Nikon Market Research?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mike_halliwell, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. I know this forum is not necessarily made up from the 'Average Joe or Joanne' who uses Nikon cameras, but has anyone ever been asked or had a mechanism to tell Nikon what features they'd like in a Beginner, Intermediate or Pro camera?
    Do Nikon actually visit forums like ours? Do they gauge the number of people that want a bigger buffer, built in wi-fi, customisable menus or more RAW options etc etc....or do they provide what they think we want, without asking?
    Maybe they ask Pros what they want in the top-of-range FX or maybe it's through NPS?
    Just curious about how they know what we want!
     
  2. It's always fun to speculate, and I imagine their market feedback is probably limited. It's not that hard to determine features that'll please consumers but it also has to square with their product lineup and feature gradation at various price points as well as technical feasibility.
    It would probably be a big mistake to monitor forums and take comments seriously; it'd be like car companies building cars according to forum comments - forum posters want everything and many (if not most) aren't (and will never be) buyers anyway.
     
  3. I am a marketing robot that shoves whatever product I think will sell onto retailers shelves - I am a Nikon.
     
  4. The good thing about Nikon bodies is that for the most part, they already offer just about everything you are mentioning For example, there are 'simple' menus and advanced in bodies where appropriate, and many allow you to create your own menus of favorite settings. Alll Nikon bodies can be used pretty much fully automatically or fully manually and anywhere in between. Buffer is probably a matter of cost, where pro cameras typically have more (but it seems there is never enough regardless of the buffer size). My D3 came with a reasonable buffer and I chose to upgrade it at my expense.
     
  5. RJ.. :)
    So how do Nikon judge whether a D400 would sell? Interesting that Canon and Nikon have come to the same conclusion 'independently'. I'd have thought one would want to get-the-jump on the other, rather than produce the same things as the opposition.
     
  6. There was, at one point, a way to submit feature requests via the Nikon web site, and I've been known to email things in. I can't guarantee that anything happens with them, though I did suggest that a program-shiftable auto ISO based on focal length would be handy back in the D700 days, and we seemed to get that. (I doubt I was alone in that request, however, and they've not let me alias the ISO button to one of the programmable ones that I can reach yet - so they certainly don't always listen.) If Nikon opened their BIOS to third parties, I'd be there hacking it (and I am an embedded software engineer). There are unofficial projects, but I've not had time to contribute yet - my feature request list is quite long. (Elliot - you have no idea! Apart from anything else, trap focus. Grr.)

    I believe NPS members have been asked questions in the past - about whether the 24-70 should have VR, for example. How far that opinion-gathering stretches, I don't know. I suspect the UK is quite isolated from Nikon HQ even with the best will in the world. The danger to allowing the public to submit random ideas is that you'll get a lot of "10-1000 f/2 tilt/shift macro for $200" lens requests, along with "get rid of all the buttons that I personally don't use", and I imagine that filtering the results by practicality and viable market need might be a soul-destroying job. I suspect all the good ideas are covered by someone's patents, which is why we don't have them. (I am not a fan of the patent system...)

    Mike: All we can surmise is that Canon and Nikon both don't want to release their 7D2/D300 replacements before the other one does. But it's true that they may both have decided not to do it at all. But that's another thread.
     
  7. I think what Elliot said is fair comment as far as DSLRs go, but Nikon's current range of bridge-style cameras falls short of consumer expectation IMHO. No external flash synchronisation provision and no RAW saving option, for example, are software only functions that would have cost almost nothing to have left in place over previous models. Even the option to use a cheap MLL3 IR remote has been removed.
    OK, I know that bridge cameras are falling out of favour, but if you're going to market them at all, why spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar? I'm sure that even the slightest amount of market research would have revealed some small demand for those aforementioned features - without consumers having to sacrifice the bridge-camera's excellent zoom range for that of something like a P7700. It just doesn't make any sense.
     
