Kodak reminds the consumers of the small yellow boxes of film. The consumer doesn’t perceive the latest digital technologies when he sees the image of Kodak. It is because Kodak had too much success in the era of the non-digital photography market. Its success began to become its failure. As Kodak is so successful with its own formula, it was dithery in its decision to enter the digital market, though it knows the whole world is going digital.
Kodak’s persistence with conventional market
Kodak entered the digital market in 1995 with the creation of the Kodak Digital Science brand. However, Kodak, never wanting to leave its niche segment of the non-digital market, invested heavily on a brand called Kodak Advantix System. Kodak Advatix System, with the internal technology name Advanced Photo System, gave many advantages to the consumer including three different print formats. These Advantix cameras and films were very expensive. Furthermore, there were distribution problems and there were not enough places where the Advantix films could get processed. Al Ries questioned Kodak’s decision to invest so heavily in conventional photography at the time when the whole world is going digital. Kodak has a problem, it doesn’t want its successful brand to die. Kodak failed to make a mark with its Advantix camera and people went digital.
Kodak – the brand that is not digital
Kodak is perceived as a leader in conventional photography market, but when it comes to the digital photography market consumers feel Canon, and Sony are better associated with the digital market. Kodak’s brand perception is not in sync with the digital market. Sometimes when you are very good in a category, people don’t accept you in other categories. It also has to do with Kodak never leaving its conventional market and taking a safe approach of keeping one foot in conventional market and one in the digital market. But, sometimes people perceive of what you are doing with your other foot too.
Should Kodak come up with a new brand for its digital market ?
There are two problems that Kodak faces: Firstly, the technology has changed and it has to keep up with it and Secondly, it wants to leverage upon its Kodak 100 year brand. I say this is a unique problem, because if you observe carefully the second point hinders the growth of the first. Kodak is so successful with conventional photography that people associate it with film photography. So, if you use this brand to project your digital technology, it may not be effective. At the same time, Kodak doesn’t want to leave this brand altogether because it wants to bank upon its brand equity and brand value. I feel, though this decision is difficult, Kodak should create a new pseudo-brand for its digital market. Because, it is going to be very difficult to change the perception of the consumers and Kodak will need to do a lot of unlearning in the consumers mind, which is very difficult and sometimes impossible. So, the better bet is to create a pseudo brand for its digital technology, because people think Kodak doesn’t think digital.
Yes, Kodak should create a new brand for its digital market.