Branding Initiative: Nikon shifts focus to new audience in latest Coolpix drive

When the mainstream digital-camera market exploded, Nikon's well-reputed Coolpix brand of digital cameras needed a new image.

When the mainstream digital-camera market exploded, Nikon's well-reputed Coolpix brand of digital cameras needed a new image.

While the brand was top-of-the-line among photo professionals, it lacked the everyday, user-friendly flair that the mass consumer desired.

MWW Group, which prior had maintained the brand's professional reputation, was prompted to create an image for Coolpix that reflected the lifestyle needs of its targeted buyers. "The goal was to generate consumer awareness for the Coolpix brand to ultimately drive sales and help Nikon increase market share among a specific target audience," says Alissa Blate, EVP of consumer marketing at MWW.

Strategy

MWW sought secondary research findings to identify its best marketing targets. The firm decided to gear its initiative toward life enthusiasts - people ages 25 to 44 who are creative, passionate, active, and willing to impulse buy, but also to maintain brand loyalty and an interest in style. Another target market was new moms/expectant couples, a group that is prominent among new digital-camera users.

To create a reputation that Coolpix is easy to use and affordable, yet still high quality, MWW decided to establish partnerships with brands and influencers already well-known by these groups. MWW sought to take advantage of these partnerships by using radio promotions and print media publicity to build the mass consumer awareness necessary for a revitalized brand image.

Tactics

To reach life enthusiasts, Nikon sponsored Gen Art's Fresh Faces in Fashion series during Fashion Week in New York, LA, and Chicago. Gen Art, an arts and entertainment organization that showcases fresh talent, presented up-and-coming designers at the fashion event, drawing an "audience of trendsetters," Blate says. The idea was to reach that audience and attract people who wanted the "latest gadgets and the hottest products," Blate adds. To accomplish this, Nikon distributed Coolpix cameras to the high-profile guests who attended, making them third-party endorsers. Actress Mena Suvari, for example, was pictured in Star magazine using the Coolpix camera she received at one of the shows.

Toward the same goal, Nikon participated as the official digital camera for radio station Z100's Zootopia 2003, distributing Coolpix cameras to participating celebrities, who were then seen with the cameras hanging from their wrists. The sponsorship also resulted in radio promotions and on-air giveaways on the Z Morning Zoo program.

To attract the new mom/expectant couple audience, Nikon partnered with modeling agency Wilhelmina Kids for the Nikon Coolpix Pride and Joy Baby Contest, a nationwide photo contest and baby search. Mothers were enticed by a potential one-year modeling contract with Wilhelmina Kids.

Nikon also partnered with maternity designer Liz Lange. The company sent a small basinet to pregnant celebrities, such as Courteney Cox, complete with a Nikon camera, among other gifts. Other partnerships included Lamaze through its Parent Packs and Chrysler's annual PT Block Party.

Results

Nikon Coolpix's share of the digital-camera market jumped from 6% to almost 11% in the past year. The campaign reached an estimated 248 million consumers for more than 753 million media impressions. "It made us more approachable," Lisa Baxt, Nikon communications manager, says of the effort.

The most important message relayed by the effort, Baxt adds, is that there is a Nikon digital camera for everyone - "from a snap-shooter to a pro-level photographer."

Future

MWW Group will continue to work with Nikon, this year helping the company promote about 10 new product lines, Blate says. Strategic partnerships will still be employed, Blate says, and similar events will take place. The baby contest, for example, will be repeated and expanded. "It's going to be a very big program this year," Blate says.

PR team: MWW Group and Nikon (East Rutherford, NJ)

Campaign: Nikon Coolpix: Moving the brand to a new level

Time frame: January to December 2003

Budget: About $200,000

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