Last year Nikon was forced to cut back its global forecasted sales of CSCs and, in the UK, the overall market was well down on the year before.

‘If we look at the market worldwide, it’s not so promising but in the Japanese or Asian market [CSC] is still well accepted…’ said Hidehiko Tanaka, managing director of Nikon UK in an interview with AP at last week’s CES.

But, he added: ‘Talking about the UK market, there’s really a significant drop in terms of quantity and we don’t want to somehow artificially push this area.’

Tanaka admitted that the public may be confused over the benefits of CSCs, despite an advertising campaign and training sessions for the public held at the Nikon School in London.

Nikon wants to more clearly target the format towards particular customer needs – an example being the ‘waterproof’ AW1 version of the Nikon 1 launched last September – and believes CSC still has a place between a low-end compact and the company’s flagship DSLR, the D4.

‘Compactness’ is key

‘If you look at our 10x lens, it’s the world’s smallest – if you are on a trip it’s really light and the picture quality is good,’ said Tanaka.

However, he added: ‘I feel that, in this country, if [customers] want a camera with an interchangeable lens, they are thinking of the traditional SLR…’

The company feels it must do more to promote the compactness of the format, an area it believes is key to its future success.

‘There’s still quite a bit of work to be done to highlight the benefits over the compact…’ said Nikon UK’s group marketing manager Jeremy Gilbert.

‘There is still definitely a market for someone who wants better than a pure compact can offer, and compact system comes into that – ultimately the consumer makes a choice in store whether that should be a Nikon 1 or a Nikon DSLR.’

Consumers think differently

Part of the problem, according to Gilbert, is that consumers do not see CSC as a separate category, in the way manufacturers do.

Meanwhile, he says the industry faces the difficulty of investing in and supporting ‘three pillars’ – compact, CSC and DSLR.

‘Compact system came in as another category whereas consumers may not think about product categories… so rather than spreading our investment across three categories we will educate about cameras and the benefits of interchangeable lens – that means both DSLR and compact system will benefit.’

Despite the challenging market, Nikon says it remains committed to the CSC format.

‘I think you can say from the launch of the AW version of the Nikon 1 that we are committed to investing in what could be seen as a niche market,’ continued Gilbert.

‘So, within the flexibility of the Nikon 1 platform we are able to produce products for [different] sectors.’

However, Tanaka would not be drawn on Nikon’s plans for CSC in 2014, only saying that the firm will continue to support this area.

Hidehiko Tanaka, managing director of Nikon UK, spoke to AP at last week’s CES in Las Vegas [Picture credit: C Cheesman]