Digital has arrived, and been accepted by Jane and Joe Photo, along with the rest of mainstream Americans. It is accepted as the future of imaging, whether its via a compact digicam, digital SLR, cameraphone, or an undeveloped technology, yet to arrive.
According to many of the experts we polled in our annual State of the Industry this month, the next hurdle that we must overcome is educating consumers about their digital cameras.
Consumers have bought into digital, but the majority don't know how to get great photos; don't know the highest quality prints are made at retail; and don't realize the importance of printing photos and archiving their digital files, so they'll have a tangible legacy to leave.
Most consumers just don't know that they should be worried when all their digital images are locked inside a computer or memory card, and not displayed around the home, in the wallet/pocketbook, or office.
Until consumers fully understand what digital can offer, the industry still has a long way to go. The message that digital cameras are more than just a way to take pictures, needs to be communicated to consumers. The digital imaging industry as a whole needs to teach consumers not just how to get their images in the camera, but also how to get them out of the camera, off the media card, and computer, and into prints, and the myriad of output options available nowadays. And, the entire industry also needs to explain to them why they need to get these images out of the camera.
This adage is just as appropriate today: "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, teach him to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."
"Perfect Storm" At Photo Retail
Ted Fox, Executive Director, Photo Marketing Association Int'l.
The photo/imaging industry is in a state of rapid transition. The photo retailer is in the "perfect storm" position of being in one of the hottest retail categories—digital photography—with the added pressure of it also being one of the most competitive. Margins are tight.
To be competitive, the specialty dealer has to be selective. Clearly, the opportunity is there for high-margin sales. The Starbucks example is often overused, but is also pertinent. How can they charge over $5 for a cup of coffee, leisurely preparing it, in today's time-starved culture?
As a photo specialty store, is your product mix weighed too heavily toward 25¢ cups of coffee (4x6s) or are you developing newer, high-margin, exclusive products and services for your customers? Creativity is a strategic advantage for the photo specialist.
We have met the enemy, and it's stuck on the consumer's hard drive. That's the problem. Photo specialty stores should be at the forefront of in-store, online, and home printing, as well as other services like image archiving and multimedia slideshow services. Then, work with those consumers to place their pictures in scrapbooks and on walls with custom framed prints.
Educate Consumers To Avoid Digital Disasters
Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), recently conducted a survey, which found that consumers are largely unaware of the need to back-up digital photos and video. Only 48% of the 1,100 adults surveyed said they back-up all or most of their images, while the same percentage of video isn't backed up at all. Less than half of the consumers surveyed are even concerned about losing their imaging content. This survey demonstrates that industry must continue to beat the drum and encourage content archiving to help consumers avoid disaster. I encourage interested parties to become involved in CEA's efforts by joining our Digital Imaging Special Interest Group (SIG)—www.CE.org/focus.
Earlier this year CEA's Digital Imaging SIG introduced a digital imaging training module as part of our comprehensive, online retail training program, CEknowhow.com. The digital imaging module includes seven chapters that cover everything from digital camera basics to editing, sharing, and storing digital images. This issue also will be a focus of the upcoming 2006 International CES, the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow. Produced by CEA, the 2006 International CES will highlight consumer education and awareness via conference sessions and product showcases to keep industry focused on helping consumers avoid the disaster of losing their photo memories.
CEA forecasts digital camera sales will surpass 23 million units in 2005, adding to the millions of U.S. households that already own a digital camera. But with all these consumers snapping photos with their new digital cameras and camera phones, it's increasingly important for everyone involved in the digital imaging business to help educate consumers about what to do with all their files. This is one of the top issues facing the imaging industry today.
Three Success Concepts For Retailers
Bill McCurry, McCurry Associates
Certainly some imaging retailers are reporting financial frustrations and store closings, however there are also successful stores with wonderful cash flow. Thriving operations show three distinct patterns: