Ricoh Explains Its New ‘Workshop-Like’ Business Plan for Pentax

Ricoh Japan published additional details about its plans to change the structure of its Pentax camera business. Ricoh Japan stated that its primary goals are to increase customer contact and improve direct communication.

Crowdfunding, Limited Direct Sale, Increased Events

Ricoh Japan shared some of its plans for major business strategy changes.

The company stated that it will open direct-to consumer online stores via a few outlets, including Amazon, Rakuten Ichiba and PayPal. The stores will carry limited-edition Pentax products, but the company also says that it may not limit these stores to Pentax or GR brands.

Ricoh Pentax Limited Edition Camera Recolors

Ricoh has announced that it will be holding regular Pentax fan meetings as well as hands-on events, which are currently “irregular” in terms of their timing. This is in line with its goal to increase customer contact. Ricoh expects to increase the number of places where it holds in-person meetings and also to increase their frequency. The company plans to hold more online meetings.

Ricoh will leverage crowdfunding to fund its “workshop-like manufacturing”. It will be able to offer “rare value”, with limited production runs for products bearing the Pentax or GR brands. The company will act on the idea that was presented to fans in November 2021 during an online meeting. However, it did not give more details and instead kept that information secret until the crowdfunding campaign begins later this year. Canon has used crowdfunding to launch several of its experimental cameras in Japan, such as the PowerShot PX or IVY REC.

Ricoh also stated that it will continue to expand its service and showroom bases in Japan. A new Tokyo base will be opened by Ricoh around 2022. It will serve as a reception area for repairs and connect customers.

Ricoh claims that it has additional initiatives in the works beyond those mentioned above and will share details when they are finalized.

A dramatic shift in business strategy

Ricoh Japan announced on January 20 that it was changing the structure of its Pentax camera business. Ricoh’s President & CEO Noboru Akahane stated that Pentax and GR would adopt a workshop-like production approach in Japan to increase sales channels and camera lines through direct-to consumers and other digital methods.

Akahane stated, “In order to connect with customers directly and create a snap-culture, we will concentrate on revitalizing fan communities through social media and interacting through offline events to strengthen bilateral relationships.”

“By directly reaching out to customers, we aim for customer feedback to be more evident in manufacturing and to provide products that are more appealing to customers.”

Ricoh stated that its products would be available online as well as through select first-party shops located in limited areas. Ricoh plans to continue selling its products through traditional retailers partners.

It was not clear to western counterparts about the company’s plans for making this announcement. The initial announcement sounded like the company was changing its strategy. Ricoh USA confirmed that the change would only be effective for Japan almost a day after it broke.