Camera shutter, that is. In a growing trend since the industry exodus of film to digital, 2005 marked a major shift in buying behavior, with women responsible for the majority of primary purchases made in the U.S. This momentum has continued to color the marketing landscape as we step into the second fiscal quarter of 2008-women now control 53% of primary purchases in the imaging sector, not to mention 80% of all consumer purchases. As we move out of the dark ages of darkrooms and white picket fences, women continue to move into photo specialty stores in droves, shedding some much-needed light onto the grey aisles of retail shops, and perfuming the sometimes cynical halls of tradeshows. Accounting for 66% of digital camera users in the U.S. (20022008 PMA Camera/Camcorder, Digital Imaging Surveys), women also have a stronghold over print sales, with 68% of all household printing controlled by women. Preserving family mementos has historically been a matriarchal duty, and the millennial mom, grandmother, and aunt are more technologically adept than their predecessors, which creates openings for new revenue streams like photobooks, scrapbooks, collages, and photo accessories like blankets, jewelry, and bags, transforming the industry from profession to lifestyle overnight.
Much like the rest of the world, retailers have had to look at the numbers and wonder: "Is my operation women-friendly?" According to MARTI BARLETTA, CEO and founder of the TrendSight Group, and author of The Soccer Mom Myth: Today's Female Consumer, part of learning how to better accommodate women is first recognizing that they are a massive piece of the purchasing puzzle. "The only thing that we hear about in the news media is how women bring home 76-cents to every dollar that a man makes," says Barletta. "What we don't hear is that women bring home 55% of the average household income; that 27% of U.S. households are headed by single women; or that in 30% of coupled households, wives earn more than their husbands." Indeed, women are by far the dominant spenders in today's economy, filling higher-level positions in companies and retiring with more freedom than ever before.
In fact, who retailers need to listen to, besides Jennifer, is her generational predecessor, the 50- to 60-year-old grandmother creating family heirlooms like photobooks and collages. According to Barletta, this group of baby boomers-who she coins "Prime Time Women"-are the next big thing since Jennifer, mainly because they have both the time and money to invest in a hobby such as photography. "In the 10 years between 2006 and 2016, the total population of the U.S. is going to grow by 23 million; of that, more than 22 million of the growth will be in the demographic segment of people over 50," says Barletta. "When boomers step over the big 5-0 threshold, not only do they grow the rest of that population, but they leave a big hole in the ranks underneath." Barletta warns retailers that "if you can't find a way to stay relevant to these boomers, then you can kiss your bottom line goodbye."
Stay Relevant Through Dialogue
Relevance for independent retailers means creating and maintaining long-lasting relationships with clients. And whether a Jennifer mom or a Baby Boomer grandmother, studies show that women are looking for a more personal experience when they're shopping. Independent retailers have an advantage over big chain stores because they have more leeway to address consumers' specific needs since they're smaller and local. "Advertise the fact that you're in the neighborhood," says Barletta.
She describes one of her own experiences at a local photo shop: "I wanted to get some 8x10s framed for my family for Christmas, so I walked up to my local photo retail shop (which was about six blocks away from my home) to browse. I wound up buying 18 frames. I hadn't planned on actually purchasing anything that day, so I asked the retailer if he could hold my purchase while I got my car. Instead, he offered to drop off the frames at my home. With this single action, he doubled the amount of traffic to his store because I went home and told my friends."
Research has shown that women speak three times more than men do (some studies even say 20,000 words per day, and, on average, 250 words per minute), so it seems fitting that most of those words are to friends and family about everyday experiences. "The principal way to get women talking about your store is to surprise and delight them with your services," suggests Barletta. "Do something she doesn't expect."
Women are three times more likely to recommend a product or store to another person, so tapping into that element of surprise is essential to establishing repeat clients. "Women are looking for service that goes beyond just friendly and helpful," says Barletta. This includes being tuned into what your female client is asking for. "Retailers have to deal with the fact that women like to be shown products in the context of the solution they are working on, so they don't care if the camera is 4, 5, or 10 megapixels; they care if the camera will be effective in taking their family's pictures," says DIMITRIOS DELIS, director of marketing research at PMA.
