As much as photographers love Fuji cameras they seem to hate the service provided by Fujifilm India.
At the centre of the love-hate relationship is Fuji’s flagship X-series that veteran photographers cannot stop raving about. This year has been busy for the Japan-based company. In July, they launched the X-T2, an upgrade on their X-T1, a high-end camera. A few months earlier the company has also released the new and awaited XPro2.
“The X series was first introduced in March 2011 and is now the most widely accepted mirrorless camera worldwide,” Fujifilm India MD Yasunobu Nishiyama reportedly said at the launch. “In India too, the mirrorless camera segment has been growing continuously which is the reason why we see so much scope in the mirrorless camera market.”
In terms of market share Fuji lags way behind the industry leaders the Japanese Nikon and Canon. Fujifilm India declined to share data about sales, but they are known to occupy a niche market. However, the company does not seem to have figured out if their primary market is the mass of amateur photographers who buy lower-end cameras or an elite class of professional photographers.
Their unimaginative marketing and sales campaign, combined with inefficient after-sales servicing and the failure to truly engage the professional photography community has prevented Fuji India from realizing its full potential in India.
Sephi Bergerson at SILK Photos is himself a devoted user of the X-Series. When he got his hands of the X-T2 on a recent trip to Thailand Bergerson tweeted:
“First time shooting with the @Fujifilm_India XT2! OMG, I’m in love!!!”
One of the reasons that Sephi got his X T2 from Thailand is the reason why many photographers are not purchasing Fuji cameras in India. Fuji cameras don’t appear in the Indian market till much after their global launch and are priced more than almost anywhere else in the world.
While the X T2 was launched in July it has only become available in India starting December. Photographers also complain that Fuji dealers are perpetually understocked. Fujifilm India said it has received a positive response from professional photographers for the TX2 but are yet to get stock to fulfill even the advance orders.
There is hardly any product awareness comparable to what happens in foreign markets, according to Chenthil Mohan, the first prize winner at the SILK AWARDS 2016. In the fast-paced electronics market, a delayed launch can prove disastrous for a product. It seems pointless to push a device into a market when an upgraded version is already available.
Pricing is another issue. Fuji cameras in India can cost as much as 30 percent more than its price in other countries. Sayantan Dutta, Product Manager of X-Series at Fujifilm India, defended their pricing model saying that pricing is based on numbers. If the sales number is not very high, they have to earn more from every sale, and this is why Fuji cameras are not competitively-priced compared to Canon or Nikon. He also blamed India’s burdensome taxation for the higher prices.
The sale of a camera is like the sale of any heavy-duty electronic item it requires reliable customer support. Chenthil says that with other companies are much better at supporting owners. For the photographer who says he spends around USD 5000 on cameras and equipment every year the poor servicing is a sour point. “It’s like buying a Mercedes Benz and feeling shitty afterwards,” he said of owning a Fuji.
For Mahesh Shantaram, a Bangalore-based independent photographer who also served as a panelist at SILK INSPIRE 2016, pricing is not an issue and he has never relied on the company for after-sales servicing. His problem is the way they have alienated from the professional photographer community.
In its early days Mahesh worked with the Fuji India team to present the X-series as a serious camera, but in recent years he has found that the marketing team at Fuji India has failed to engage with the photography community. “The team at Fuji India does not understand its own product,” he said. He believes that the Fuji X-series cameras are unique and can do things that other cameras cannot. This means the cameras are put to their best use in the hands of professional photographers who can truly experiment with it. The marketing team is more focused on selling low-end cameras rather than on professional-grade cameras, according to Mahesh.
The difference between how Fuji operates in India and elsewhere in the world is stark. In India, Sony is the last entrant into the market and has aggressively promoted its products among professional and amateur photographers. One wonders what Fuji India would be if it had Fuji’s camera and the marketing network of Sony.
Share your experiences with a Fuji, what do you love, what do you hate, what drives you completely nuts.