Sales and Marketing Director, B2C Business, Canon Central and North Africa, Mr. Amine Djouahra, in this interview speaks about the future of camera business globally, especially with the emergence of smartphones. Emma Okonji brings the excerpts:
Camera business in Nigeria and globally is being challenged by the emergence of mobile phones. So looking at the Canon camera business in Nigeria and globally, what picture do you see?
Well, there are two ways to look at this trend. On one side, we can say that camera sales are going down, but on the other side we can say picture consumption is growing. So it means that in the past, those who had access to camera and could buy $1,000 camera. But today, almost everybody has access to smartphones with good camera and high quality pixel. Now it’s up to the manufacturer to show what is the limitation of that smartphone and to convert a percentage of these customers who are clicking pictures, because on our daily life, we see people posting pictures throughout their day. So at certain moment, some of them will develop that interest into photography and would like to go further whether into professional or more into enthusiasts and amateur but keen for very high quality and that is cannons role to be a part of that transition. This is because no matter what, the smartphone cannot give you the quality of pictures that premium compact camera can give you.
What is the volume of sales for canon products in Nigeria, in relation to printers and cameras?
I will start by saying that we are enjoying a leading market position when it comes to camera business in Nigeria. You can notice our leadership position in products when you go into the market and see how strong Cannon official products are presented. Since we started in 2016, we had not only experienced a double digit growth year-on-year, but we have also experienced more than 10-20 per cent growth year-on-year for both cameras and printers. Now when it comes to camera, I would say we are strongly dominating the market and when it comes to the printing business for the refill tank, we are also leading this segment, and I think we offer the best product in the market today.
What is your market share and sales target for 2019?
I will start by giving you our corporate philosophy, which is all about working and living for the common good. So our target is not only about business, our target goes beyond business, because we believe that as a leading brand, we should give back to the community. And for that, we have a unique programme that supports people who do not have educational background or who do not have a job, and we take them through a clear certification in photography or videography, and allow them to run their own business and to have a decent life for them and their families, and we are so proud that today in Nigeria after the few years where we launched this special programme, we have trained more than one thousand people. Today many of these people are participating in international competitions and they are recognised by international institutions and they are running their own business. So beyond the fact that as a manufacturer in imaging industry, we would like to improve the daily lives of our Nigerian customers. We want also to go beyond that, and support people to develop their skills, because we believe in Nigerians and their tech savvy skills. Today we speak a lot about Nollywood, we believe that the future of Nollywood will be brighter and brighter, so we would like to be the strong partner who will help these Nigerian future professionals to shine and to export the Nigerian culture and showcase Nigerian daily lives through photography and videography.
Which market is your biggest market for camera and printers in Africa?
For the territory that we handle, which is 44 countries except South Africa, and the surrounding countries, Nigeria is our biggest market in cameras and printers.
What was your focus and target for the road show in the Canon Discovery Week?
So the focus of the road show is meet, engage and learn. In several ways, we always like to meet our customers, and we like our customers to meet our team members and our experts. We like to engage and hear from them and learn from them, and in we will in turn, like them to experience new technologies from Canon, the reason being that many Nigerians are already owning cameras and printers. But sometimes they are not taking 100 per cent benefit of the products. So that’s why we would like our experts, like our certified trainers to engage with them and show them all what they can do with that products and all what our new product can do for them. So, it is very important for us that we go closer to the customers and we break this kind of perception that we are just manufacturer supplying goods. We want to let customers know that we are brand that supports the daily business and the daily lives of our Nigerian customers.
In one of your bouquet of products, there were African photos shot from different African countries, which shows how Canon is telling the African story to be able to sell the African market. What drives this initiative?
We started in Nigeria in 2016 and I came to Nigeria for the first time in March 2016, and since March 2016 to March 2019, I have been coming every month, sometimes even twice or three times a month. Together with my team, we have been going to places like Owerri, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Kaduna, Abuja, among other places. So for simple reason, we came to learn, and we have an expertise when it comes to digital imaging but we would like to learn what works for Nigeria, what are the needs of Nigerians. So when we started in 2016, we had to fix up our distribution, because Nigerians were saying they don’t know where to buy genuine Canon products. We also had to fix our warranty and service centre because people were asking for warranty on our products.
And then we started doing surveys, we came up with a campaign called ‘My Canon My Naija’ because we wanted to identify with the Nigerian market and to prove a point that Cannon was not just coming to do business in Nigeria, but to invest in Nigeria and help grow the Nigerian imaging market. In the process, we appointed 14 members and we opened our office in 2016 in Nigeria, and today we are so happy to say that there are 14 Nigerians that work in our Nigerian office.
So in order to identify more with the African markets where we operate, we decided to come up with local contents and we had partnership with Nigerians like T.Y Bello, Kunle Afolayan, among others to ensure that we add local content to our line of production that will appeal to the Nigerian and African audience.
So what are Canon investments in Nigeria and what does the future holds for Canon products in Nigeria?
Well, there has been a lot of investments and partnerships in Nigeria, thereby building strong network of partners, investing in service centres to give the highest level of service to customers. In our products, there are different service levels. For example, a printer is a basic service, but when it comes to lens or camera, there are premium tools which are required to give that service. So that is why we invested a lot to have the highest level of service centre in the African continent and in Nigerian. We have invested in a lot of campaigns, we have invested in a lot of activities. I can say that there are investments that we have done, which cannot be valued with any number. The first one is opening a local rep office, when all other brands were closing offices in 2016, and that was when Nigeria was going through recession, when naira moved from N200 to N520 per dollar. I remembered at that time when we were opening our office and people were surprised at our courage to open office when other brands were closing offices as a result of the recession then. So, we started by hiring local people, and we started with one person and after three years we have 14 people spread across Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt to make sure that we give the best service to Nigerians throughout all the 36 states. Beyond that, we have had a number of workshops where we have trained people who were not having any educational background, which allowed them to enter into a field of professional photography, and videography. The training the received has made them self-employed and self-dependent. There are still much more investments to be done and we believe we can still expand our investment into more states. So it has been an exciting years for Canon doing business in Nigeria and other African countries.