Patching Up The Ritz

Another company steeped in the analog tradition is trying to figure out their place in the digital world.

Within weeks, Ritz said in an interview, the company, called Ritz Camera & Image, will reinvent itself in a new ad campaign aimed at drawing a hipper crowd into its stores, which now number around 375.

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They plan to sell smart phones alongside a stock of digital cameras. Customers can supply their digital images and video clips and Ritz will package them onto a DVD, with chapter breaks and music. And if they want LCD HD televisions on which to view those images, they can buy those, too, from Ritz.

The retooled Ritz Camera & Image will “appeal to younger customers who were brought up in the computer-digital world who may not understand everything that photography means to them,” Ritz, 60, said in an interview in his oak-paneled office at the company’s headquarters in Beltsville.

I wonder if the people at Ritz have bothered to talk to this “hipper crowd” they’re trying to turn into customers.

Do they really want physical media like DVDs when it’s so easy to post pictures on the web (for free), create slide shows (for free), embed the show in a web page (for free or very close), and share the results through multiple channels (for free)?

As for video, many people in the demographic Ritz seems to be aiming for don’t care if the end result is all that polished. Normally the video is recorded and posted with little editing in between.

It will be interesting to see what the company does in their transformation, especially since photography is rapidly moving away from the formal process that was at the heart of Ritz’s success for so many years.

I haven’t been in a Ritz store in many years (probably not in their target group for the future anyway), at least since I purchased a DSLR (online, not in a physical store) three years ago.

And there’s nothing in this story about their plans for reorganization that will entice me to return.

Photo by BOSSoNe0013 and used under a Creative Commons License.

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