A Casio Tr150 selfie camera.
In the buzzing basement alleys of Beijing's Tai Koo Li shopping plaza, a newly opened shop measuring no more than 30 square meters has been attracting much attention of late.
Equipped with a makeup salon, the cutesy cuboid sells only one kind of gadgets－compact selfie cameras, which have proved to be a sensation among female consumers.
The Casio Exilim Tr store is unlike other digital-ware peddlers on the floor. It sells only Casio's Tr-series cameras, widely known for their selfie function. Late last year, the brand launched the Tr Mini.
It's a round, compact, mirror-like camera that was designed just for taking selfies. The camera looks like a girl's pocket-size makeup mirror. It has only a front camera, a screen display and eight small bulbs installed around the mirror-like screen. Their special light makes the figure appear softer and skin brighter in images taken with the camera.
At first look, Casio appears to be risking failure by making such 3,500 yuan (6) selfie cameras in the age of sophisticated smartphones that can do the job, and more, at far lower prices. But Casio may be know a thing or two about Asian girls' and women's long quest for that perfect selfie.
"It's a clever design," said Chen Xinyi, 26, while passing by the Exilim Tr store. "It looks like a makeup kit, so people won't notice if I take a selfie in public. With this one, no one will think I'm a narcissist."
Takashi Niida, manager for digital imaging at Casio's global marketing division, said Chinese females upload their selfies on social media as if they were in a beauty competition. "Chinese are more willing to share their own pictures, but in Japan people are still shy and prefer to share pictures of food and landscapes," Niida said.
So, the Tr Mini targets non-Japanese Asian females.
That could prove a game-changer. For, not long back, after the advent of smartphones, global sales of small digital cameras plunged from 100 million units in 2011 to 12.58 million units in 2016, according to data from the Camera & Imaging Products Association, which is based in Japan.
But Niida is confident the Tr Mini, with its sharp focus on just one extremely popular function and cute looks of an on-the-go makeup mirror, will not only remain competitive in the market but also continue to appeal to female consumers.
His confidence stems from the fact that selfie cameras had rescued Casio's declining camera business in 2015.
According to a report in The Paper, a Shanghai-based news website, digital cameras had been Casio's dead weight from 2008 to 2011. The segment was not generating a profit.
But, after Casio launched its first selfie camera in 2012, the digital camera business broke even the same year and, riding surprising popularity among Asian female consumers, started to make profit from 2013.
In 2015, the group's annual profit was 50 billion yen (4 million) with the digital camera segment contributing almost 10 percent of it.