Epson to woo inkjet market

By : |May 26, 2003 0

BANGALORE: Epson Technologies, the Japanese printer giant, is planning to target MFDs and large formats printers besides renewing its thrust in the ink jet market with the introduction of several new models over the next few years. The company claims that these models would be backed not only by developments in technology, but also by a hard-pushing marketing strategy.

According to the company’s Business Manager Consumer (Inkjet) Suresh Govindachari, “We were active in the DMP(Dot Matrix Printer) segment. With our next few introductions in the ink jet market we plan to make up for our late entry in the segment and win ourselves a large chunk of the market share.”

Future models from Epson, in the entry level and MFD segments of ink jets, will have DURABrite, the pigment ink developed and patented by them. Epson claims that print outs from the ink, which combine properties of dye and pigment inks, can last without fading for up to 80 years. The ink is presently available on one model each of the specified segments–C82 and CX5100.

The dual advantages of increased quality with improved cost effectiveness offered by pigment inks will be the driving force behind Epson’s efforts in the large format printer area too.

“The large format market is something we are taking tiny steps into. We have chosen to enter the market one segment at a time as each segment has variable needs for printers. We are now focusing on the newspaper and pre-press industry. Both of these need innumerable color print-outs, preferably on newsprint, for proofing before sending to actual print and Epson’s large format printers are capable of providing that,” said Govindachari.

Even as Epson’s market share grew from 17 percent to 20 percent over the last financial year, a mere technological advantage will not help them in threatening HP with 55 percent of the inkjet market. Considering the change in market perceptions with people increasingly interested in laser printers, a relentless marketing initiative might be the key to ensuring Epson’s goal of renewing the ink jet market. And the company has one all ready.

Commenting on the company’s marketing strategy, which will deal with printer segments in different ways, Govindachari said, “While the entry level market will be tackled with aggressive pricing, the large format segment will be addressed by direct approach to identified user groups. An example of this would be the company’s identification of the jewelry industry as a user group, followed by the establishment of centers in areas where the industry thrives, including Coimbatore, to address customer needs on their own turf. We are also on the constant look out for new user groups in various industries.”

As for MFDs, Epson plans to take the offer route, with programs including exchange of old ink jet printers, while it tries to identify the segment that will be the driving force for this technology.

“The coming year will see the numbers in terms of volumes still being dictated by entry level ink jet printers. But we believe that large format and MFD’s will come to play a huge role and that’s why we are increasingly turning our attention to that segment. After all, we wouldn’t want to miss that boat when it comes along,” said Govindachari.

Apart from this, Epson will attempt to provide better after-sales service — one of the biggest areas of dissatisfaction among customers today. With 120 service centres spread across the country, Epson has also set up home-offices in smaller cities to take care of their channels.

Speaking on Epson’s attempts to open up markets in the photo printer segment, Govindachari said, “There are more than 100,000 potential studios across the country many of who will be ready to consider a technological upgrade that reduces their work tenfold while cutting down their costs. We are in the process of developing programs for this end customer.”

With DMP sales falling every year and the layman yet not convinced about an MFD or a laser printer, Epson’s drive to reinstate inkjets on top of the line might hit potluck. But what with Samsung pushing up the laser market relentlessly and HP ruling the roost in ink jets comfortably, the going might be tougher than it seems.

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