There is a Japanese saying that if you don’t go into the tiger’s den, you won’t get your cub. It means that to get what you want, you have to take risks. Fujifilm incorporates this concept of its country of origin to stay relevant in its 88 years, completed last January 20th. To be able to sustain itself on the shelf where the world’s main companies are located — and not have the same fate as the American Kodak — it is necessary to face and overcome conservative models of Asian culture and abuse of high technology. This is how the well-known company in the photographic film and camera market navigates with ease through other niches not very well known to consumers. Or are you going to say that you knew that Fujifilm has a line of filters dedicated to the production of beer and wine? Or were you aware that the company manufactures cosmetics, medicines and has data storage solutions?
All this is part of the business diversification put into practice over the last two decades. And it also has the medical division, imaging diagnostics with devices and services, a segment that has stood out in the Brazilian market, where Fujifilm installed its first branch outside Japan, in 1958, today commanded by executive Shin Tagawa. “This sector was one of those in which Fujifilm registered, globally, very expressive advances, with Brazil having a relevant participation in the results achieved”, said the president to DINHEIRO. “Brazil continues to play an important role for Fujifilm and is one of the markets in which we expect to obtain the greatest growth in share.”
Fujifilm’s medical division has existed since 1936. Two years after the company was founded, the line of business was created with the development of its first x-ray machine. The first digital radiography machine was launched in the early 1980s. Despite decades of expertise, the sector has become more prominent for the company in recent years. Today, medical equipment and services are responsible for half of global revenue, which in 2020 (fiscal year ended March 2021) closed at US$ 20.1 billion, with net income of US$ 1.67 billion. In Brazil, this division is also the most important and has gained even more expression with the Covid-19 pandemic. Both the public and private areas promoted investments to structure the service system. “The healthcare segment was one of those in which Fujifilm registered, globally, very expressive advances, with
Brazil having a relevant share in the results”, said Tagawa, without exposing the numbers that are strategic and coveted by competitors.
The company’s health line has a portable X-ray device, called Xair, devices for breast cancer examination (including the possibility of biopsy) and the proprietary digital system for remote diagnosis and diagnosis, Dri-Chem, which delivers complete blood test results in just two minutes. The entire apparatus can be connected to computers and thus work with built-in Artificial Intelligence for faster and more efficient diagnoses. There is also the Synapse 3D system, software for advanced image visualization and analysis. With it, it is possible to record images of organs of the human body, separate them from each other and view them in 3D on the computer screen. Other magnetic resonance and tomography equipment should reach the Brazilian market soon, after the purchase of Hitachi Diagnostic Imaging by Fujifilm in the middle of last year. Efforts are now focused on the company to expand into the healthcare market on the European continent. Emerson Stein, director of the Image and Graphics Division at Fujifilm Brasil, is optimistic about future business that should be generated here. “We are looking to the future.”
Fujifilm also shines its light on the Brazilian pet market, which moved BRL 50 billion in 2021, according to a projection by Instituto Pet Brasil. The Japanese company has sought to expand its participation in this niche with approved veterinary diagnostic solutions adapted from products already used in human health.
DIVERSIFICATION One of Fujifilm’s most interesting lines of business is filters for beer and wine production. Present in Japan, it is undergoing adaptation tests to reach the Brazilian market. From studies on photographic film, researchers tested micro holes in the film. The product advanced to a membrane capable of filtering the yeast fermentation particle and thus avoiding the pasteurization process. A similar process is done with wine. It is also possible to filter the water to make it extremely pure for use in liquid crystal displays.
“The company stands out for betting on business rather than selling or abandoning projects over time” Emerson Stein, Director of Image and Graphics at Fujifilm.
Still in the field of products that we never imagined that Fujifilm would manufacture is Prescale, the only pressure measurement film in the world, widely used in the automotive industry for testing the junction of engines, brakes and tires. The film measures the pressure balance, the distribution of applied force and the size of the surface reached. So, before assembling motors in series, for example, Prescale reveals whether the joint fit is uniform. The same goes for closing flip smartphones.
Data storage is another aspect of Fujifilm. In boxes measuring 10cm x 10cm, magnetic tapes store up to 30 terabytes compressed. They are used by banks, the film industry, televisions and hospitals to record sensitive data. There is also the participation of the company in the field of medicines. With partners, it develops a drug for Ebola in Africa, Alzheimer’s in the United States and even supplies for a Covid-19 vaccine. Cosmetics are also in the company’s portfolio, under the Astalift brand. “The company stands out for betting on business instead of selling or abandoning projects over time. It focuses on developing multiple sources of income,” said Stein, who worked at Kodak, a US company in the same industry as Fujifilm but did not have the foresight to go into the tiger’s den to get its cub.
Ellen Salomão, management specialist and author of the book Gestão Digital, stresses that companies need to look at changes in consumer behavior and be open to trends. “Investing in research and listening to customers, as Fujifilm did, is important to keep an up-to-date view of the world.”
For Rubens Massa, professor at the Entrepreneurship and New Business Center at FGV, the Japanese company’s business diversification is positive. The fact that it is a brand known worldwide, strong and with credibility, plays on its side, but it has to define its vocation. “Spraying the divisions cannot be the end of the process. It has to continue that transformation and go back to being a symbol of something again.” It’s like another Japanese saying teaches: a tree is known for its fruit, that is, people recognize you for what you do.
PHOTOGRAPHY Even with innovations and expansion of the portfolio, Fujifilm remains active in the market of cameras, films and developments. In 2022, the brand’s XSeries line of digital cameras turns ten years old. They are equipment aimed at amateur, advanced and professional photographers. Among the launches, on January 14th the company announced the Instax Mini 11 BTS version Butter, a small camera with instant photo development the size of a credit card. And in February, the Pic&Go, a photographic printing totem that comes to meet consumer demand, begins to be disseminated in Brazil, said Emerson Stein, director of Fujifilm. “Before, there was a station or a print shop on every corner. Things have changed, but there is a gap for people who want to print 5, 10, 20 photos.” The solution, which downloads images from the website and has a built-in payment tool, was developed in Brazil. “Fuji invests in photography because it believes it has space,” said the executive.
An important Japanese saying defines it: vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare. It means that thinking about opportunities and not putting them into practice is useless. On the other hand, acting without thinking generates great risk of unforeseen events and disasters. With planning and creativity, Fujifilm follows the proverbs of its countrymen. To look good in the photo.
“We seek adaptation and preservation of our own identity”
What are the characteristics of the Brazilian market that make the company treat the country as an important region?
Brazil is an important market for any company that intends to have a global presence, such as Fujifilm. Not only because it is a large market, but also because it is a rapidly developing country, which is among the 12 largest economies in the world and will certainly maintain a prominent economic position in the coming decades. Our presence in Brazil has been around for almost 70 years and the country continues to play a leading role in Fujifilm’s global operation.
How representative is it in terms of global revenue and in Latin America?
Fujifilm only discloses information regarding the company’s global operations. Brazil, however, continues to play an important role in Fujifilm’s results and is one of the markets in which we expect to obtain the greatest growth in share. In relation to Latin America, Brazil is certainly the main market.
What are the main investments made in recent years by the company in the Brazilian operation?
We have sought to grow organically, always attentive to the needs of the Brazilian market. The same goes for the after-sales structure, crucial in maintaining the relationship with our customers. Fujifilm’s after-sales service in all areas of the company’s operations has received significant investments in Brazil to assure our customers that they will have immediate assistance in case of problems, whether in the form of qualified technical services or the availability of spare parts, so that your operations have the least possible downtime.
What makes a nearly 90-year-old company remain relevant?
It is certainly the ability to innovate. And, in addition, to accompany the changes of time, always seeking the adaptation and preservation of their own identity. In response to the rapid decline in demand for photographic film since 2000, Fujifilm reinvented itself to achieve the “Second Foundation” (the company’s second phase) and dramatically changed its business structure utilizing its assets such as the variety of unique technologies developed over many years, corporate culture, brand and financial strength. Fujifilm is committed to becoming a company that can create change.
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