Kodak vs Fuji

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by Thomas C. Finnerty

Thomas C. Finnerty is a doctoral candidate in the Doctoral of Professional Studies Program, Lubin School of Business, Pace University, New York. This case was written under the supervision of Warren J. Keegan, Professor of International Business and Marketing and Director of the Institute for Global Business Strategy, Lubin School of Business, Pace University, New York, as a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a business situation. ©2000 Dr. Warren J. Keegan. *The following case solely represents the opinion of the author and does not express the opinions of the Eastman Kodak Company of Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc.


This case study reexamines the competitive relationship of the two giants of the photographic and imaging industry: Eastman Kodak Company and the Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. It uses the 1990 case study of Dr. H. Donald Hopkins of Temple University, “Kodak vs. Fuji: A Case of Japanese-American Strategic Intervention” as a reference point and attempts to update and clarify this relationship at the beginning of the 21st century. In the nine years since the Hopkins’ case study was published, Kodak has seen some troubled times, yet recently seems to have stabilized. Simultaneously, Fuji continues to slowly gain more of Kodak’s still-dominant market share. The evolution of the industry has been exciting and dynamic, and continues to adapt as consumer’s change. However, new technological players are cause for concern for both Kodak and Fuji. As an employee of the photographic and imaging industry, there are countless sources of information from which I drew my conclusions and knowledge base. My focus was shaped by a broad range of information, including PMA statistics and Nielsen syndicated data reports, and dialogue with photographic customers, consumers, competitors and Fuji employees. I would like to acknowledge the marketing and sales staff at Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. for their historical perspective of Fuji’s existence within the U.S. market, especially since 1990. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Mr. Herb Baer, director of Marketing, Consumer Film and Quicksnaps, for his input, knowledge and assistance.


SUMMARY As retail America is undergoes a dramatic change with the constant consolidation of companies, management must strive to maintain a competitive advantage or risk being acquired. The worldwide success of Wal-Mart has led many to diversify and heed the adage that “bigger is indeed better.” An example in the global grocery industry is the Ahold Group (Netherlands) which now operates in more than 17 countries including their recent acquisition of New York based Pathmark. In the U.S. grocery industry, the merger between Albertson’s and American Stores, and the U.S. Chain Drug landscape has rapidly changed over the last two years with only four major players left standing: CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreen’s, and Eckerd. As the retail community shrinks, they put greater emphasis on their suppliers for quality products at a competitive price that enables them to make healthy margins to attract consumers. If one manufacturer cannot supply the necessary ingredients, retailers will look for other alternatives. This environment has provided an opportunity to shake up an otherwise mature and stable industry such as the photographic industry and has paved the way for a viable competitor to Kodak such as Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. The phenomenon has contributed to Fuji making significant inroads into Kodak’s once commanding U.S. market share in particular and to its global share in general. This case study shows the evolution of the Kodak-Fuji relationship, specifically from Kodak’s perspective. The case study will attempt to show how Kodak has fallen from its lofty mantel and how it has developed strategies to rectify the situation. H. Donald...
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