I recently came across a Facebook discussion about an article on the Interwebs, that was effectively asking what features a specific brand should offer in order to increase its market share. The usual flurried mix of comical nonsense and useful insights followed 😊. This made me think about why it is that new brands (or existing brands toting new technologies) can sometimes have a hard time in this.
“Brand Loyalty” is something that indeed is an important factor, but its importance and reason for existing, at least in my opinion and experience, has little to do with the actual company, and a lot to do with the expectations and demands of the customer base. That customer base is in fact a very broad and very complex entity.
“Sony did it”, I hear you say. Indeed, but only after they acquired Minolta – a company with a long history and experience in the field. And a customer base that appreciated its products.
For full transparency, I am not a “Gear geek”. I happen to use Canon cameras and brand-related kit, because it met (for me) a certain set of requirements when I set out to make photography a source of income for myself. My business was based almost exclusively on “events” – mostly commercial things but also weddings. Though my original ‘choice’ of Canon was dictated many, many years ago by me receiving one as a gift, there were (and still are) several compelling reasons for me to stick with it.
- Optics. Very expensive items that are probably the one most critical component in the work flow. I have a small collection of pro-grade lenses that together represent a significant financial investment that I could not really justify “doing over”.
- Job-specific features. The “events” type of work puts great demands on the “camera response time”, often under low-light conditions. So, anything that contributes to “shutter delay” (like focus acquisition, …) is just “no”. The kit I have works well for this, and where it does not, I have learned to control its foibles well enough to get through. The requirements of other types of photography will most certainly be different, but equally imperative to the photographer.
- Trust. As a small jobbing photographer, you are only ever as good as your last gig. When on a job, the kit must work. Other manufacturers undoubtedly also make good, reliable kit, but am I sufficiently familiar with them to trust a reputation on? (And yes, I do have duplicate kit when on a job, before anyone asks…). It takes a while to build up such a relationship.
- User Interface. Over the years, one builds up a specific feeling for the tool – that is a camera – that you are using. Having to think twice about how to adjust this or that when on the job can mean you miss that critical shot, and in many cases the moment cannot be done over to let you capture it as needed (think “Wedding…”). The number of variables here may be small in practice, but it means reprogramming an instinct, which for me takes time and energy I’d probably prefer applying elsewhere.
So, if a new brand or technology is going to tempt me away from my current kit, It would have to be sufficiently compelling to surmount these