Over the years, Eastman Kodak has changed its marketing as technology advanced, consumer behavior shifted, and competition intensified.
The company was founded in 1888 to make simple box cameras for consumer use; in 1889, it introduced its first film product. Shelves full of Kodak's bright yellow film boxes were a familiar sight in photo stores and tourist attractions for decades.
Seeking new customers, Kodak began selling instant cameras and film in 1976, a challenge to instant-photo pioneer Polaroid. By 1986, after a decade-long fight with Polaroid over patent issues, Kodak stopped selling instant cameras and film.
By the turn of the 21st century, the digital photo revolution was underway. Film sales, once a source of steady revenue for Kodak, were dropping and the company finally refocused on a new digital strategy, including entry into the inkjet printer market. Inkjets have helped Kodak complete the transition to a digital product portfolio capable of attracting both consumers and commercial customers.
The company's recent ad campaign has put the spotlight on cameras that facilitate photo sharing--a key benefit for consumers connecting via social media. No more yellow boxes of film, just speedy image capture and click! posting to Facebook or YouTube or other popular sites.
Speaking of social media, Kodak is very active in that space, with blogs, Facebook pages, a YouTube channel, Twitter accounts, and more. It also offers free downloadable publications with social media tips and mobile marketing tips.
Can this new marketing picture, focused on younger consumers and featuring social media, return Kodak to profitability by 2012, its target date?