Constantly innovating to keep up with the evolving tech landscape, Canon’s focus areas and marketing strategies always remain in line with industry trends and new consumption patterns
“We actively review the distribution and retail structure and provide channel partners with personalized retail coverage and customized campaign support to help expand their business.”
Senior Director – Consumer Systems Products and Imaging Communication Business,
Leading printing and imaging solutions major Canon India has been redefining the equations in the Indian market. In a special interaction with SME Channels, C. Sukumaran, Senior Director – Consumer Systems Products and Imaging Communication Business, Canon India, reveals his organization’s strategy to address growing demand for printing and imaging solutions from customers, his predictions for the printing industry in 2022 and his vision and plans for the channel community. Edited excerpts…
In view of the pandemic and the current scenarios, what are the major market trends you would like to forecast for the running year?
The pandemic has brought about a fundamental change in customers’ usage patterns and has led to structural changes in the consumer purchasing journey. We, at Canon, believe it is imperative to constantly keep innovating to keep up with this evolving landscape. Our focus areas and marketing strategies are always in line with upcoming industry trends and new consumption patterns.
As the country has now opened with ease in COVID-19 relaxations, we have also resumed our retail expansion spree in the country to be available for our customers across all touchpoints. We recently opened one of our largest PIXMA Zones in Pune this month which offers specialized solutions and addresses varied printing needs. Additionally, we also opened the futuristic and experiential Image Square 4.0 in Jaipur, a one stop store for all kinds of photography needs, with a more curated approach of exhibiting the full line-up strategy and exclusive technical support for professional photographers.
When it comes to the printing segment, we continue to witness demand for home printers further proliferate the adoption of connected and cloud-enabled multifunction printers that are cost-effective and offer an all-in-one solution. The pandemic has also boosted new trends and an interesting correlation has emerged between social media filters and the resurgence of printed photographs. Thus, we foresee immense scope in the growth of photo printing with people picking it up as a hobby while spending more time at home.
On the camera front, we continue to see positive demand from OTT, Cinema, Preaching and Education segments, for high-end premium imaging products. To further strengthen our presence in the Cinema segment, we recently introduced an industry first ‘Cinema Excellence Suite’, launched in Mumbai. The suite will feature Canon’s extensive range of cinema imaging technology directly to cinematographers, DOPs, filmmakers, and production houses.
How is Canon empowering its partners to capitalize on the opportunities associated with its product portfolio?
Channel partners have always played a critical role in Canon’s success story. As one of our key stakeholders, they have enabled us to strengthen our foothold in the industry and reach out to a diverse range of customers. We have invested significantly through the years to develop a sound partner ecosystem that is spread across geographies.
At Canon, we believe in consistently working towards helping our channel partners build both scale and competencies in new technologies. We actively review the distribution and retail structure and provide channel partners with personalized retail coverage and customized campaign support to help expand their business. While we are ensuring easy and quick access to the latest Canon products and services for our consumers, we are also mindful of our channel partners’ profitability and long-term sustenance in the market. Therefore, we actively explore new business opportunities that help our channel partners expand their product portfolio.
The Canon Partner ecosystem has been infused with strong fundamentals and over the years, we have consistently nurtured the partner program which has grown to a strong network of 120+ distributors and 3500+ channel partners.
As Hybrid working takes over and as businesses adapt to the new market landscape, what should partners do to sustain growth? Which areas are you focusing on in the channel – skillsets, sales and marketing, vertical and technology practice development, service capability, etc.?
As businesses adapt to the new market landscape and customer requirements, channel partners and retailers must also address the conditions of the new world order. The key is to bridge the gap between online and offline sales channels which means retailers will have to adopt an ‘omnichannel approach’, combining both online and offline platforms while maintaining sustained customer connections to thrive in an extensively competitive landscape.
We have invested significantly in developing a sound partner ecosystem spread across geographies. Training sessions are organized for partners from time to time to help them better understand changing industry trends as well as to adapt to new realities. Engagements with our channel partners, both online and offline, help us understand their challenges and accordingly help devise solutions to address each of their challenges. For instance, we are helping partners set up Google Business Profiles accounts starting with Canon PIXMA Zones. This will help our partners have a digital identity and help consumers discover their products and services.
Please brief us on your flagship product/solutions which have good traction in the India market.
Small and medium businesses form the backbone of the Indian economy, and the pandemic has led them to invest in smart digital solutions to gain a competitive edge. We at Canon, understand the needs of small businesses and home offices and are constantly bringing forth innovative products that meet their changing needs. Our flagship PIXMA G-series printers are touted to be cost-efficient and come with reliable ink tank technology making them ideal for home and small businesses in India. Last year, we introduced PIXMA G570, PIXMA G670, imagePROGRAF PRO-300 and PIXMA PRO-200 with an objective to promote the photo printing culture in India.
On the camera front, our mirrorless segment has been doing exceptionally well in the Indian market equipped with the best-in-class technology. The game changers for this segment are the EOS R5 which comes with 8K video recording and the EOS R6, which is designed to give one optimum performance for low-light photography. Other than this, we most recently introduced the EOS R5 C, a mirrorless hybrid camera with the capabilities of Cinema EOS and the EOS R system and we are already witnessing great traction for it. Lastly, our special vlogging camera, the EOS M50 Mark II enabled with in-camera YouTube live streaming for real-time video engagement has really attracted the Indian audience as well. Hence, it is our continuous endeavor to keep divulging into new segments while introducing quality-driven products to delight our customers.
What’s your Channel Strategy for 2022? Any new channel initiative to pump fresh energy into the partner ecosystem?
India is a dynamic market with vast opportunities across regions. In order to consistently reach out to our customers across the length and breadth of the country, it is imperative to leverage every possible medium to market ourselves.
This year we will focus on expanding our partner ecosystem further with a special emphasis on micro-distribution and regional outreach. Our primary objective is to increase the availability of Canon products and genuine consumables across India in the foreseeable future with the help of our valued channel partners. Moving forward, we will ensure our presence on all platforms where our customers are present, aligning with our corporate motto of always ‘delighting our customers’.
Is there any channel expansion plan into Tier-III & IV cities to ensure better reach of your products and services?
In the next two years, regional penetration is one of our core focus areas as we want to make our products and services available in every corner of the country. So far, we have expanded our regional presence by opening 295+ Canon PIXMA Concept stores and 1500+ OIC Signature Stores across the country. We are actively working towards building a stronger base in Tier III and IV markets by expanding and strengthening our channel partner ecosystem to ensure hassle-free availability of our products and services for our customers.