market WAY better than I do. However there are important Nikon mind sets that influence what they decide to market and when. I also think TaoTeJared and many other NR veterans feel that the D400 is curiously late. But I also am certain Nikon's overall requirement is to make money and survive and just perhaps they are about this September going to market the D400. If so there will be a lot of sales just based on the pent up desire of buyers for this specific camera.

    My hopes are that marketing research and production for that specific camera don't miss the point that most DX
    targeted buyers are willing and able to pay a certain price and then put on features that is good enough to get the job done. In many cases I think an almost D400 that sacrifices some high end possible add ons favoring a more affordable price.
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  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,370Moderator
    edited June 2013
    Hey, guys, let's try to keep the comments on the subject not on anyone posting.

    Thank you
    Post edited by Msmoto on
    Msmoto, mod
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    Another major factor for me is that I am closer to TaoTeJAred's grandfather's situation than I would like to be. Once you are older and retired what you simply would have bought and used in the past I do not buy today.

    ... I also think TaoTeJared and many other NR veterans feel that the D400 is curiously late. But I also am certain Nikon's overall requirement is to make money and survive and just perhaps they are about this September going to market the D400. If so there will be a lot of sales just based on the pent up desire of buyers for this specific camera.

    My hopes are that marketing research and production for that specific camera don't miss the point that most DX
    targeted buyers are willing and able to pay a certain price and then put on features that is good enough to get the job done. In many cases I think an almost D400 that sacrifices some high end possible add ons favoring a more affordable price.
    Well my grandfather will be 85 in a few days and he has hit the point of "can't take it with me" (something I'm sure my grandmother is happy about that with his old work bench) and went out and bought a $3,000 telescope just to look at the moon. I don't think he spent $3,000 on anything other than a car in the last 30 years.

    I think Nikon's marketing is spot on - we all want something of their's, but it is always slightly priced out of our reach. Interestingly enough though, how many on here do we see complain about price or ask about cheaper suggestion to only show up with the high dollar item a week, month, year later?

    The D400 will be interesting. From the new rumors it seems that they get the point in wanting high FPS for sports, but he MP are still 24 - Low light? It sounds like they did halt producing something that was going to fall short - and that is good to see. Canon gets the low light desire - their products are smashing Nikon's in this category now. Using a D800 for a year now, it has thrown me back on the fence as the high resolution vs low light. I was always more low light quality over resolution, but now I struggle when I don't have the huge resolution. 12/16-24mp, not that big, 12/16mp vs 36mp - that is huge! I have pulled so many shots out of you know where, that I couldn't without that 36mp sensor. It is a very hard trade-off unless you specialize in one area or another that requires it. I do think that low light performance is more important on DX per the majority of the user class. I don't call the D300s as a release, just an upgrade, but now it is 6-7 years from the D300? That sucker better be good.

    The thing I am looking for is a 50mm 1.2 and a 400mm 5.6 or something like that. Certainly specialty lenses but two that seem to be almost a no brainer to produce since you know people will buy them. Same goes with smaller 2.8 primes.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
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  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,916Member
    edited June 2013
    @Slakjaw Every one of your posts has been negative, you are just coming across as a troll. Nikon hasn't denied anything, then again they also haven't admitted anything either. The reality is that Nikon has simply stayed silent, and fixed cameras as they come in for service, just like any other defect. Moving on to the subject at hand. (That's enough troll feeding for one day)

    Nikon, like most Japaneses camera makers, designs cameras first and foremost for the home market, then for the rest of the world. For example Nikon 1 cameras, they sold very well in Japan (when compared to other mirrorless cameras), but like other mirrorless cameras not so well elsewhere. Does that mean Nikon didn't do any market research? Nope, it just means they targeted a segment of the market, and that segment bought the cameras.

    The same can be said for Nikon's DSLR line. The high end D4 and D800 came first, then the entry level models, followed by the entry level FX D600, and finally the D7100. Release the big boys (D4/D800) to get people interested in the camera system, then release the cheap consumer level models on the high that comes from the arrival of the big boys. Then you release the prosumer models (D600/D7100), as that segment get's tired of their two and half year old D7000's.

    The D400? That's the odd man out. Nikon released cameras all around it and many users, who once felt they needed the D300/D300s before stepped down to the D7000/D7100 because, they did not need the speed of the D300s. So Nikon's market research either says, there aren't enough users left that want the D400, or they are more than willing to wait because they know what they want.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited June 2013
    So Nikon's market research either says, there aren't enough users left that want the D400, .......

    there is a demand for a D400 but enough to justly the R &D? I don't think so

    needles to say, Nikon like all companies , are not going to public the Market research results
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    Now that rumours have been deemed confirmed, I'd like to add the $3,000 Leica f/3.5-6.4 compact to products in my "Who on Earth is buying that?" pile. Surely people who want to invest in Leica will buy "M", whilst people looking to buy red dots would buy one of the cheaper compacts?
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