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PICA proposes new industry association

July 14, 2011: The Board of PICA has called for feedback from its 33 member companies on proposals to form a new association, the ‘Imaging & Consumer Electronics Association’, with an hierarchical structure and changed set of objectives.

A three-page report was prepared and circulated in May by PICA executive director Paul Curtis (pictured right) outlining the new direction, following a two-day PICA board ‘Vision 2011’ meeting at the Hyatt Regency, Coolum.

The new structure would be governed by a group of senior imaging and CE company executives with majority voting rights, and include several sub-groups, apparently without voting input. These are:
Professional Division: management of companies actively importing professional imaging and consumer electronics equipment and services to Australian or New Zealand;
Consumer Division: management of companies importing ‘consumer imaging and electronics equipment and services into Australia or New Zealand;
Associate Distributor Division: open to anyone who works for distributors in Australia and New Zealand;
Retail Executive Division: management of retailers employing more than 100 staff in Australia or New Zealand;
Retail General Division: all retail staff in Australia or New Zealand;
Imaging & CE Enthusiast Division: open to all ‘with an active interest in the industry.

According to the document, this is a ‘structure similar to the CES in the US’.

(CES is the acronym for Consumer Electronics Show – CEA, the ‘Consumer Electronics Association’ – is apparently the US trade association being referred to – Ed.)

While Australia has a Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association (CESA), the PICA board ‘resolved that there was a need for a new association to operate with a Senior Management Overview’.

There is currently very little overlap between CESA and PICA membership, with only Canon, Panasonic and Sony being members of both groups. CESA has under 50 members.

‘We would be opposed to the creation of a new body, but interested in talking to people wanting to promote consumer electronics to the general public in the form of exhibitions, etcetera’. CESA executive director, Ian McAlister told Photo Counter.

Trade show obsolete

The ‘Vision 2011′ members’ report also dwelt on the status of the annual Australian photographic equipment exhibition as a trade show, noting that ‘trade buyers were rapidly diminishing in numbers’ and concluding the local show had lost relevance as a trade event:
‘…trade buyers in Australia were now using CES, Photokina, Asia or European CE shows as their prime source of product trends information and networking opportunities.’

Consequently, the report stated, the local exhibition needed to be even more consumer-focussed than it now is:
‘The consensus of the meeting was that the primary servicing of trade show delegates was now more than being adequately served by overseas shows. It was agreed that Australia needed a show that would stimulate consumer demand by creating a firm base of informed consumers that were better educated in issues of connectivity and would lead as a spring board to wider consumer awareness of the full potential of today’s imaging and CE products.’

Since the ‘Visions 2011’ report was circulated, PICA has re-assumed management of the annual industry showcase event, which for several years has been under the PMA banner, as reported in Photo Counter last week.

Accompanying this move, there seems to have been a re-think on the balance of the industry-organised show, with PICA president Dave Marshall stating in last week’s report: ‘While strengthening our appeal to consumers, there will be no lessening in serving the special needs of the professional and trade sector exhibitors,

‘Indeed, to the contrary we will be introducing a new format to enhance that market. We have to look right across the industry board to ensure that all exhibitors get the maximum bang for their buck.’

No ‘interpretive journalism’!

The PICA board also supported a suggestion that the PICA Grapevine newsletter be ‘renamed and revamped to reflect the new organisation’ and ‘become the prime source of industry information’. This would be achieved ‘without the use of interpretive journalism’.

Currently there are several websites including this one, Photo & Imaging News, PMA Newsline, Connected Australia and Current providing regular new product information and news to the imaging and consumer electronics channels (with varying levels of ‘interpretive journalism’!). It was not stated whether the new online publication would compete for advertising dollars with existing players, or be subsidised by funds from the annual show.

Objectives of the proposed new association are:
1) That the association be a platform for industry thought leadership to enhance growth and value to the industry
2) Provide Vision on Business Models for Our Industry
3) Seek Commonality of Issues
4 ) Common Research
5) Corporate Responsibility. Execution: Oversea (sic) areas of product stewardship and recycling affecting the industry.
6) Represent the Industry. (Execution: Be a voice to government on tax and other industry issues.)

A three-person steering committee – Dave Marshall (Fujifilm), Allan Corder (Canon) and Richard Bailey (HP) has been appointed.

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