PetaPixel

Did Sigma Make the SD1 to Serve as the Brand’s “Halo Product”?

Sigma generated a lot of buzz recently after announcing its SD1 DSLR with a $9,700 MSRP, and that’s probably exactly what they were trying to do. As articles all over the Internet questioned why a 14.7MP Sigma DSLR would cost the same price as Pentax’s 40MP medium-format DSLR, Sigma was quick to point out that the camera would actually be selling for a slightly more reasonable street price of $6,900.

A user over on the dpreview forums also made the observation that Sigma usually sets the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) about 30-35% higher than what it actually will sell for in stores (AKA the “street price”). Sigma’s pricing practices and the launch of this uber-expensive DSLR may simply be part of an overarching marketing strategy in an attempt to shed off its reputation as a manufacturer of affordable third-party camera gear.

Ken Rockwell suggests that the company is using the SD1 as a “halo product” to boost its reputation rather than expecting it to be widely adopted:

Huh? Who would pay $6,900 for a sub-15 MP 1.5x crop-factor DSLR that only works with Sigma lenses? No one, but it doesn’t matter. […] These are called “halo” products, and Sigma only makes them to attempt to market its way into the mainstream, at least on the level of third-tier makers like Olympus, Pentax, Fuji, Minolta and Sony.

Simply by offering products at crazy prices, Sigma hopes that it gets some free publicity (as its getting here now) and that some people might make the mistake of presuming that it’s good just because it’s expensive. [#]

Wikipedia describes the “halo effect” this way:

In brand marketing, a halo effect is one where the perceived positive features of a particular item extend to a broader brand. It has been used to describe how the iPod has had positive effects on perceptions of Apple’s other products. The effect is also exploited in the automotive industry, where a manufacturer may produce an exceptional halo vehicle in order to promote sales of an entire marque. Modern cars often described as halo vehicles include the Dodge Viper, Ford GT, and Acura NSX. [#]

By setting an MSRP on the SD1 that the public balked at, Sigma actually succeeded in getting mentioned in publications large and small, and may have also succeeded in having more consumers view the brand in a more favorable light. Has your perception of the Sigma brand changed due to these recent announcements?


Image credits: Halo de Sol by jesusbet, Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Review by tracer.ca, Five iPods by mcwetboy


 
  • Phillip2637

    No, they’re still the company that makes lenses which stop working when I upgrade my camera.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s really pushing it.  Sometimes you get what you pay for, others, it’s just a reckless markup.

    What’s really insulting is that Sigma reps originally mentioned an intention to sell it at 7D prices when they introduced it.  I think Pentax’s medium format camera is a real halo product.  It’s expensive, but it actually has something to show for the price, and if it’s any good, a bargain in the MF market.  Sigma marking up a $2000 SRP camera to $10,000 SRP is beyond the pale.  It might completely turn me off of even considering their products for other lens mounts.

  • Joseph Holmes

    There’s “halo product” and there’s “laughing stock.” And it’s not a fine line.

  • http://www.freeboprich.com freeboprich

    Not that I’m saying he’s wrong, but don’t you get the feeling that Ken Rockwell always acts cynical because it makes him feel like he has some kind of influence? He certainly can’t take it when it comes back at him, just ask Chris Weeks.
    Of course, the fact that’s Ken’s a talentless know-all hypocrite is enough reason to never mention him in a serious photographic news article, I would have thought.

  • Kadarpik

    Technically the camera is not another APS-C or Canon 7D, there are lot of things you can do just with SD1 and not with any MF or 35mm camera.  You can shoot high speed fps in very high resolution, this is typically around 1 fps in MF. You get homogeneous color representation, there are so far only Hassy who does this with multishot for still life. You can shoot high resolution with OIS, Nikon already sued Sigma, because this is real threat. With MF you just can not use tele lenses in natural light. You get very high DOF because of the sensor size and probably higher iso quality per fstop than in MF. 

    What is compared to 35mm, CaNikon must upgrade its sensors and also lenses, and 30 mpixel glass for Bayer gets expensive really. Most users do not know that their previous generation canon I lenses are weaker than current generation Sigmas or Tamrons and their 20+ Mpix sensors are not rally in use. SD1 uses current lens technology.

    Theoretically SD1 beats in some scenes even 40 mpixel cameras, this means loto of red details red light, 40 megapixel camera is only really 10 mpixel here. 

    In my opinion $6000-$7000 is quite fair price for it.

    What is realated to lenses, Sigma is actually capable of producing better lenses and they are evolving, look at 50 F 1.4 or 70 F2.8 macros or even new 70-200 2.8, all very good lenses for 15 mpixel cameras.

  • Igogosh

    it did make me think, but the proof is in the pudding. Let’s see those files with newer lenses:)))

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/4ICL6IDBETCVJR2MYM6MOBX3F4 Rob

    I think Sigma missed the mark by half.  Make this a $4800 camera and it would get a lot of interest.  @jdm8 is right – the Pentax 645D is true “halo” product.  It leads its niche in a number of areas – price, ruggedizing – and is significantly different from anything offered by its main competition (other DSLR makers).  It puts Pentax in the same conversation as Phase One and Hasselblad, something Nikon/Cannon/Sony/Oly cant say.  I shoot Pentax so maybe Im a little biased.  
    Quoting Ken Rockwell reduces the relevance of any article.  “third tier” makers?  Are you kidding me?  And if you havent noticed, Minolta left the camera business a LONG time ago.

  • Andrew

    Ken Rockwell is an idiot.

  • bri

    I don’t understand how that is supposed to make me want to buy Sigma. period.

  • Pingback: Sigma Exec Apologizes to Customers on Twitter for SD1 Price()

  • http://twitter.com/shotslot Saul Molloy

    I’d heard (TOP I think) that people weren’t that impressed with the quality of the SD1 over existing (i.e. being sold for rather less than $9000) cameras, so I have to wonder if it’s really a product that would be of interest to anyone except pixel-peepers. I mean really, it would have to be an incredible improvement to persuade real work-a-day photographers to post with their hard-earned cash.

    On the other subject, Ken seems to hate everyone except Ken, but hey at least he has an opinion I suppose…

  • http://twitter.com/shotslot Saul Molloy

    I’d heard (TOP I think) that people weren’t that impressed with the quality of the SD1 over existing (i.e. being sold for rather less than $9000) cameras, so I have to wonder if it’s really a product that would be of interest to anyone except pixel-peepers. I mean really, it would have to be an incredible improvement to persuade real work-a-day photographers to post with their hard-earned cash.

    On the other subject, Ken seems to hate everyone except Ken, but hey at least he has an opinion I suppose…