The Day of the Drone

Author – Charl Benckendorff | Student ID: 216201542

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(Source: Geo Sense. Image by Unknown)

Drones, as a consumer product, have really only hit the big time in the last 6 years thanks to some big key players, REALLY BIG PLAYERS! In 2006 DJI was founded by Frank Wang. Today DJI is worth $3.6 billion. It holds a large majority share in a very competitive market.

drone_share

(Source: sUAS News. Image by Unknown)

From a product positioning perspective, drones appeal to majority photographers (52%), from amateur teenagers through to prosumers (professional consumers). With the ability to shoot amazing aerial photographs and videos DJI have turned amateur photographers into professionals. One strong point of the DJI drones is that they can accommodate a GOPRO camera for further cross brand functionality.

In overlaying the Product Life Cycle (PLC) graph over the below graph you could draw the conclusion that that DJI has had a relatively slow market introductory from 2009. This is however not uncommon where technology is new to the consumer. In DJI’s case it’s a product developed and made in China, immediate perceptions may suggest its cheap with average quality. Until 2009 only DIY hobbyist used drones as well as the military. The mass market was somewhat ungroomed albeit the product was developed from the bottom-up stemming from the tech savvy DIY hobbyist movement. As can be seen from the below graph from 2012 onwards, DJI as a brand, excelled as sales growth skyrocketed into what Iacobucci (2014) categorises as the market growth phase. What helped DJI was the partnering with potent pitchman, Colin Quinn. Colin was a gifted marketing guru who solely developed DJI’s market penetration into America. Today over 30% of DJI’s revenue is from the North American market outstripping sales from America’s local brand 3D Robotics.

0505_drones-mkt-share-chart_1200

(Source: Forbes. Image by Unknown)

DJI is enjoy a fruitful growth phase and it is far from over. With new product lines being released at least yearly in both the consumer and prosumer market, DJI are buzzing. In the B2B space there has been considerable interest. Early last year Accel Partners poured $75 million into DJI as a venture capitalist to grow the ‘drone ecosystem’. In more recent news, Measure, a company that specialises in commercial drones has partnered with DJI in using it’s drones for applications such as mapping, imaging, agriculture and mining. Additionally, a company called Zipline, has received $18 million in venture capital is using drones to deliver medical supplies to remote locations such as parts of Rwanda. ‘Doctors without borders’ will soon be a mainstream service.

TOP20-VC-funded-drone-companies

(Source: Crunchebase, Droneil.com)

The drone industry is seeing very high growth. Consumer confidence and its applications in in the commercial arena will continue to see DJI’s successful upwards trajectory. As a very fast emerging brand name, DJI is known for high quality and consistency as a drone manufacturer. DJI have been able to develop their unique brand personality over a long period of time by creating an emotional bond with their exquisite aerial drone photography of holidays, weddings and adventures, Aaker, (1996). The company’s slogan, ‘The future of possible’, plays further on the customer relationship with the brand communicating it’s at the forefront of future innovation. Shirazi (2013) writes, although brand identity is regarded as the most fundamental asset to a brand’s equity, the worth of a brand’s identity would become obsolete without ongoing brand communication.

According to Kotler et al. (2009), a brand’s identity may deliver four levels of meaning as below. The secret in DJI although its selling drones it’s also selling memories in the form of personal photos and videos.

Attributes – DJI provides a product that sets it apart from its competitors. It’s a competitive price point, renowned quality and advances in technology are second to none.

Benefits – DJI brings a new enhanced experience to the everyday photographer and professional. You can now capture aerial photography in Full HD from perspectives rarely achieved.

Values – DJI has captured the consumer who values the next level of photography. Their slogan ‘The future of possible’ sums this up in capturing photos and video with a high degree of quality.

Personality – DJI brand identity provides that personal interaction with the brand.

In doing a quick search on Gumtree there was no shortage of older DJI drone models for sale. Within the descriptions more often than not the reason for sale is simple: Selling due to upgrading to a new DJI model. This is a positive sign as far as brand loyalty is concerned. DJI as a brand has captured the market and emotionally attached customers for repeat sales – well done DJI, well done. We can all look forward to DJI’s continual growth and advances in the commercial space in the very near future.

References

Aaker, D. (1996) Building Strong Brands, New York: The Free Press

 Chitty, W (2005). integrated marketing communications. Thomson

 Iacobucci, D 2014, Marketing Management (MM4), Student Edition, South Western, Cengage Learning, Mason USA.

 Forbes (2016). Founder and CEO of DJI. [Online] Forbes. Accessed at: http://www.forbes.com/profile/frank-wang/ [Accessed on 26th August 2016]

 Fulco, M (2015). For DJI, the Sky is the Limit. [Online] CKGSB Knowledge. Accessed at: http://knowledge.ckgsb.edu.cn/2015/09/28/china/for-dji-the-sky-is-the-limit/ [Accessed on 26th August 2016]

 Kay (2016). These are the TOP20 VC-funded drone companies to have on your radar in 2016. [ Online] Drone Industry Insights. Accessed at: https://www.droneii.com/top20-vc-funded-drone-companies-2016 [Accessed on 26th August 2016]

 Kotler, P (2009). Principles of marketing. Pearson Education, Australia

 Measure (2016). The Next Generation of Commercial Drones: Measure and DJI. [Online] Measure. Accessed at: http://www.measure.aero/the-next-generation-of-commercial-drones/ [Accessed on 26th August 2016]

 Mortimer, G. (2015). Forty eight percent of commercial drone platforms in the USA made by DJI. [Online] sUAS News. Accessed at: http://www.suasnews.com/2015/06/forty-eight-percent-of-commercial-drone-platforms-in-the-usa-made-by-dji/ [Accessed on 26th August 2016]

 Nambiar, R (2016). How Rwanda is using drones to save millions of lives. [Online] CNBC. Accessed at: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/27/how-rwanda-is-using-drones-to-save-millions-of-lives.html [Accessed on 26th August 2016]

 Nicas, J. and MacMillan, D (2915). After Fresh Investment, Chinese Drone Maker DJI Valued at About $8 Billion[Online] The Wall Street Journal. Accessed at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-drone-maker-dji-raises-75-million-from-accel-partners-1430915407 [Accessed on 26th August 2016]

 Popper, B. (2015). DJI is about to be come the first billion dollar consumer drone company. [Online] The Verge. Accessed at: http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/12/8196413/dji-drone-funding-billion-dollar-sales [Accessed on 26th August 2016]

 Shao, H. (2015). Drone Overlord Frank Wang On DJI’s Milestones, Miscarried GoPro Partnership & Corporate Espionage. [Online] Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesasia/2015/05/07/drone-overlord-frank-wang-on-djis-milestones-miscarried-gopro-partnership-corporate-espionage/#2e0ead6e3012 [Accessed on 26th August 2016]

 Shirazi A, Lorestani HZ, Mazidi AK. (2013) Investigating the effects of brand identity on customer loyalty from social identity perspective. Iranian Journal of Management Studies. 6(2):153-78.

 Snow, C (2016). Insights from New Market Research on Drones Sales. [Online] Drone Analyst. Accessed at: http://droneanalyst.com/2016/04/25/insights-from-new-market-research-on-drones-sales/ [Accessed on 26th August 2016]

 

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