  8. Their financials should be talking to them louder than any of us can.
     
  9. There was actually someone from Nikon commenting on this issue but I don't have the reference at hand. They basically said that they find internet forums good for bug reports i.e. if someone has a technical problem that they don't yet know about it gets on the forums very quickly. But they also said that according to information they have, professional photographers don't post on internet forums, so they don't use the forum comments to base decisions on the design and features of their professional cameras or lenses, since they're targeting professionals with these products. I think this is exactly as they it be as otherwise they might not get the design right from the point of view of their target group. Internet forums have a peculiar demographic and not everyone is who they say they are.
     
  10. Herbert Keppler of Modern Photography and later Popular Photography was sometimes asked in the early days of the "Japanese invasion", but I have seen numerous comments over the years by internationally famous Nikon users that they were never asked anything by Nikon.
     
  11. The one thing that has really got me thinking the past year and a half is the ability to take different lenses. One of the main reasons I stll shoot 4x5 is so I can use lenses made from now clear back to the 1840s. That's so cool! One of the two major factors pulling me towards something like an X-pro or NEX is the ability to use my Leica LTM lenses, or other small really cool lenses. I did see a NIkon rep a few weeks ago who showed up at a "special event" at my local camera chain. I told him that while waiting for a D400 to appear, I started using vintage Leica gear. After falling in love with it, I now would like to see a small camera with true rangefinder focus, decent digital performance, and the ability to take a variety of adapted lenses. I told him that even though I sometimes do photography for pay, I had very little interest in FX cameras for the forseeable future and no plans to go that route. He was at a loss for words other than, "Nikon is constantly coming out with new products, don't write us off."
    Kent in SD
     
  12. "Do Nikon actually visit forums like ours?"​
    Not if they value their sanity and useful information.
    Equipment discussion forums tend to be dominated by extreme partisans and a noisy minority of participants who enjoy babbling about gear they will never actually buy.
     
  13. Nikons are sold in most every country in the world and I think they do a pretty good job with there DSLR's and lenses. Pocket cameras leave a bit to be desired but I wish they would come up with a decent rangefinder like the Fuji X100s that would use all there lenses.
     
  14. Do Nikon actually visit forums like ours? Do they gauge the number of people that want a bigger buffer, built in wi-fi, customisable menus or more RAW options etc etc....or do they provide what they think we want, without asking?​
    I am pretty sure they do pay for some forum data mining. I believe they probably also practice some subversive marketing and opinion support on forums, just like many other big companies do these days.
    But forum vibe is just one small piece of input. Ultimately, their marketing people consider what they think will sell best and they are able to produce for what money. Sometimes they are successful, other times they fail, as they have recently admitted for Nikon 1. But it isn't always fair to judge them like this. For instance, I've never had the best opinion of their compacts, yet they manage to sell sh**loads of them (unfortunately, a market in decline). You can always switch to the competition.
     
  15. Lex - cynical much? The reason people are vocal about minor features is that they believe it would generally get in the way of their photography. Would it guarantee a camera sale? No, but at some point these people will probably upgrade. By most internet standards, this forum is full of well-reasoned and considered arguments. And when something is posted that's not in that category, the other posters normally shoot it down and give more of a justification that in would be easy for Nikon to do. For what it's worth, while I'm not camera shopping, I'm genuinely interested in industrial design, so any of these discussions are interesting to me even if I don't want the features..

    It's true that there's always a certain degree of "we want everything, now, for half price". But there are some features that actually wouldn't cost much to implement and that might be useful. There may always be another reason not to do something (I don't know whether Canon didn't do the dual-ISO trick available on some hacked BIOSses because of Fuji patents, I assume there's some philosophical reason for not providing programmable interfaces) but some things should slip through the cracks.

    Now, if Nikon were on the forum, it would be nice to have a justification for their decisions. I'm much happier with the way a feature behaves if there's a reason for it, even if that reason only helps someone else. "Why don't you make a camera without all the confusing bells and whistles that only does what I want, with dedicated dials?" is easy to answer. If the answer to a missing feature is that "someone else has the patent, our hands are tied" then that at least makes people sympathetic that Nikon are listening. If Nikon would give me an explanation for why I can't drive the camera without taking my left hand off the lens it's holding (why the AF controls have to be there - other than the mechanical AF/M lever - and why some controls are only on the cluster by the finder), it might stop me assuming that Nikon's designers only ever use a 50mm prime or keep the camera on a tripod. It would be a pretty soul-destroying job for someone, but it could be very good PR. Oh well, we can hope. :)

    Sem: The problem with switching is that the competition usually has its own range of idiosyncrasies. Canon not allowing auto-ISO in manual mode, for example. Nikon is my best match, but it that doesn't mean it's perfect.
     