The best way to learn what those solutions are is easy: just ask. According to HOLLY BUCHANAN, who specializes in marketing to women for the company Future Now, a New York Citybased interactive marketing optimization firm, creating a dialogue with women is half the battle: "Ask women what you can do to better meet their needs and they will tell you if they feel that you are being genuine." Stay away from labeling your customers in general, and don't pigeonhole women, she advises.
"Also, follow up after the sale; get their email address," she says. "Email is a beautiful thing, because if you follow up with a phone call it feels intrusive, but if you have an email address, your client can communicate with you on their own time."
When you aren't emailing your customers, maintain a fluid relationship through your website. "Women are going online in record numbers," says Buchanan. "A female client will go to a website to ask questions because she's afraid of looking like she doesn't know what she's talking about in the store. Research has found that more women are going on discussion boards and blogs to find answers. These channels are also a great way to build rapport with other women."
Create a Look That Appeals to Women
In-store aesthetics can make or break a purchasing decision. Women are less inclined to make a buying decision without first being influenced by the store environment. Keep your aisles wide to better accommodate women with strollers. And the wider the aisle, the more visible the displays need to be.
"Put together displays that women can view from farther away," says PMA's Delis, which will get women to do and buy more things in your store. "A lot is possible since the transition from film to digital, but we need to provide a platform where the consumer can see and get inspired by the product and learn how to use them."
Delis suggests three easy ways to bolster this type of inspiration:
- Display products (as opposed to keeping them inside the box)
- Place products into different sections of your store based on functionality instead of its specific photo category
- Work with manufacturers to provide better packaging of items. "Efficient packaging will help express functional aspects of the product through images instead of words," says Delis. "Also, people are used to processing information from left to right, so have the product on the left and a description on the right."
According to LIZ CUTTING of The NPD Group, women are more motivated to make purchases if products are offered in packaged deals. "In NPD's Digital Camera Market Basket Study released in October 2007, gender differences were clear in accessory-buying behavior," she explains. "Women, both compact DSC and DSLR buyers, were more likely than men to desire a bundle of items included within the price of their digital camera: 58% of female compact DSC buyers and 66% of female DSLR buyers wanted a package deal. More than men, women mentioned extended warranties, accessory kits, and camera setup/training as items they'd like to see included in a camera bundle."
Women and men essentially want the same things in terms of the end product; however, the ways in which they achieve these things tend to differ-by which degree is a matter of individuality, and that's why retailers, as always, need to be open to inquiry and willing to listen to the needs of their clients before offering solutions. "Consistency is key," says Buchanan. "Be authentic and sincere across all of your marketing channels-women need to feel like you're being honest."
Gender-Effective Best Practices (According to Marti Barletta)
- take advantage of the fact that you're local
- have a website that speaks to people. Have pictures of people in your store, testimonials-NOT JUST CAMERAS!
- hold a monthly event in your store
- participate in community service
- It's not all about having a store; it's about creating a relationship with your customer
While women are the purchasers of most any type of items, from photofinishing to cameras and camcorders, photo gifts and books, we've gathered together some of the hottest products around- digital picture frames (in a wide variety of sizes and styles) as well as photo novelty and gift items that are wonderful impulse buys.
aperion (www.aperioninc.com) introduced new designs for Springtime. Designs include Easter photo bookmarks, scrapbook pages and new baby announcements. Using such holiday/seasonal designs lets you create a wide range of photo printing opportunities for your customers throughout the year, not just in winter.
BROOKE INTERNATIONAL (www.brookecutters.com) offers a range of unique photo gift/novelty items including its Hope Jigsaw Puzzle Machines-for the retailer or lab to create puzzles in-house from their customers' images. The company also offers Crystal imaging Products, which use an inkjet printer to output images onto a substrate that can be transferred to any hard surface.
