What Nikon Has Taught Us

(commentary)

This came from a site reader:

"Here's what Nikon has taught us in the past couple years.

  1. Never pre-order anything. Wait at least three months to see what's wrong with the first production run.
  2. Never buy anything before the first price drop.
  3. Wait to buy until there's a sale (like the current lens sale).
  4. Buy the camera/kit lens combo only during one of those promotions when the kit lens is free or close to it.
  5. If Nikon screws up quality control, mount a class action suit against them."


Can’t say that I disagree. Nikon’s current tactics seem to be conditioning all us loyal owners to act differently in our purchase decisions. 

Consumers aren’t stupid. They learn from repeated company practices how to deal with that company. Thus, at this point I’d say that most longer term Nikon users know that:

  • Most Nikon cameras will go on fire sale when Nikon eventually produces too many of them and needs to clear out inventory. If you’re at all price sensitive, buying early in a production run is not smart (and this is amplified in Europe lately). 
  • Nikon’s urge to “make numbers” means that we tend not to see rebates and promotions in the first month of a quarter, and in the last two months of the fiscal year we often see more widespread rebates amongst lenses (February/March).
  • Refurbished cameras are a gambler’s bet. We’ve seen some wild pricing on refurbs lately (US$1300 D600’s, for example), but the 90-day warranty and the high likelihood that “refurb” really means “repackaged” means that you’re gambling on there not being anything wrong. D600 refurb purchasers won the bet, as Nikon has now agreed to repair them out of warranty. Others may not be so lucky. 
  • Accessories never ship with the products, a let go out of stock, and there’s a never-ending stream of new ones when there’s no real reason why there should be.


I can’t help but note that Nikon has conditioned customers in a way that is circular: since there’s a reason to wait to buy, this causes Nikon to overproduce, which lowers price, which gives the customer the reason they waited to buy. 

To some degree, all companies that sell at retail have a version of this pattern. Auto makers, for instance, instituted model years so that there is a predictable cycle for both customer and them. Most plants shut down production and move to the next year model long prior to switch at retail, and it becomes a marketing/sales/accounting game trying to dial inventory just right so that it dissipates properly into the new cycle.

Still, the problem with Nikon (and Canon and others) is that there are no predictable cycles, the inventory is actually jammed more than generation old in many dealers shelves, and they’ve continually conditioned customers to wait for price drops. 

To Nikon’s credit, they have spent a lot of time addressing one of the ways you deal with this situation: reduce costs and increase gross profit margin. However, there are limits to which you can do that, and the push back from that dealer base is getting tougher, because ultimately it’s the dealers that suffer from lower or delayed inventory turns.  

© Thom Hogan 2014 / All Rights Reserved bythom.com  @bythom #bythom