Polaroid: The Reinvention of an Iconic Photo Brand

Polaroid: The Reinvention of an Iconic Photo Brand

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If you’ve been wondering whatever happened to the good, old Polaroid brand you may have grown up with, we have an answer. They have reinvented themselves in the digital age over the last few years and are now going strong as they roll into 2015 with several new imaging products—along with an exciting new photo retail concept store that is opening across the U.S. and changing consumers concepts about what to do with their images after they’ve captured them.

We recently caught up with Scott Hardy, Polaroid’s president and CEO, to find out what’s currently going on with this iconic photo brand and what lies ahead.

DIR: What’s new with Polaroid as we say goodbye to 2014 and usher in 2015? What products and innovations are in store for consumers?

SH: We recently unveiled the Polaroid Cube, and as the name suggests, this cube-shaped little camera is our answer to the largely male-dominated action/sports camera category. We worked with a design firm in San Francisco, Ammunition, and our mission for them was to design a product that would appeal to a much broader demographic, consumers who want to capture lifestyle videos and families. We feel there is tremendous potential in what is typically called the action camera category, and by opening this up to a more lifestyle segment, we are expanding this growing market. Additionally, the Polaroid Cube is very easy to use; you just press the button on top to take a 6MP photo or 1080p video. At under $99, with a variety of different types of mounts, we think people will fall in love with the Polaroid Cube.

This lifestyle action cam category is an interesting one to watch as more and more consumers are looking to document their everyday activities. We think the Polaroid Cube will be quite popular within this segment.

We also have some exciting things planned for the coming months, including the launch of the Polaroid Socialmatic camera. This is a very unique product that will become a social media hub for consumers. They will be able to capture their favorite moment, print it instantly using the built-in Zero Ink printer, and then share it on any social media site using the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This camera is truly merging classic Polaroid instant printing with today’s digital capabilities. Another innovative feature is the QR code; every camera and every photo has its own individual QR code. This enables users to scan the code from the picture, view its history, track its whereabouts and continue to share and follow it virtually anywhere in the world—thus building a unique global Socialmatic network. Consumers can also upload images and send it to another Polaroid Socialmatic camera to be printed and shared, allowing the camera to act as a remote printer that’s only accessible to approved network members, regardless of location. At $299 we think consumers will be very excited about this product.

Are consumers beginning to change their behaviors and attitudes toward printing their pictures?

We are seeing that the younger demographic, a group that everyone kind of wrote off as never having interest in printing images, is now discovering this as a kind of novelty. The younger generation is indeed discovering that they love to get a print of their favorite pictures once they see them.

Even though they are digital natives, the novelty of a photo print is not lost on them. Our top-selling analog camera right now is the Polaroid Pic 300, and we’re finding that we’re selling a lot of them to younger consumers.

Also, we are seeing consumers who are starting to miss the physical photo. Now that everything is digital, if you lose your phone or your computer goes down, you could lose all your photos. So people are looking to print out their photos more and more to make sure they have those memories.

This is why Polaroid Fotobar is becoming so popular. We as a society are taking more pictures now than ever before, but we have been hiding them away on our digital platforms. This is starting to change as people realize these memories can be lost. We remain committed to giving consumers new and exciting options for capturing and sharing their memories.

Speaking of Fotobar, can you update us on how the Polaroid Fotobar retail concept is doing?

We’re very excited about what is happening with Polaroid Fotobar. In 2014, we opened the flagship store and Polaroid Museum at the LINQ in Las Vegas, and in the next several weeks we will be opening up seven smaller footprint micro retail locations in Westfield malls in California. We have also expanded the product offering at Polaroid Fotobar, so you can now turn your favorite digital photos into a Polaroid picture printed in three sizes. Additionally, we have developed colorful shadowbox collections to display these Polaroid pictures. We are giving consumers a chance to get very creative with their photo output.

The basic idea here remains the same: to provide consumers with options for their photos, wherever they reside—in cameras or smartphones and on Facebook, Instagram and other digital platforms—to create prints and custom photo products either in store or online.

Smartphones have certainly claimed their place among the masses as a legit image capture device. Are we at the stage yet where they are the going to completely replace point-and-shoot cameras?

Not quite yet, as smartphones still have some limitations, one of those being they are topping out at a 3x zoom experience for consumers. Weatherproofing is another limitation, so the point-and-shoot digital camera market has continued to innovate in these areas as a result. But yes, traditional digital cameras are becoming a specialized market now, and smartphones are improving their imaging capability constantly so let’s see what the future holds here.

There are reports that close to one trillion images were captured in 2014. Based on that number, can you tell us your thoughts on how consumers will organize, store and share their exploding image collections in the years ahead?

That’s a great question, and we agree, consumers need help in this area. They need a better way to be able to document their lives with all the images they are taking today. We are constantly looking at ways to help consumers in this area, and we actually do have a big announcement forthcoming on this front. It’s an exciting partnership that we’ll be announcing this week. You’re correct about this being an issue that needs to be addressed, and people are taking more images today, so solutions here are vital.

As an imaging company, we plan on being involved in this area going forward for sure. polaroid.com

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