German camera maker Leica has become a key brand for professionals and serious camera users. In 2006, it surprised the market by releasing the M8 - a rangefinder digital camera that gave it a presence in the compact digital market - and the brand moved into a new segment.
"Leica made more digital cameras because it wanted to target new customers," says Jackie Chan, president of Schmidt Marketing (Asia), Leica's sole distributor in China, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. "Our base target customers were professional photographers who seek high product quality and performance, serious amateurs who want quality performance for leisure purposes and collectors who see an investment value in high-quality cameras."
Chan says the M8 has given rise to status seekers who want to enhance their image through prestigious brands. "Maybe they are not good photographers, but they want to make an impression."
He asserts that this is driven, at least in part, by celebrities and movie stars using the M8 model and this has defined new marketing strategies. Schmidt Marketing (HK) is recruiting a marketing manager to oversee three executives who respectively focus on public relations, media relations and brand building.
The company's advertising has focused on glossy luxury media that target high-income groups, and magazines for trendy youngsters who aspire towards a luxury life. With flagship stores in the city selling the cameras through dealers, the company isn't recruiting salespeople for its compact digital selection. Instead, it is focusing on marketing activities that lure people to stores.
Chan says the main difference between these marketers and previous ones is that while they need to have product knowledge and traditional marketing skills, they also need to be innovative in planning new strategies and active in social media to understand market trends.
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