Really, Canon?

This is how you don't do marketing: Canon Europe's senior product marketing manager gave a quote to Digital Camera World that includes the following: "...should the market demand it, we are ready to create new EF lenses. But for now, our focus is on RF." 

The implication of that quote—and the way that everyone in the press and the customer base is reading it—is that the market isn't currently demanding any new EF lenses, thus Canon is only developing RF lenses now. As dpreview expressed their comment on the quote: "it seems as though Canon has stopped research and development efforts for new EF lenses."

Okay, I understand that this actually might be the case, that Canon's lens team is concentrating only on new RF lenses. Both Canon and Nikon have a lot of lenses they need to produce to make their full frame mirrorless mounts "whole", after all. So you want to say something that indicates that you're urgently addressing that need.

Unfortunately, Canon still sells plenty of other cameras than the RF series. Including another mirrorless system ;~).

What does such a quote getting such widespread re-publication do for Canon? Well, let's see, Canon's DSLR sales still exceed their mirrorless sales (though not for long), so all those DSLR owners are saying "what about us?" Canon actually sells far more M mirrorless cameras than RF, and will (at least until Canon makes a crop sensor RF model ;~), so all those M users are saying "wait, what about us?" Canon also sells Cinema cameras that use the EF mount. So no new EF Cinema lenses, either, Canon? 

I told you earlier that watching the Battleship try to turn quickly wouldn't look pretty. But it can look far uglier if you have someone with a megaphone hanging off the side yelling "we're turning, we're turning." 

I've been highly critical of Nikon's marketing over the years, but that's mainly been about not doing enough of it. This Canon quote running around the Web is something different: it's simply a bad marketing message that is completely counterproductive.

Canon needs a clear strategy that marketing then communicates clearly to the public. 

I have this sneaking suspicion that their strategy is this: 

  • DSLRs go away, replaced by RF mirrorless
  • M goes away, replaced by a future RF APS-C
  • Cinema switches mounts to RF soon (or PL if you want that)

Let's tally up what camera bodies Canon is current selling (from the CanonUSA Web site):

  • 21 DSLRs — EF mount 
  • 3 RF mirrorless full frame — RF mount
  • 8 M mirrorless crop sensor — M mount 
  • 6 Cinema cameras (some with multiple variations) — EF or PL mount

Hmm. 27 of the cameras Canon wants to sell you today use EF lenses, while only 3 use RF lenses. Yet only RF development is continuing? See the problem? 

There are far better statements that could have been made, even if the strategy moving forward is "all RF". For example: "Development is concentrating on RF lenses right now in order to build that new mount into one as strong as our industry-leading EF mount. We'll continue to make sure that whatever Canon you shoot, you have the best possible lenses available for it." 

What we have here is a clear Command and Control problem with Canon's marketing message. 

I have to wonder if the subsidiaries are getting clear Marketing Talking Points from corporate these days. If they are, someone in Canon Europe probably just colored outside the lines. If not, it would tell me that corporate is in disarray and that the subsidiaries are struggling to make their own marketing statements in lieu of ones from the Tokyo office. In today's Internet-driven environment, marketing has to move at warp speed, because those that want to steal, modify, or demean your message move instantaneously. 

One has to wonder if Canon will be the next to announce a restructuring. They're making the soft part of their sales softer by their recent comments and actions. They haven't yet built their new platform into something that will rebuild sales. 

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