Welcome to Influencers, our annual series that speaks with the heads of retailers, suppliers and industry bodies to find out what is happening in appliances and electronics and how different companies are shaping its future.

Today we visit with Jason McLean, Director – Consumer Imaging, Canon Australia. He says potential for sales growth rests with focusing on how consumers interact and relate to products and technology.

Jason McLean
Passion for imaging: Jason McLean.

How has the first half of 2014 been for your business?

We’ve had an outstanding first half, coming off the back of very strong pre- and post-Christmas sales. Our strategy of investing heavily in retail support, cashback promotions and 2-year local warranty has focused consumers squarely on the local market and ensured that they could find unprecedented value in-store.

Our retailers embraced this, as did shoppers. We achieved strong share growth for the year and Canon drove local shopper interest in the critical December period, resulting in significant sales growth ahead of the market. This momentum and our market investments have continued into 2014.

What are your predictions for the second half of the year?

We believe there’s huge growth potential if the industry focuses on the consumer experience. At Canon, the consumer experience is central to everything we do: inspiring people to do more with imaging than they ever thought possible. The good news is that the passion for imaging in society continues to grow and develop and the appetite for DSLR cameras has no end in sight. This is important to note as DSLR is the growth centre in the total photo market.

Laying the way for growth is our competitive product range and investment in local marketing platforms to stimulate interest in powerful photography. Taking a category leadership role, we launched Canon Shine in April. A national platform aimed at building a movement of powerful image taking, Shine has achieved mass awareness for the photo category a time when smartphone photography and life-logging in social media are diluting the power of photographs to make an impact.

As a business, we’ve also taken major steps this year to set ourselves up for future growth, including the move to a purpose-built HQ in Macquarie Park and changes to our operations to make us more efficient. The benefits of these actions will play out in the second half.

What opportunities do you see for the electrical retailing industry?

Creating consumer experiences and providing outstanding service and support at retail are key. The passion we’re seeing to take better, more creative images and print and display them in new and exciting ways is a strong reminder of what people want.

People recognise the power of a quality camera kit and the range of creative possibilities. The successes of our retailers who have sold the benefits of the complete Canon ‘system’ based on the consumer experience have contributed to strong growth in DSLR cameras and accessories so far this year. The appetite for DSLR and powerful and connected compact cameras presents massive growth potential in the camera category.

What threats are currently present in the industry?

If we don’t put consumer needs first, particularly in the retail environment, then we end up pushing them to other options and not having them return. Understanding their needs, on the other hand, leads to opportunities to inspire them around the full possibilities of the imaging category.

Growth comes from selling the complete solution: a camera, lenses, printing, archival and display options. If we don’t inspire and awaken consumers to the possibilities, we run the risk of losing relevance in their imaging lifestyle.

What is your favourite product of 2014 so far?

I’m proud of the whole 2014 range as it provides quality imaging options to suit people’s lifestyles across all segments. The new PowerShot G1X MKII is a great example. It’s a compact camera with DSLR-like performance due to a massive 1.5-inch CMOS sensor, fast Digic 6 processer and an amazing 24-120 F2-3.9 lens with Optical Image Stabiliser.

Canon PowerShot G1X MkII
Canon PowerShot G1X MKII.

To read the full series right now, pick up the July issue of Appliance Retailer magazine.