Ricoh President and CEO Noboru Akahane has announced that the Pentax and GR camera brands will undergo a dramatic restructuring that will mark the end of mass production. It will also end distributor relationships and go directly to the consumer.
Ahan says Ricoh Imaging will be “reborn” from April 1, 2022 and that it will build a new business structure for its camera brands that “enhance” each one through two major steps: a direct-to-consumer sales model and a shift away from mass production to “workshop-like” manufacturing. “.
Transforming direct sales to the consumer
Ricoh will shift its sales strategy away from the typical distributor model to a direct-to-consumer model with a heavy emphasis on “digital approaches.”
“We will move from network-centric selling through retail stores to online sales to improve the efficiency of business operations,” Akhan says. “In addition to our direct selling site, we will also develop direct managed malls in key markets to expand opportunities and opportunities for direct contact between Ricoh Imaging and customers.”
What is described here sounds very similar to how part of Leica’s sales strategy works. While Leica provides products through a typical distributor model, they maintain many limited edition pieces for sale directly through Leica stores. Ricoh seems ready to take this strategy to the extreme and will only make its products available online and through select first-party stores in a few locations.
Akhan believes that this method will allow the company to better understand the market and work on “optimal production” that is different from the traditional mass production and mass sales model.
“By connecting directly with customers, we aim to reflect customer opinions in manufacturing more than ever before and offer products that are more attractive to customers,” he says.
Giving up mass production in favor of ‘workshop-like’ manufacturing
Ricoh aims to create what Akhanah describes as a “co-creative community” between its clients and its production. Through cross-communication, he argues that the company will be better connected and therefore will be better able to serve its customers. The idea is to create a manufacturing process that takes place alongside the customer in a way he describes as “workshop-like”.
As part of this strategy, Pentax will expand the range of customizations it can make to its DSLR products. The details of these customizations have not been specified, but it appears that this means that a Pentax photographer will be able to work directly with the company to create a unique camera for their specific needs.
Akhan says the GR brand will continue to strive to become the best “snap shooter” and continue to “clearly differentiate itself from the spec competition” by improving the shot experience and making cameras that focus on high image-quality operability, portability, and portability.
“In order to connect directly with customers and create a fast-paced culture, we will focus on revitalizing the fan community through social media and interacting through offline events to strengthen two-way relationships,” he says.
betapixel I reached out to Ricoh USA for more details, but the company was unable to provide a response prior to publication.
The changes announced for Pentax and GR and other imaging brands, such as Theta, do not appear to have been included.
Image credits: Title image licensed via Depositphotos.