Japanese Camera Store Provides a Fascinating Look at Changing Trends

Japanese camera store

A Japanese camera store has updated its sales floor and strategy in response to not only greatly growing demand but also consumer buying trends. It has also noted that what buyers want is becoming increasingly polarized.

PhileWeb, spotted by Digicame Info, interviewed the store chief of Bic Camera Yurakucho in Japan and found a sales floor that was “buzzing” with activity and provides several interesting notes about the camera industry in 2023. For starters, it looks like many of the problems that have been apparent in the industry since the pandemic have lifted.

The large camera store reports that the shortage of products, an issue that was global but particularly impacted Japan, has all but been resolved. Popular new products are making their way to store shelves nearly twice as fast as they were just a year or two ago. While it can still take a bit of a wait to get the newest products from all manufacturers, “there are no cases of waiting for six months like before.”

Bic Camera says that something it has noticed is that what consumers are demanding is becoming increasingly polarized: it’s either a vlog camera or it’s one with a full-frame sensor in many cases with very little in between.

That is to say, what young buyers are looking for versus what established enthusiasts want is quite different. Younger buyers (aged 20 to 30) are becoming more focused on small, compact, vlog-style cameras while established enthusiasts are are almost always putting a priority on bigger sensors.

While the vlog-style trend has come and gone in the west, it appears to be escalating in popularity for Japanese buyers. That’s not entirely unexpected. While technology is developed in the country, it does take longer for it to be adopted domestically compared to how quickly it proliferates in the United States.

Palm-sized cameras like the new Instax Pal, Canon’s PowerShot V10, and the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 are some of the most popular cameras among younger buyers.

“What young people want is something that is easy to use. They have the impression that conventional cameras are difficult to use because they have to be configured in various ways. Touch-operated devices that are similar to smartphones are gaining popularity,” the camera store says.

Full frame cameras are surging in popularity at the other end of the spectrum, but the standouts are those that remain compact despite the big sensor. The camera store says the stigma of “full frame equals heavy” has finally been erased and that the cameras are far more accessible. To that end, Sony’s a7C and a7CR are quite popular.

Traditional enthusiasts care about full-frame first and foremost, but what are being described as “hobby cameras” are particularly popular — the Nikon Zf is a “big hit.”

In-store comparisons in brand and between brands is a new strategy that the sales floor is trying and with great success. Buyers are responding well to seeing what makes one camera different from another as the camera store cannot assume buyers know enough about every company to make that distinction for themselves. It’s another note that shows general interest in photography is rising, even if these new buyers aren’t sure what they’re looking for.

The biggest takeaway is that demand is coming back and is strong. That sentiment, while based only on one store in Japan, does have hard data to back it up. The latest CIPA report shows shipments to Japan are 118.6% of what they were during the same period last year. Shipments globally are also up, which is a great sign for the industry as a whole.

Image credits: Header photo of Yodobashi Camera Store — another popular camera store chain in Japan — by Photo by Kentaro Toma