In his announcement at Auckland’s Hilton Hotel on Tuesday evening, managing director of Canon Australia, Kenji Kobayashi, first apologised to Canon customers and partners for taking former country manager Craig Manson to Australia, where he will become the senior general manager of the marketing group; a Sydney-based role covering both Australia and New Zealand.
“Honestly speaking,” said Kobayashi, speaking of Manson, “he’s too good just to ask him to work in New Zealand. Craig will be in charge of the whole marketing strategy and structure development, as part of Canon’s global strategy.”
Kobayashi drew on a sporting analogy in speaking of a personal desire to make a “strong scrum” in the relationship between Canon Australia and New Zealand. “To support you, locally in New Zealand, this is very important.”
He then introduced Johnston as the new leader of New Zealand operations. Echoing his comments about Manson, Kobayashi said Johnston was “too good to just concentrate on service activity”, and looked forward to his contribution to expanding Canon in New Zealand.
Johnston picked up on Kobayashi’s comments about New Zealand’s strengths: “We’re doing things extremely well, so come and grab the talent, promote [Manson] into Australia and drive that across Oceania, stop doing things as a single entity – which we do very well, very entrepreneurially and very flexible – build an Anzac scrum.”
Johnston says he has no immediate plans to change Canon’s New Zealand strategy; the change in government has resulted in many organisations reconsidering where they intend to spend their money. “We’re no different to anywhere else in the world,” he says. “Coming from a service industry, figuring out how you’re going to service a population of four million in a country the size of the UK has always been a challenge, and that’s not going to go away.”
The fact Canon is “bucking the trends” in sales of consumer products, says Johnston, is unusual. “But it’s very welcome. If you read the papers, you expect this huge downturn in consumer spending, but in the premium end, we don’t see any drop – people who’ve always had money still have money.”
Johnston says New Zealanders always seem eager for the next best thing. “Whether it’s the next megapixel camera with a bigger zoom or the nicest features or the retro look, we’re not only early adopters, but we like a bit of bling. Our competitors and partners see that, as well.”
Manson’s promotion is significant, says Johnston. “We’re focusing all our marketing effort, our research and effort across Oceania because, effectively, New Zealand consumers and New Zealand business customers are very similar to Australians, so why duplicate that effort?”
This requires a pooling of resources, Johnston acknowledges, and says Manson is definitely the right person for that job. “Especially as we move towards e-commerce, driving that out of Sydney and having a centre of excellence in the marketing area.”