As Hasselblad ditches its Italian-designed Lunar CSCs, touted as the ‘ultimate luxury’ when unveiled in 2012, CEO Perry Oosting explains why ‘luxury’ is now banned; yet, Hasselblad still needs to widen its market.
Hasselblad CEO Perry Oosting [credit: Andy Westlake]
In an interview with Amateur Photographer, Oosting also revealed how he wants to put the product first and retain a ‘premium photography’ focus with a nod to Victor Hasselblad’s vision as a maker of cameras, not only for professionals, but for a wider audience passionate about photography.
‘We are not luxury goods. The word luxury is banned in the company,’ retorts Oosting when asked if he wants Hasselblad to be a pure photography brand, rather than adopt the ‘luxury’ goods tag associated with the now discontinued Lunar models, one of which sported an olive-wood grip.
‘I don’t want to hear the word luxury …’
As a former managing director at Prada and Bulgari – and ex-commercial director at Gucci – this may come as a surprise to some. But the Dutch-born CEO is adamant there is no room for ‘bling’ at a company whose photographic history dates back to 1841.
Not that he is averse to a touch of luxury away from Hasselblad’s office in Gothenburg. ‘You know what luxury is?’ reflects Oosting with the hint of someone looking forward to his next holiday. ‘Luxury is sitting with a good glass of red wine in Tuscany with friends, having a really great spaghetti – that is absolute luxury… there is no other luxury in my personal opinion.’
‘For me, we are not a luxury brand. We are a premium photography brand…’
‘Respect’ for history
While Oosting wants the firm to ‘respect’ its heritage and be proud of its association with optical quality, ‘iconic design’ and Swedish craftsmanship, for example – which he describes as the firm’s USPs [unique selling points] – he also wants a future Hasselblad to embrace the photographer’s ‘unique imaging experience’.
‘In the long term, Hasselblad could be playing a part in that. And that was also the vision of Victor Hasselblad. It’s not that we got away from the brand. [Victor] wanted to make great photography for a wider audience. The V system was not only for professional users, it was for people who were passionate about photography…’
As Hasselblad moves with the times, it seems that video functionality – as featured on the new 100MP H6D – will be part of the photographer’s imaging experience. So, would Hasselblad consider targeting a separate market for filmmakers?
‘Yeah, I think this is something we need to explore,’ said Oosting, who was appointed Hasselblad CEO in early 2015. Oosting indicated that he would like to see Hasselblad cameras available to a wider range of users. Perhaps a digital XPan? Oosting remained tight-lipped, only saying the firm is working on ‘new things’.
Price cut widens audience
He pointed out that, to some extent, Hasselblad has already made moves to open up its medium-format market by slashing the price of its ‘entry-level’ H5D-50 to $12,500 as part of a promotion last Christmas.
The move paid off by triggering a three-times increase in lens sales. ‘We did 25% of our annual volume by that price point in one month.’
Oosting said the plan to widen its market doesn’t stop there. ‘But we need to do it when we are ready, when we can do it and when we can deliver quality and value to this proposition.’
Perhaps Hasselblad’s current user base will help its cause. Oosting regards Hasselblad as a camera for ‘creatives’ and ‘very different’ to Leica whose cameras are aimed at photojournalists, for example.
‘If someone has the legitimacy to attract a wider audience I think it should be us. It sounds arrogant and it’s not meant like that.’
Asked about Hasselblad’s current financial position, Oosting conceded that the future will not be ‘a walk in the park’, and the firm will not have the ‘craziest marketing budgets’.
But he believes the company is investing in the right areas of business and, crucially, putting the ‘product first’.
‘That’s the most important thing. Otherwise you end up like a marketing air balloon… that’s what we try to avoid.’