Newsletter : It's a Kodak Moment
It's a Kodak Moment
Have you ever stopped to wonder what happened to Kodak? In 1996, Kodak was the world's fourth biggest brand, behind Disney, Coca-Cola and McDonald's. How come the top three have survived and flourished whilst Kodak has fallen by the wayside? In fact, Kodak has done more than fallen by the wayside - it's almost disappeared. In January 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection (although financing is now in place to allow it to emerge from bankruptcy by the middle of 2013). As part of its restructuring, Kodak has ceased making digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames.
Looking back to 1976, Kodak had a 90% market share of photographic film sales in the United States. The company was so dominant that a new phrase entered the language: "a Kodak moment". This tagline was used to mean that something perfect was happening in your day and merited a photo to record the moment forever. An example of this could be something truly memorable like a wedding, a birthday cake or a graduation. It could also be something simple like a family picnic, a soccer match, an interesting view, etc. A lovely expression but try using it nowadays with a young school kid and you will get a very blank look of incomprehension.
Some people say that Kodak's failure was caused by a lack of innovation. These people criticize Kodak for not spotting the digital trend. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. The digital camera was actually invented by Kodak in 1976. Moreover, during the years 1985 to 1994, Kodak ploughed a staggering $5 billion dollars into research and development.
Other people argue that Kodak failed because its name was too strongly associated with 'old' photographic film and that consumers didn't associate the company with 'new' digital products. As a result when Kodak did eventually move into digital photography, its customers did not follow them.
Interestingly, market analysts think that Kodak might have had more success if it had created a separate, new name for the digital branch of the company. An example of this strategy is Eveready, a major manufacturer of batteries. Eveready was one of the first companies to produce alkaline batteries, however, its consumers just weren't interested in the 'new' powerful batteries. Only when Eveready gave the product the new name "Energizer" did consumers start to buy. But too late! By that time, Duracell had already captured the market.
Kodak was founded back in 1888 by a man called George Eastman. Eastman was very fond of the letter 'k' arguing that it is a strong letter. Hence the use of a 'k' at the beginning and at the end of the name. George maintained that a name should be short, easy to pronounce, and not resemble any other name. His message was simple: the right name can make or break a product. What a pity that Kodak didn't follow its founder's advice and create a new name for the new digital market.