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 user 2009-11-10 at 11:07:12 am Views: 95
  • #22903

    The Canon Brand Goes
    From Zero to Hero all with the Help of Some Clever Advertising and HP.
    Canon brand has been growing stronger year by year. Liew Sip Chon,
    President & CEO of Canon Marketing (Malaysia) shares how Canon built
    its brand from a mere trading arm to a world renowned name. The year
    2009, the recession year. This very same year, Canon ranks number one in
    Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands (Malaysia) in the camera and
    multi-function printer/copier category. They ranked number three in
    Asia’a Top 1000 Brands. Ranked number 3 in BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable
    Global Brands 2009, which according to their findings say the value of
    the top 100 brands increased by 2 percent to $2 trillion.

    the Canon brand in a nut shell. More precisely, that’s the Canon brand
    in a year of an economic turmoil.Before Canon Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd was
    formed, Canon was under the trading arm of Mulpha Trading. “As a part of
    Mulpha, we were not the brand owner. And if you are not the brand
    owner, your objective is just to make profit. So you do optimum sales
    for maximum profit.”It was only until Canon Marketing Malaysia was set
    up, that the whole direction of Canon changed. “Our objective is no
    longer just profit as that sort of formula is shortsighted. As the
    marketing arm, one of our objectives is to drive high market share and,
    according to economies of scale, ultimately profit will follow.”Liew,
    who was then Area Sales Executive, knew that if the business was to
    grow, it had to be developed into more than just trading. He knew Canon
    needed to be turned into a brand. “When Canon Marketing started in
    January 1987, we started to invest heavily in Advertising and Promotion
    (A&P), and till today we continue to do so. In good times or bad we
    continue to invest annually, on average 5% to 7% of our turnover.”

    decision that catapulted Canon from zero to hero
    Canon’s road to
    brand-fame was paved with one word, ‘Printers’. When Canon introduced
    their Ink Jet printers back in the year 1991, there was no market for
    the Ink Jet printers. The printer market only consisted of laser and dot
    matrix printers. The Laser Printer market was dominated by Hewlett
    Packard (HP) with a 70% market share, while Dot Matrix was dominated by
    NEC, the market leader, followed by Epson and Panasonic.“When we
    introduced Ink Jet printers, it was completely new to the industry.
    Consumers had never heard of Ink Jet printers, so we had the task of
    promoting a new product from scratch. In addition we had to compete with
    two giant players in the printing industry, HP and NEC.”

    began to market their printers through print advertisements. However the
    public was not convinced as Ink Jet had higher running costs than
    Laser, while Laser produced better quality output than Ink Jet. In
    comparison to Dot Matrix, Ink Jet gave better results but Dot Matrix was
    able to print carbon copies. Due to these facts, consumers felt there
    was no real use of an Ink Jet printer. Ink Jet printers also sat on the
    premium price scale. Canon received no support from dealers either. As
    many dealers had never heard of Ink Jet printers, they did not want to
    bear the risk of promoting a product that had no demand.

    then decided it was time to educate consumers about their new Ink Jet
    printers. “So we created an education program which we sold through
    posters. The posters read, ‘The 10 most commonly asked questions about
    Canon Bubble Jet Printers’.”Even with the education program, dealers
    were still not keen on stocking up Canon’s printers. This was when Canon
    introduced their retail programme. They designed a display stand that
    could fit all four printer models which valued at a total of RM10,000.
    “So we told the dealer, all you need to do is display this product and
    we will give you a 20% discount every quarterly. Over a period of one
    year, you would have gotten an 80% discount, which means your total
    investment is only 20%. Dealers bought this idea and they began to
    position the display stands stocked with Canon’s printers side by side
    with Canon’s education poster.”The next step Canon took was what killed
    their competition and brought them tremendous amount of publicity. Canon
    ran seven consecutive advertisement pages in, what was then, the
    leading computer industry publication, Computimes.  “During the 1990s,
    Computimes was popularised because we spent so much money with them. We
    knew industry players and consumer will always read Computimes, so we
    put all our money on that paper.”The print ads featured all printers in
    Canon’s range, from the lowest priced to premium printers.  “Till today I
    think it is a record. No other company has run that many ads at one
    time. Seven consecutive colour pages starting from page three.”He added,
    “After those ads, dealers such as SIS and INGRAM who, previously, were
    not interested in dealing with us, suddenly were approaching us for our

