LEICA

Alternative views on the Leica world by Erwin Puts

the fading urge to buy

The current Leica strategy has lots in common with that other German iconic manufacturer, the BMW motorcycle. It is no coincicdence that in 1954 both companies announced the most prestigeous products ever: the Leica M3 and the BMW R50/60/69.
Since then both companies followed the same path: almost killed by mdern japanese companies (Honda Black Bomber and Canon/Nikon F-series)) they stubbornly kept faith in their own competences (the R100 and the M6) and just in time saw the light (watecooled boxer engines and digital cameras (M8-M9). Both companies are actively reflecting on their roots and know that history is an asset in current times of mnimalism and nostalgia. BMW has just announced the R5 Hommage, a pure replica of the classical R5, but with modern technology. Leica has announced the M-D and is working on even more classical-oriented models.The BMW planners however seem to be be more daring and clear-focused and less pre-occupied with marketing research and socail media opinions than the Leica planners.
Modern marketing research has shown that the focus on brand creation and image promotion, focus groups and social media and much of the current maketing hype is useless when one wishes to establish a loyal following.
Leica needs the type of products that BMW has: products with the famous Wow-factor and the instant impulse: this is what I want to have (and buy).
The current Leica cameras and lenses are very competently designed and engineered and offer a performance on a very high level, but not distinguished enough from the competion to warrant the urge to own. A few of course will buy everything Leica makes (the Q seems to be a good seller, but not with the numbers that Fuji or Sony might be satisfied with) but the fact that Leica issues special editions is an indication that normal sales are not what they were. The amount of special editions of the M6 increased at the end of its life cycle. The year 2017 may see a large amount of new announcements that will increase the sales volume, but the true urge to buy has yet to emerge.