  16. Equipment discussion forums tend to be dominated by extreme partisans and a noisy minority of participants who enjoy babbling about gear they will never actually buy.​
    YUP! Prior to the internet/WWW/et al., Nikons, VWs, Fords, Subarus, Viking, Singer, Lazy-boy, etc., etc., never did break down. It's the advent of the pulpit offered by the web that caused things to fail. Check the data and you will see that Lex is right.
    For example: My own experience with VW is so full of documented cases of people not bothering (or unable to) to read the owners manual to even know how to do simple things such as adjust seat height, remove the floor mats, or adjust the speed of the wipers--so they claim that VW's are faulty, even lemons. Some put gasoline in a diesel and expect VW to replace/repair the car! Camera owners are no different. Sad, but true.
     
  17. "Lex - cynical much?"​
    I think you misspelled "realistic".
    Obviously Nikon never consulted photo.net or the Nikon 1 series never would have seen the light of day.
    Obviously Nikon never consulted dpreview's Nikon 1 fanfic fanboy forum or Nikon never would have considered the 1 series a mistake.
    Realistic answer? Obviously Nikon never consulted *anyone* about the 1 series. If they had they'd have realized the camera they meant to build was the Sony RX100, only with Nikon's blistering fast AF and overall reflexes, and Ricoh's GRD ergonomics, physical control set and image settings. In other words, the Coolpix to end all Coolpix - an ultra-fast CX format compact with a fast midrange zoom, *good* built in flash (i.e., flash sync faster than a loafing 1/60th), full CLS compatibility, and the V1's built in EVF.
    Nikon has always been capable of making great products. They've rarely demonstrated any market savvy. Mostly it's dumb luck - a fortuitous coincidence of a product already in the pipeline slamming into actual market demand, ready to be fulfilled, that developed totally independently of anything Nikon was doing behind the scenes.
    I don't think Nikon pays much attention to discussion forums because (a) the contradictions wouldn't be useful anyway; (b) only the Borg collective could generate anyone capable of parsing the forum wars to determine what the market claims to want and will actually buy.
     
  18. Lex, now that your cynicism is directed at Nikon rather than at the forum, I find myself in complete agreement with you. :)
     
  19. Realistic answer? Obviously Nikon never consulted *anyone* about the 1 series.​
    Could not agree more! The 1 system is a truly technologically innovated system, but has been poorly packaged and marketed. Hopefully Nikon can fix the problem with the 1 system or incorporate its core technology into its existing dSLR line. Fuji and Canon are both making good use of the AF-sensor on chip technology that first appeared with the 1, and the new Canon 7D is really impressive in terms of AF performance for both still and video, plus it has one of the best implementations of the touch screen technology. C'mon Nikon ...
     
  20. Eric - the V2 is, from a handling perspective and as far as I can tell from reviews, a huge improvement over the V1. It actually lets you get at the controls that are buried in the V1 menu system, and is far more the enthusiast camera that I wish the V1 was. Nikon have revised it, and in the right direction. Unfortunately, they launched it into a market alongside a heavily discounted V1, and launched it in the same stratospheric price bracket where the V1 was launched (and didn't sell; it's still far from cheap. At the same price, I'd take the V2 over the V1 in a heartbeat, but the V2 was launched into a market not only full of big-sensor compacts and larger-than-1-sensor interchangeable lens systems, but with the V1 massively undercutting it. If they'd made it cheaper, and supposedly one of the points of the 1 series is that it was cheaper to make than a DSLR, they might have sold more. Not learning from the market response to the price seems really careless. The cheaper models still lack the handling for an enthusiast camera, and don't have the convenience or portability of a superzoom.