    Canon brings their dreams to life
    When Canon
    launched their first colour Ink Jet printer in the year 1993, they
    received encouraging response from dealers and the press. They have
    Liew’s favourite ad campaign to thank for that.“It just struck me one
    day. When we dream, are those imageries in colour or black and white?”
    It was this thought which led them to the tagline ‘Do You Dream in
    Colour?’ The tagline inspired a whole range of initiatives for the
    branding campaign including print ads and also a 10 minute musical.The
    ‘Do You Dream in Colour’ campaign created a phenomenal wave of publicity
    for Canon leading to exceptional business growth. After the launch of
    their first Ink Jet printer, in the year 1992, Canon produced only 5000
    units of printers. By 1993, that figure more than doubled, and in 1994
    they were manufacturing 40,000 units. By their fourth year the figure
    increased to 70,000 and by the fifth year, their printers exceeded
    100,000 pieces. Today Canon sells, on average, close to about 40,000
    printers a month.For almost one and a half decades, Canon has
    continuously out spent their competitors in terms of marketing. “Because
    of our high ad expenditure, it is very hard for the next brand to break
    into the market. It is the moment we stop advertising that we may have a
    problem because there are always new brands entering the market and we
    have to continue to attract consumers.”Their branding initiatives also
    brought another notable achievement, the synonymity of the name Ink Jet
    with Bubble Jet. “Malaysia is the only country where consumers refer to
    Ink Jet printers as Bubble Jet printers, when Bubble Jet is actually the
    brand name of Canon’s Ink Jet printers. It was our aim to build the
    name Ink Jet synonymous with Bubble and it took is approximately seven
    years to achieve that branding status.”

    From Great Products to
    Exceptional Service
    After years of branding and positioning
    themselves as the top brand for cameras and office equipment, today
    Canon’s key message is reflected in their tagline, ‘Delighting You
    Always’. They call it the CD project, Customer Delight that is, a
    project running for the last five years.“Customer service is our prime
    consideration now and that’s why our tagline is focused on the service
    level. We even set up a committee in our organisation, called the CD
    committee, to look into all aspect of improving Customer Service.”

    also conducts regular surveys to ensure the quality of its service is
    consistent and ahead of its competitors. “The surveyors act as mystery
    callers, calling the top 10 brands in our category. When we did the
    first survey to check if our helpdesk people were friendly, informative,
    knowledgeable, etc, we came out fourth out of the 10.”It was after this
    first survey that Canon started the CD programme. Nine months later,
    they conducted the second survey and immediately shot to number one.
    Since then, Canon has been conducting customer service surveys every
    nine months, with a total of six surveys to-date. And they have been
    number one ever since, staying ahead of their competition by a
    commendable margin, prides Liew.Canon also ensures that their hard work
    is being recognised by their customers. “We also conduct surveys on the
    end user. The last survey was about six months ago. We found that we
    have the highest customer loyalty and customer retention with more than
    30% of customers who affirmatively say they will continue to purchase
    Canon products or recommend someone to use a Canon.”

    Keeping with
    the times
    With media 2.0, brand communication is no more a one way
    street. Realising this, Canon, since last year, moved into cyber space.
    “We [recently] engaged an IT consultant from India called the Havas
    group, to help us revamp our entire website and update it to the new Web
    2.0. You can now find us at encourage
    customers to visit their site, Canon has started their online warranty
    which allows customers to activate their warranty card through their Web
    site. “Through the Web site, we give them an extended two year
    warranty. We believe you need to give customers a reason to go online.”

    of Canon’s most successful online projects is called ‘Canon Goes
    Green’, which began 2nd September 2008. Viewers are called to submit a
    picture through the Web site. For each picture they submit, Canon
    promised to plant a tree at Padang Kota Damansara, where a lot of
    illegal logging is taking place. “We actually started this project
    because we wanted to test the waters of our online tools. It was a low
    risk project and it doubled as our Corporate Social Responsibility
    project.”The team at Canon had their doubts about the response they
    would garner, as they conducted this project 100% online. However the
    response was overwhelming. To take the project to the next level of
    interactivity, Canon called all 1000 participants of the project to join
    them at Padang Kota Damansara, on October 19th 2008, to help them plant
    2,500 seedlings. “We also invited YB Elizabeth Wong (Bukit Lanjan
    Exco), Faizal Parish (Director of Global Environment Centre), YB Dato
    Haji Mohamad Ruslan (on behalf of the mayor’s office), reps from
    Forestry Dept and Dr Nasir Hashim (ADUN Kota Damansara).”

