Case Study 6.2: Who Are You with Nikon?

Introduction

Nikon has been incredibly successful in the digital SLR category. However, it was steadily losing ground when it came to compact cameras. Hence, Nikon launched a competition encouraging people to share and promote their photos on social media platforms.

History

In 1917, three leading optical manufacturers merged to form an optical company called Nippon Kogaku K.K.56 The company manufactured a variety of products using optical lenses. Nippon Kogaku K.K. experienced turbulent times after World War II, but eventually regained its footing and went on to produce the highly popular and well-respected line of Nikon cameras. In fact, the company was renamed after the cameras in 1988, becoming the Nikon Corporation.

In 1991, as a research project for NASA, Nikon helped build some of the first digital single-lens reflex (D-SLR) cameras. By 1999, Nikon was building its own D-SLR camera for consumers. A D-SLR camera enables the user to see an accurate representation of what the lens picks up, takes high-resolution pictures, and can handle a variety of lenses, including wide-angle and telephoto. Up though the mid-2000s, Canon D-SLRs used larger light sensors and hence produced better quality pictures than equivalent Nikon models. However, in late 2007, Nikon introduced a powerful new series of D-SLRs, regaining “much of its reputation among professional and amateur enthusiast photographers as a leading innovator in the field, especially because of the speed, ergonomics, and low-light performance of its latest models.”

Challenge

Despite having 35% of the D-SLR market, the Nikon brand had just 8% of the EU compact sector, and in some markets the situation was even worse. The challenge was to drive sales of compact cameras while also not alienating the core D-SLR consumer base.

The insight was that Nikon was perceived as a conservative brand. Consumers knew the company made high-quality products for the professional market, and as a result they thought Nikon’s compacts would be too expensive.

The brand’s success in the professional market was actually isolating them from the more casual consumer. The brand was regarded as old-fashioned and unapproachable. Rival technology brands such as Panasonic and Sony, as well as Nikon’s key competitor Canon, all performed much stronger than Nikon both in terms of brand awareness and brand perception metrics.

Strategy

If Nikon wanted to perform as well in the compact sector as it did in the D-SLR segment, it would have to build an emotional connection with the brand that could run alongside the respect it generated among more serious photographers.

The first insight was that technology has democratized photography. A cheap camera phone suffices to make someone a photographer.

The second insight was that photography now plays a much more important role in people’s lives thanks to the ease of sharing. Digital platforms have made photography more social than ever before. A major reason for taking pictures is now to share them with friends and family.

This insight was applicable to both the serious amateur who posts creative work on Flickr to receive peer recognition and the social recorder who posts on Facebook to generate ‘likes.’ The bottom line was that a key motivation for taking pictures was the ability to share online.

Establishing a presence in social media

The campaign strategy used this understanding to create a more emotional connection with both target groups. Nikon would incentivize sharing, encourage it, and inspire it.

For the first time, the brand would have a presence in social media with dedicated spaces populated by the two target groups: Flickr for the serious hobbyist D-SLR market and Facebook to reach out to social photographers. Nikon would provide the platforms to let both groups of consumers show who they were.

Nikon would be the first photography brand to really come to grips with the social media space—a democratic platform for an art form that had become democratic through the encouragement of all consumers to be truly creative.

Nikon would not set any barriers to participation in the “Who are you with Nikon?” contest. All the participant needed was a camera or a camera phone, and the winners would be selected for their ability to meet the brief, not for light metering or composition.

‘I AM NIKON’

‘I AM NIKON’ pages were set up on Flickr and Facebook, using ads to drive traffic to the pages and to swell the numbers in the respective groups.

Simple questions such as, “What camera do you own?” were used to build interaction with the sites. Regular updates included tips on how to take better pictures and new product launches. The pages ran in six European markets and were moderated with an agreeable tone of voice (more serious on Flickr and more playful, without losing an authoritative edge, on Facebook).

Once the groups were large enough, Nikon launched “WHO ARE YOU WITH NIKON” competitions on both platforms. Every Friday, Nikon created massively popular showcases highlighting the best work on both sites.

On Flickr, since the more serious target audience liked a challenge, the brand set specific tasks. A dedicated microsite was created by Yahoo to house the competition, and advertising was used to drive more traffic to the “I AM NIKON” Flickr page.

Results

The campaign successfully brought the more emotional, creative attributes of Nikon to the fore.

On the Facebook page, users have uploaded nearly 80,000 photos. On Flickr the Nikon community, is already in the top 2% in terms of group size, with more than 8,500 members. Members have now contributed nearly 80,000 photos, with 200 more added each day.

Nikon’s share of the compact camera market has doubled in its six key markets.

Today, Nikon is one of the biggest brand groups on Flickr, with almost 60,000 members and over 2 million photos uploaded. Its Nikon Digital Learning Center provides Flickr members with help on taking better pictures through its useful tutorials and a discussion board, where professional photographers and enthusiasts answer questions and offer advice on such topics as the best lens to use and lighting tips. In addition, members upload their Nikon photos and tag them. The catchphrase, “Nikon is doing more to make picture taking easier (and fun) for everyone,” succinctly sums up why this brand is doing so well on Flickr.