Catalyst

Creating a new image for Fujifilm

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on November 28, 2019 Published on November 28, 2019

Healthcare is the predominant focus for Fujifilm India, contributing nearly 60 per cent of its India revenues

How Fujifilm has used its imaging strength to re-invent itself

Early this month, Fujifilm India made a big splash across the country with its ‘Never Stop’ campaign. Hoardings, trains, digital platforms, airports, hospitals, print media, prominently displayed the Fujifilm campaign that showcased its medical imaging solutions.

This was the 85-year-old company’s first mega brand campaign in India. And there was a big imperative for it.

As Haruto Iwata, Managing Director of Fujifilm India, reveals, when the company did a survey across the country, it found that very few consumers knew what products the company currently made. “Only 12 per cent people knew about our medical industry products. That was not good at all,” he says.

Once a leader in photographic films, a business that came to a grinding halt with the advent of the digital camera, Fujifilm today is a leading player in medical imaging and diagnostics equipment. The way the company reinvented itself by reimagining its imaging business even as its archrival Kodak perished is a much quoted business case study.

Fujifilm’s own CEO, Shigetaka Komori, has written an exceptionally powerful book, Innovating Out of Crisis, on how the company thrived even when its core business vanished.

And that’s the central premise of the Never Stop global tagline launched two years ago. That even if a business gets extinct, the company need not halt.

Healthcare, other verticals

The India campaign is customised to local sensibilities, though. “The purpose of the India campaign is to enhance our brand awareness,” says Iwata, pointing out that it will not be one-off but sustained with follow-ups.

The highly emotive film shows an elderly couple visiting a hospital for the wife’s medical check-up and their granddaughter clicking a happy picture on her digital camera when the X-rays are normal. “It showcases our transition from a company focused on photographic film to a company providing new value across a wide range of different fields,” says Iwata.

The film, interestingly, focuses only on the healthcare solutions, making a case for early detection, even though Fujifilm’s business spans many verticals — document solutions (through a partnership with Xerox), cosmetics, optical devices and digital cameras, besides graphic arts.

That’s because the company sees healthcare as the biggest opportunity in India and is not just selling products but solutions as well that could range from hospital information systems to its medical imaging and information system, Synapse. Iwata points to how the company’s new Artificial Intelligence-powered diagnostic solution Reilli could really help radiologists in India with their imaging work flow.

Unlike competitors GE and Philips, which have been doing reverse engineering to offer cheaper equipment for India, Iwata says that Fujifilm’s focus will be on providing higher value and not compete on costs. “Our strength is that we have always been an imaging technology company,” he says.

While healthcare is the predominant focus for Fujifilm India, contributing nearly 60 per cent of its India revenues, it does anticipate growth in other verticals too.

Although the FujiXerox joint venture ended earlier this month with Xerox exiting the deal, selling its 25 per cent stake for $2.3 billion, Iwata does not want to comment on it.

The statements from Tokyo have indicated that now that Fujifilm has full control of the JV, it will try to grow the document printer business by combining it with its artificial intelligence and medical business solutions.

Meanwhile, in India, the photographic imaging core is still very much part of the company’s narrative. Walk into the corporate office and the walls are lined with nearly 3D-like lifelike prints — especially of brides.

When Fujifilm made its first foray in India in 2007, it was wedding albums that was a big business area for it.

The company still has its lens trained on the opportunity. Even the Never Stop brand campaign features the Instax camera. And photographic films may yet make a comeback, albeit with a twist.

Click, press, play

This summer, a new product from Fujifilm was the Instax Mini LiPlay — a small digital camera-cum-instant printer that records sound too.

Click a photo, press the record button and the image is captured with a sound — either music or you saying something. Print the photo and out comes the picture with a QR code pasted on it. Scan the code with your phone and it plays the sound.

“It is a big hit with young people,” grins Iwata, pointing out how his 24-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter find this retro product with a digital twist a great novelty.

Iwata says that the Fujifilm strategy is to now be a company that creates change. “We don’t want to be a company that responds to change, but one that can predict and create change,” he sums up.

Published on November 28, 2019
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