    a Green Brand
    Canon’s green initiatives have not merely been a test
    run of their online popularity. For years they have incorporated
    environmental saving initiatives into their brand building plans. Among
    the projects they have carried out includes recycling used ink
    cartridges. They have also done environmental clean-up projects.
    However, after all these years, Liew realises education is the
    sustainable path to restoring the environment.“That’s why we started
    ‘Canon Goes Green’. This programme educates the young on the importance
    of caring for the Earth. Civic mindedness has to start from an education
    level. For example we started planting trees at Padang Kota Damansara.
    We then applied to the government for permission to turn the park into a
    nice botanical park that can be used by the public for activities. We
    want to build basic amenities like toilets, water taps and tree houses.”
    Canon believes, by developing the park for public use, more people will
    come to appreciate nature and understand its importance.Canon has also
    implemented many environmental friendly initiatives within their
    organisation. “We have banned the use of plastic bags by our company. We
    only use recyclable paper bags and reusable woven bags.”Canon Inc Japan
    also started a green earth campaign two decades ago which has resulted
    in all Canon’s packaging material being plastic-free and environmentally
    friendly. In addition, all ink and toner cartridges are recyclable. “We
    also just launched our first calculator made from 100% recycled
    material and it is commercially viable.”

    Sustaining brand
    excellence in a downturn
    As stated in the beginning, Canon has
    managed to sustain its branding power even through the economic
    downturn. Liew says, for Canon, an economic downturn is no different
    than an economic upturn. “When the same economic situation occurred in
    the year 1997, [companies] were laying-off staff and cutting A&P.
    But we did not take the same approach. At Canon, we invest the same
    amount of money in good times and in bad.”Liew testifies, in 1997, after
    the recession, Canon’s business recovered in 18 months and hit record
    sales. Other companies, he says, took four to five years to recover.

    believes this principle is what has helped it outshine its competitors.
    Liew says, when the company spends the same amount in bad times, as
    they do in good times, they will receive higher ROI. This is because, as
    competitors cut back their expenditure, Canon, while maintaining their
    annual A&P expenditure, will receive larger share of voice. “This
    tactic makes it look like only Canon is advertising, hence drowning the
    other guys. [In actual fact] with the same money spent, we gain higher
    returns [during the recession].”

    The faces of Canon
    ambassadors or spokespersons are a vital part of any branding campaign.
    The brand ambassador adds a human perspective to the brand, and builds
    the bridge between consumers and the product. Consumers also tend to be
    attracted to purchase products endorsed by their favourite celebrity or
    personality who claims to use the product.

    Simon Yam has been the
    face of Canon’s EOS in Malaysia for nearly 15 years. The Hong Kong
    actor who holds a squeaky clean image is also known for his skillful
    photography. As an avid photographer, he understands the art of
    photography. He is also shifting his career path from acting to
    directing, and for his latest project, Simon shot the full documentary
    using Canon’s EOS 500. He not only elevates the value of the brand
    through association but his knowledge and active involvement in
    photography helps to market the product, in terms of application, and
    consumers see his word credible .

    Canon’s brand ambassadors are
    also the Malaysian ten-pin bowling team. The Malaysian national team is
    one of the best national sports teams. As they have won many world
    titles, Canon is proud to sponsor them and have the team carry their
    logo, deriving publicity and value from the team’s continuous excellent

     When Canon first sponsored the bowling team in the
    year 2004, it was with the intention of carrying out their social
    responsibility. “When I met Dato Dr P.S. Nathan, the president of the
    Malaysian Ten-Pin Bowling Congress, he shared with me the difficulties
    faced by the national team, who are given low monthly allowance from the
    Malaysian Sports Council, forcing their parents to support them
    financially if they were to continue to represent the country.”

    year Canon brought back one of their former brand ambassadors. The
    Malaysian ‘Queen of Rock’, Ella, worked with Canon in the early 90s for
    seven years, and today has returned to promote Canon’s PowerShot and
    IXUS to the Malay market. Even though Ella is from the older generation,
    but the launching of her new album proved Ella an evergreen artist
    after her hit single shot to number one in just one month.

    To Sum
    it All Up!
    And that’s the story of Canon. From a run-off-the-mill
    trading company to one of the top players in its category, Canon has
    proved the power of advertising goes beyond just selling a product.
    Taking a lesson from Canon, we’d say, don’t just sell, brand it!