Not Just About the Product
Raj Lalwani explains how making a great product is not good enough anymore, as companies have to lay equal emphasis on service and consumer experience.
Some years ago, a good camera or lens would almost always ensure that the company enjoys success. Photography manufacturers would not bother about too many other things, and would only concentrate on the actual product. Fast forward to 2012, and we can see that the scenario has changed by a large degree now. Quality is still paramount, but companies in India are slowly realising the importance of good service.
Getting Your Money’s Worth
Think about it. When a consumer is spending thousands of rupees to buy a DSLR, he obviously needs to have some assurance that his investment is worth the money. After all, if something goes wrong with the camera, he would want a lifeline or a support system whom he can rely on. This support system involves a number of levels. Firstly, the company ought to have a sizeable presence in India. A number of manufacturers have not set base in India yet, which is why you can only buy their products in the grey market. Others, who are present, have outlets only in 1-2 cities. This makes it extremely cumbersome for a layman living in a remote area to get his camera serviced. Camera companies have taken note of this recently and have started opening authorised dealers and service outlets in different cities. While this is commendable, we still have a long way to go.
Technology is Up There
The reason why service can influence a buying decision is the fact that today, most cameras are pretty much on par, when it comes to technology. Of course, there may be a Nikon camera that may be better at a particular thing, or a Canon or Olympus model that shines in its own right, but at the end of the day, the difference of quality between different companies is not as stark as it used to be. In such a scenario, there are two main things that a user looks for—better value for money and better service. Competition has caused many companies to lower prices, but recently, they have also started concentrating on service.
Learning from Abroad
That said, the service ethic in India is still in an infantile stage. We have reached a stage that USA and Japan were at years ago. For instance, Nikon Professional Services (NPS) is something that has been used by professionals around the world for several years. However, it is only now that the company has introduced the same service for the Indian market. Whether it will gain popularity or not depends on whether the company continues its newfound efforts in this sphere.
All About the Experience
It is not just about the service. As exhibitions and trade fairs become more popular, manufacturers have gone all out to enrich the consumer experience. Do you want to see how a waterproof camera works? You will probably be able to remove it from a fish bowl! Earlier, photographers needed to research equipment on the Internet, but now they can try it out for themselves to fi gure out the subtle nuances of how a product works. After photokina and CES, the touch-and-feel phenomenon has become really popular throughout the world. With trade shows like the Gujarat Photo Video Trade Fair, the Indian consumer gets a similar experience.