- Buyer's Guide
Manfrotto Interview :: The Kata Merger
Any sort of rebranding change can be a daunting prospect. When Kata decided it was time for a change, they went a bit further than the likes of tweaking a logo. They ceased to exist – in a sense, at least. However, you don’t need to look hard at Manfrotto to see Kata’s design influences…and there’s a simple explanation for this. Kata has merged with Manfrotto in order to provide customers with a more comprehensive range of photography-related carry options. In any transition of this nature there is bound to be a bit of confusion and questions, so we went straight to the source to find out more courtesy of Bellina Israel, Brand Manager for Manfrotto Photo Bags, as well as Chief Designer Ehud Ziv-Av…
Take us through the reasoning behind moving the Kata bag range into Manfrotto branding…
In this highly competitive and challenging market environment, where brand exposure is maximized by the web and distribution footprint, we understood that focusing on one power brand is the right strategic choice to best serve our customers.
As you know, Manfrotto is a strong brand in the photographic world with global distribution that is second to none. It is well rooted and recognized for dependability, innovation and great design, all attributes which perfectly fit our bags, so for us this was a clear and simple decision.
Does the design and product management team change at all? Does HQ for the bags change?
Behind the Manfrotto bags you will find the same passionate, dedicated and highly experienced team. Of course, with the change we have expanded and new talented members have joined both our product management and R&D teams to support our growing business.
Beyond changing colors, are you making any other design updates in the transition?
Absolutely, we are always updating and upgrading our designs. In the Pro Light transition, in addition to the exterior branding changes we have implemented our new Manfrotto CPS protection technology in the bags.
The CPS was developed when designing Manfrotto’s Professional range. Our R&D team, as experts in protection, set out to take this feature to the next level. They conducted in-depth research and created a real testing and measuring method to identify in each bag where the most impact is absorbed. Based on this new data they developed unique dividers made from 3D foam specially structured to absorb the force of impact and offer more protection than ever before at the heart of the bags, where it is really most vulnerable.
What is the hardest part about swapping the designs between brands?
Like with every change the hardest part is weathering through the transition period in which confusion is inevitable, as both brands are present in the market place. What to us is a clear and simple step forward has to be explained and communicated over and over again, as we are determined to make this important transition as smooth as possible for our customers.
What is the best part about transitioning these designs to Manfrotto?
With the transition our Manfrotto bags family has become a strong and complete range. We are now able to satisfy all the different user needs and desires: from enthusiasts who are looking for a stylish urban accessory (Stile and Stile Plus), through the passionate hobbyists (Advanced), to the more sophisticated professionals who require bags for on the go and location shooting assignments (respectively Pro Light and Professional collections).
How are you going flushing stock through the system?
Stock clearance is always a challenge when such a transition is undertaken, but when prepared for properly it is simply a matter of time and patience and we are very pleased with how this aspect of the transition is progressing.
Are retailers responding well? Are your professional shooters responding well?
Yes, we can say that the positive responses of both retailers and customers have exceeded our expectations. Immediate proof for this support surfaced when we transitioned our Kata Facebook page to Manfrotto Bags. We sent out a letter to all our Kata supporters informing them of the transition and were actually expecting some percentage to unlike our new page, but on the contrary our likes increased by 35%!
With such a strong reputation for tripods, should we expect any fancier hardware sneaking into the bag range? For instance anything tripod inspired?
You should already be seeing a lot of the Manfrotto Support’s DNA in the new ranges; dependability, innovation and great design. You will also note our attention to detail on where and how a tripod can be connected and carried in all our bags; our new Travel Backpack, which is just launching in the Advanced collection, sports a brand new innovative tripod carrying solution, which is dedicated to the fantastic Manfrotto Befree tripod – offering an “on/off” choice to the user.
What awesomeness can we expect in the coming year from Manfrotto bags?
There is a lot of awesomeness to expect, but we can’t go into details, that would be letting the cat out of the bag prematurely… We can say that we will be making sure to keep our promise, which is “wherever your passion for photography leads you, Manfrotto will have the best bag for you” and we will leave this question open with an invitation to the readers to “imagine more…”
What does your team love the most about this bag range? What are the best innovations?
This is a difficult question to answer, we are a big and diverse team and each individual loves different aspects… We can say that what unifies us all is the fact that our products are created for a market that embodies joy and passion and that we all love having this as our starting point for each project.
We’ve seen some other colorways sneaking into the Stile collection. Should we expect any other colorways in the other collections, or is it black and red all the way?
Again I am afraid we cannot reveal our hand at this stage, so we will revert to our invitation to “imagine more…”
How excited are you about the future for Manfrotto bags?
We are very excited; we know we have created a comprehensive and unbeatable range that will stand firmly on the frontline of the photographic market!