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Canon takes aim at 30% annual sales growth
By Li Weitao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-01 09:24

Japan's Canon Inc aims to grow its sales in China by more than 30 per cent annually in the coming years, a company executive said.

"Canon China has rapidly grown in the past few years, and the momentum is even stronger these days," said Hideki Ozawa, president and chief executive officer of Canon China Co Ltd.

China contributes a quarter of Canon's sales in Asia excluding Japan and North Korea with last year's figure being US$460 million.

However, "I expect to see Canon China top the sales list of all Asian countries in the near future," said Ozawa, who is also president of Canon Asia Marketing Group.

Ozawa aims to more than double Canon's annual sales in China to US$1 billion by 2007.

The bullish target is mainly based on China's robust economic growth and the ever-expanding consumer electronics market, noted Ozawa.

US research firm IDC has forecast that China's consumer electronics market would grow at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 20.9 per cent from 2005 to 2009.

Last year, sales of consumer electronics products in China hit 61.69 billion yuan (US$7.62 billion), IDC's statistics showed.

In 2009, annual sales are forecast to hit 159.64 billion yuan (US$19.7 billion).

Chinese consumers, whose purchasing power is rising sharply, are increasingly turning to big-ticket items like digital cameras which are becoming increasingly affordable.

According to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International, 2.602 million digital cameras were sold in China last year, up 85.3 per cent year-on-year.

Sony and Canon are the top players in the digital-camera market in China with traditional cameras being replaced.

A rapidly-growing "digital culture" in China is producing a sizable market, said Ozawa.

Canon last year secured government approval to sell its products directly in China, which has given a big boost to its sales growth. Previously, all Canon products were imported while its manufacturing facilities in China targeted only exports.

Compared to its major rivals, Canon boasts a complete portfolio of digital-imaging products ranging from cameras, printers and copiers to scanners.

"I hope Canon becomes the top seller in each product category in China," said Ozawa.

Canon has developed strong brand awareness among Chinese consumers, especially professionals, but Ozawa said the company needs to further improve customer satisfaction by turning all products into "delightful tools."

Competition in China's digital-camera market is so intense that players such as Hewlett-Packard and TCL have been forced to pull out of the market.

"The key to survive competition is making sure we win the trust and support of our customers," he said.

"Canon continuously strives to understand the market and customers well, and introduce powerful products timely," he said.

Canon last week released a total of 20 new products, which Ozawa said "are all more stylish and functional than ever."

Establishing shops in downtown or busy shopping malls to display glitzy digital products and woo customers has become a common tactic for digital-product makers.

"We believe providing an enjoyable shopping environment helps differentiating yourself, and inviting more customers to our shops," Ozawa said.

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