Fujifilm India Pvt. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corporation, Tokyo is making its presence felt in the Indian broad imaging industries segment for more than a decade. The Japanese major had put forth a range of its UV printers at the recently concluded Media Expo 2019 in Mumbai. We at Sign & POP World got hold with S. M. Ramprasad, Executive Vice President, Graphic Arts Division of Fujifilm India. It was a walk the talk kind of conversation with him wherein he shared his views on various parameters including the company’s approach towards customers, charging a premium, and the prospect of UV technology. The edited excerpts are here in the follow-up:
High Speed UV Printers for Outdoor
With more stringent norms on Flex and solvent printing by various state government , there is need to change the current set of high speed Solvent Printers with UV Printers
The initial investment will be there but in terms of running cost, it will be far economical for its high speed and high volume compared with current UV Printers.. It is compatible for soft as well as rigid media. This will be a kind of revolution. What is amazing is the transformation that is happening in the Indian Outdoor market. Four years before when we started our UV journey, we were almost alone on the path as not many players had introduced UV technology. Now we can see that the UV market has become crowded. Not only the existing ones but quite a few new players have marked their entry with UV, which itself shows that the market is diving deep into UV technology.
As far as Fujifilm is concerned, we are very much supported by the kind of installations we have done in the last four years. Even for the newly launched 3.2-meter machine, we have recorded close to 15 installations in a short span of just six months. This has raised the total number of UV installations for us to 100+ of which 70% are flatbed. We are now focusing on roll-to-roll. All thanks to our customers for their continued belief in the brand. They are very happy with the performance.
Approach towards Customers
We are in process where we aren’t going behind so many customers and in turn making this market uncompetitive for them. In short, we are not looking to expand the customer base haphazardly. We are moving forward in a strategic manner. We are approaching those who are focused and are going to buy most of our new products in time to come. Say, for instance, we only have 150 customers here in India, and all of them have confidence in our brand. They know Fujifilm India. They have full faith in us and in our brand. They seem satisfied because they keep on buying our new products. As a result, most of our installations are multi-installations. They have this belief that whatever we say, we mean it.
At Fujifilm, we have maintained a very comfortable relationship with our customers on all fronts in terms of product performance, quality, running cost, service, etc. So, we don’t want to go beyond focused customers just for the sake of selling.
Premium & Value for Proposition that Fujifilm means.
There is a huge opportunity, and we need to pick & choose our customers. At this level, we are not in a spree to buy market share. We know that our prices are at a premium. Customers, who appreciate quality and agree to pay the premium, come forward to opt for this level of technology. Indian customers are slowly learning all this. What is the cost that they pay upfront and what is the actual cost throughout the lifecycle of that equipment. So in essence they opt for the product which gives more value for money in long run.
Today, for example, if someone buys low cost Chinese equipment and save on upfront investment, may find our machine at almost 40 % – 50% premium. But down the line, after one year, the worth of the Low cost Chinese machine comes down to almost 10%-20% of the purchase value, while our machine still commands higher resale value. Further, operating cost of that low cost machine would remain at the higher side when compared with ours. So, if you put all these together, the one who buys our machines is the clever customer because he spends least during the lifetime. This makes him richer despite spending more money initially.
The Prospects of UV
Down the line, in the next three years, UV will be the prominent technology across various industries. Solvent is already phasing out, and eco-solvent has its own limitations. Even the number of machines using eco-solvent is not much. We don’t have eco-solvent flatbed machines. We don’t have eco-solvent machines for rigid media. Latex has just started trying for rigid media, and by the time it would reach to market, people will already become habitual of UV technology.
The market is very big and further expanding. Each one will have his own space to operate. Since major part of the market is untapped, there is a lot to grab for everyone. None will take away any other’s chunk in the pie. I think it’s a win-win situation for all. More people means more competitive market. This will lead to more innovations and improved quality.
UV for Mass Media
Nowadays, mass level advertising itself is coming down. Earlier, outdoor was equal to hoardings. Now the outdoor advertising is more of a restricted advertising in a premium location. The cost of rentals of these locations is continuously on the surge and is too high to compromise on the quality of hoardings to be put. No one would like to lose the branding opportunity by putting low-quality prints. Doing so will not only restrict the visibility of the brand, but also defeat the objective of hiring such a cost space for branding activities. And, this is a very prominent change which has started happening after the introduction of UV. For instance, every metro station has 4,000 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft. of printing opportunity and none of them want shabby printing as it may deteriorate the look and feel of the highly decorated premium space.
Media & Environment
Green is the call of the time and future. So, why should the printing world keep itself away from the movement! Accordingly, it has been promoting only those practices that are not harmful to the nature. No wonder, wherever there is plastic-based media, it is getting replaced by the one which is bio-degradable in nature and hence much more environment-friendly. This media can be fabric, or anything made of polythene-/ plastic-free material will come in to play. There is enough focus on those kinds as the media players are also aware of the situation. For all this, there is nothing to worry for printer manufacturers as today, printers are media-neutral.