Inside Story

Listening to all sorts of user opinions

The sales strategy team approached users from all sorts of angles. One way was to survey people who purchased the camera. They also directly interviewed users. "Everyone was quite 'passionate'," says Kashimura. "They were exactly what we had anticipated: people that carry a camera on themselves at all times, people who have their antennas out and are always collecting information, people who want to show others their photographic works, and so forth. Many of them told us that they were 'glad they waited'."

Naturally, there were stern opinions as well. "But, they weren't pure criticism as most were forward-looking proposals that suggested 'changing this in such and such a way would be better', which taught us things we had not considered," admits Kashimura.

Blogging as a great way for getting closer to users

GR BLOG
"GR BLOG" site where Ricoh interfaces with users.
User blogs also appear on the top page.

The "GR BLOG" website that was opened to launch the GR DIGITAL has worked like a bridge between Ricoh and users. It took off not only because of the information provided by the manufacturer but also as a place for user participation thanks to backtracking. "As people kept sending in their opinions, we met demands wherever possible by providing function expanded firmware and upgrading the version," tells Kashimura. The firmware was updated a total of 5 times to add -- for example -- a mode that kept the LCD from lighting up during shots, picture quality and size settings, and "B/W" and "Sepia" settings for images.

"Those providing the 'GR BLOG' information were also conveying the fun they were having with the camera and picture-taking," added Kashimura. The information was coming from not only digital camera business units but also Ricoh employees who like cameras including people in PR departments and all-in-one, copier and printer divisions. Kashimura said, "The blog site is supported by Ricoh employees such as these who like cameras and numerous users."

A well-approved feature of the "GR BLOG" planning work was the "track back plan". The plan was to collect photos based on a specific theme, upload these photos to one's blog and link the author with "GR BLOG" via backtracking. Exceptional photos are shown in a gallery. Already in its 25th edition, this plan is spreading the fun of taking pictures with the GR DIGITAL to a wide swath of users.

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Products (Digital Cameras)