Kodak offers cut-price film

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The Independent Online
EASTMAN KODAK, bowing to pressures that have forced dozens of other premium brands into discounting, is to offer North American consumers a low-price version of its best-selling film during weak sales periods.

Funtime, a 'modified version' of its Gold films, will sell for about 20 per cent less but will be distributed only twice a year, in April and September, for two months at a time.

To avoid cannibalising sales of its main brand, which commands about 70 per cent of the film market, Funtime will be shipped in limited quantities and removed from store shelves before the peak summer and Christmas seasons.

The move - one of the first initiatives of the new management that took over late last year - represents a big departure from brand- management policies at Kodak, which has long refused to consider introducing economy labels.

But as with other consumer products, ranging from cigarettes to nappies, tastes among amateur photographers have shifted dramatically towards lower-priced rivals since 1990.

While Kodak Gold still dominates the snapshot market in North America, its market share has slipped almost 10 percentage points in recent years, at the expense of cheaper brands such as Fujifilm and Agfa, and the big retailers' own- label film. Own-label sales rose as much as 15 per cent in the first nine months of 1993, while sales of Kodak Gold rose only 3.5 per cent.

'This is the (film) industry's version of Marlboro Friday,' said one Wall Street analyst yesterday, comparing the announcement with the market-rocking news last April that Philip Morris was lowering the price of its best-selling cigarette brand to compete with discount labels.