Campaign Asia met up with Edmond Wong, deputy marketing director of Olympus Hong Kong and China at the brand's Langham Place office. He unveiled his vision and perspective for the Olympus brand, in light of the heavy competition from the two giants.
Wong — who had previously only ever used a basic compact camera — joined Olympus five years ago. Previously, he had worked with NEC Computers for a decade.
Wong gave an honest and candid account of how the digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera market used to be dominated by Canon and Nikon. Their long history had helped to build strong brand affinities with professional photographers and journalists. In fact, the use of these two brands are still often seen as adding to their professional credentials.
The Olympus Pen broke this mentality, Wong says. When other DSLR cameras were typically bulky, the new series of Pen cameras, including the Pen E-P1, offered the same technology in an easier to use and carry package. Olympus launched the Pen E-P1 'Simple' campaign in 2010 and has since followed up with the 'Respect' campaign for the Pen E-P3 this year. Wong says the E-P3 is lighter than other cameras but maintains a good picture quality. He says it has successfully became a ‘fashion icon’ among youth and professional photo buffs.
Working closely with long-term ad agency partner Turn, Wong has geared the Pen campaigns to now focus on the fun of photo-taking.
Wong said in his previous career with NEC, he felt that the computer industry competed mainly on pricing strategies, as there was not much differentiation among various brands. “Other electronic goods often focus on the product features in their ad campaigns, which can be very short-term,” Wong pointed out.
Conversely, Wong says the tone and manner of the Pen campaigns aims to be consistent across products — "Olympus produces cameras that everyone can use with ease, and enjoy the fun of photography while taking beautiful pictures," he says.
The ads use children, teenagers, and ordinary people with distinctive characters and features, each using Pen cameras. They aim to show the cameras as lightweight, personal, and fashionable.
Wong says Olympus's short term goal is to cement itself in the number three position of the worldwide camera market. He says Canon and Nikon each hold around 30 per cent market share each, while the remainder is shared largely between the next five players: Olympus, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and Lumix.
Olympus is a Japanese company that was set up 90 years ago, dealing largely with microscopes at that time. It now has two key business areas, camera consumer products and medical equipment, especially endoscopes, which Olympus is currently dominating the world market in.
The company’s philosophy is using optical technology to pursue benefits for society - in particular the enjoyment and fun that cameras can bring.
“Our hope is to enable everyone to easily enjoy the fun of photography and produce cameras that are both handy and can take high-quality pictures,” Wong said.
Olympus is currently competing closely with Sony for that coveted number three position. Wong acknowledges that Sony has a diversifying product range with TV, games, movies, digital cameras, and printers. He says it also has a well-recognised brand and a strong consumer perception.
“However their weakness is also this (advantage) - because they have too many products and are not very focused (on one area such as cameras)," he said. "The downside for Olympus is also our strength – that we are very focused,” he said.
“If the company is big, if one product does not work, they can shift to other products, and easily give up," he said. "For us, we cannot give up, we have no ground to move from.”
Edmund Wong: CV
July 2006 - present Deputy marketing director, imaging business division,
Olympus Hong Kong & China Ltd
1996 - July 2006 Manager, computers product, NEC Hong Kong Ltd