    In terms of the concept, the fact that Nikon haven't been overwhelmed with requests for a 2.7x teleconverter should have been a clue that adapting lenses wasn't going to be a big seller (with apologies to the few - apparently including Thom Hogan - for whom it's a selling point). Adapting lenses even to a micro 4/3 system is a bit odd, with the long end of my 14-24 turning into a normal lens; it would be a little less extreme if I was starting with a DX system. Putting a full frame lens on DX doesn't feel ridiculously wasteful, unless it's an ultrawide. With a 2.7x crop, the lenses are way outside their design remit; on a V1, an 85mm lens feels like it should have VR. Nikon's big advantage over the micro 4/3 crowd is the ability to adapt lenses, and the 1-system is a poor way to do this.

    The naming doesn't help. Camera manufacturers have a terrible record when it comes to leaving themselves space to name the next camera, but "1" is just confusing.

    So no, I think Nikon tried so hard to think outside the box (after spending a long time ignoring the mirrorless segment) that they didn't do a good job of finding out what would sell. It's always a problem to do this with an innovative system - people don't know what they want until they've got it - but on this occasion the things that seem to have put people off are exactly what everyone would have said would put them off if you described the camera a year before launch.

    Canon have been a little less adventurous with the M (which is apparently also not selling all that well), though they've arguably done more innovation with the 100D and 70D (Eric - not 7D! You nearly had me convinced that Nikon would be about to launch a D400 there...) than in mirrorless. However, the grass is always greener on the other side, and it's easy to have (for example) envy for the 5D3's autofocus system and frame rate while forgetting they can't do auto-ISO in manual mode and that the low-ISO dynamic range on the 5D3 is stops worse than the D600/D800 (give or take the latest dual-amplifier hack). I would not be surprised if Nikon responded to the 100D - especially given the question about the future of the 1 - though they're disadvantaged by the flange distance (but advantaged by mount diameter) and may not be able to match the size. I think the D7100 vs 70D is more of a wash and less likely to invoke a response, though I'll be interested if I'm wrong.

    The companies that moved early on mirrorless had no established foot-hold in the DSLR market - Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji (who lost out to Nikon's own models), Sony (who are still trying everything in every segment), Samsung (who I think might have done better if someone had looked up the Leica M flange distance). Pentax moved late as well, tried to be even more exotic than Nikon, and I've seen no sign that either the Q series or K-01 are selling. I'm not sure what market research Pentax are doing, but Nikon have a lot more existing customers to ask.

    It's easy to sit here and criticize with hindsight, but there really are some things that a lot of people predict, and the people disagreeing in the design departments can be less "visionary" and more "wrong". Given that the camera market is so weak right now, I hope Nikon get it more right in the future, but at least their DSLR department has some more convincing products.
     
  21. Ditto, Andrew, regarding the 1 series. Nikon
    improved the V model while managing to completely
    avoid improving their marketing. It's quite a
    feat.

    The V2 looks very attractive in terms of
    features, while managing to be even less
    attractive cosmetically than the utilitarian
    brick V1. But that price? Yikes, no.

    And that name: Nikon 1? Whoever came up with
    that never gave any thought to searching. Just
    try to find something on Amazon that's specific
    to the Nikon 1 series, without thousands of hits
    for completely unrelated Nikon products. Again,
    poor marketing strategy.

    I'd still like to believe that Nikon can salvage
    the best stuff - the outstanding quickness and
    EVF - and meld it into the best Coolpix they've
    ever built, with a CX sensor, fast midrange zoom
    and proper flash.

    But that would require that one little
    characteristic that seems to elude Nikon -
    marketing savvy.
     
  22. Good point about searching for the 1! For what it's worth, the last time I had that kind of trouble was when I was buying a 35mm lens for my Pentax 645. Ever searched for "Pentax 35mm lens"? Useful it wasn't, even when I tried to add medium format terms. Manufacturers should make a point of releasing 36mm lenses instead. Sigh.
     
  23. Lex, I thought I was the only one who had the 'finding' Nikon 1 products a problem! The only way I could find lenses was remembering the odd focal lengths of the CX series or using the letter V or J, or maybe CX and Nikon together. Hopeless marketing thinking!
     

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