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The Fujifilm Effect – How the Brand Overcame Its Sales Challenges

by Rahil M
0 comment

Fujifilm increased its efforts in producing vaccines and antiviral medications during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the cameras have brought the company back into the public eye.

Japan’s Fujifilm shifted its attention for many years from its traditional camera industry to the field of healthcare. However, the TikTok community has played a major role in the popularity of its retro-themed X100 digital cameras, which has increased company revenue.

The $1,599 camera, which is highly covered by the young, in their twenties social media enthusiasts for its sophisticated features, is becoming harder for Fujifilm to provide.

The imaging division, which includes cameras, was the largest contributor to the company’s record-high earnings in the fiscal year that concluded in March due to the X100V model’s immense popularity. In the fiscal year 2023, the division accounted for 37% of operating profit, up from 27% in the previous year.

According to Yujiro Igarashi, manager of Fujifilm’s professional imaging group, the company doubled the launch volume for the VI, which made its debut in March, by increasing production in China after it sold out the previous year. He refused to comment on the rise in output or the number of units sold.

Igarashi stated, “We discovered that the orders far exceeded our forecast.”

When Fujifilm was founded ninety years ago, it had to fight for decades against Kodak, the leader of the film business, before finally surpassing it in sales in 2001. However, the victory was fleeting, as the film industry quickly imploded and digital cameras were integrated into mobile phones as standard features.

In order to survive, Fujifilm moved into healthcare applications by using its experience with film chemicals; local rivals Canon and Olympus also took this approach. Although it didn’t give up on its cameras, Fujifilm shifted the majority of its production to China the following year and eliminated 5,000 positions from its film sector.

Fujifilm increased its efforts in producing vaccines and antiviral medications during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the cameras have brought the company back into the public eye.

While operating profits in the sector are forecast to decline by 1.9%, the company projects imaging sales growth to drop to 2.2% in the fiscal year 2024 from 14.5%. Analysts say these estimates are conservative at best.

“We see downside risk to guidance for healthcare and business innovation, but major upside for imaging,” Masahiro Nakanomyo, an analyst at Jefferies, stated in a June 6 report.

Although the X100 was created in 2011 in an effort to save Fujifilm’s professional-grade camera division, many who are passionate about cameras claim that the camera’s appeal is mostly nostalgic.

Demand for cameras surged when travel resumed following the pandemic and influencers on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms elevated the X100 to a status symbol.

Availability is still an issue.

On auction sites, used X100s fetch prices several times more than their list price, and enthusiasts can post messages on internet forums while they wait for their purchases.

Teiichi Goto, the CEO of Fujifilm, made a suggestion last month that he was content to maintain a limited supply, citing the Leica brand of cameras from Germany as an example of how to maintain premium value.

Goto stated, “It would be quite unfortunate to manufacture too much and lower the price,” on May 9 during the company’s year-end earnings presentation.

However, influencer Lee stated that shoppers would turn to rivals like Ricoh’s GR series and Canon’s G7X due to the lengthy waitlists and high costs. Ricoh also said this week that the Pentax 17, its first film camera in around 20 years, would be available.

Production levels are a barrier, but the imaging group manager Igarashi pointed out that the X100’s design and complexity make large-scale manufacturing challenging.

“We’re trying really hard to increase the number of people, the number of production lines, and so on, but it’s not taking off as quickly as you would think,” he stated.

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