CEIVA LOGIC (www.ceiva.com) expanded its line of digital picture frames with four additions this year, including the Ceiva Pro 190. The Ceiva Pro 190 was designed fro the diehard photo enthusiast with its 19-inch high res display that is wall mountable. The frame utilizes a built-in card reader, wireless connectivity and Ceiva's patented connectivity feature.
COBY'S (www.cobyusa.com) DP-5588 Digital Photo Frame with Clock incorporates a digital frame with other features for added versatility. The product features a 5.6-inch TFT LCD color display digital photo frame with built-in MP3 player, integrated stereo speakers and attractive quartz clock. The timely new unit is the latest addition to Coby's extensive collection of digital photo frames in sizes up to 10-inches.
CONDΙ (www.conde.com) recently introduced its CrystalMPrints Transfer System. The system lets you create full color photographic quality crystal products with an inkjet printer. The company offers a selection of crystal shapes, ideal for a range of photo gift uses.
denny novelty (www.photonovelty.com) offers a wide range of photo gift items including purses in multiple sizes and styles. The "Photo Purse Large" lets your customers share their favorite photos with everyone they meet. The image size is 13x8.5-inches. The purse's flap can be attached with either snaps or Velcro.
digital foci (www.digitalfoci.com) added three new models to its line of "Image Moments" digital photo frames, including the Image Moments 15" with a large 15-inch screen. The new digital frame features 200MB of internal memory and built-in memory card slots and USB port. The frame also features the company's unique proprietary adapter ring design that supports limitless custom framing options, as well as an interchangeable mat with three color selections; a hinged memory card door; and an easel leg. The Image Moments 15 also features video and audio inputs for displaying external video.
digital spectrum (www.dsicentral.com) introduced its MF-8104Premium, featuring a 10.4-inch TFT LCD and MF8000, featuring an 8-inch TFT LCD. The frames offers users a built-in multi-format media card reader and USB 2.0 port as well as audio out connector. The frames also come with a remote control. They are Windows Vista ready.
lite-on it, (www.cenomax.com) offers a feature-rich digital photo frame under the consumer brand name cenOmax. The cenOmax F7024B 7-inch digital photo frame includes four interchangeable inserts to match the style and dιcor of any room. Other features include a built-in alarm clock and calendar option, playback of photos, video and audio.
www.mediastreet.com) introduced the emotion Bluetooth Digital Picture Frame. The 7-inch frame features 256MB of built-in memory, media card slots and USB connectivity. The frame offers photo, video, audio, and eBook support. The unit also features a 2-in-1 frame design. Underneath the wood frame is an acrylic frame.
mustek (www.mustek.com) added the new PF-A950PS, a 9.5-inch digital photo frame that employs NXT flat-panel speaker technology-the speakers are concealed within the unit's screen. The frame allows consumers to display photos, video, and listen to audio. It is compatible with most media cards, and offers USB 2.0 connectivity. Mustek expects to ship in May.
hi-ti, (www.hi-ti.com) known for its line of dye-sub printers, has expanded its product range with the introduction of a digital photo frame, the K65, available in three colors: white/pearl, burgundy, and silver/grey. The high-definition 4x6 digital photo frame features a USB port for connectivity to the company's printers as well as multiple media card support.
hollywood fotogifts (www.hollywoodfotogifts.com) offers a unique photo gift item that will appeal to consumers looking for an anniversary or wedding gift. The porcelain photo plate with gold trim displays an image, and is ideally displayed on a wall or counter.
memory maker bracelet (www.memorymakerbracelet.com) offers a wide variety of photo jewelry, including photo cell phone charms. The cellphone charms come in a range of styles to let your customers personalize their mobile phones with two photos.
neil enterprises (www.neilenterprises.com) offers a novel way for your customers to store their cellphones or PDAs. The Photo Cell Phone Holder offers handy storage and displays a 2x2 7/8-inch photo. A slotted back allows for the charging cord to pass through so the phone can be charged while in the holder. The company offers a 12 piece counter display with black, zebra and leopard designs; black or white models are also available individually boxed.
pandigital (www.pandigital.net) offers a range of digital picture frames that offer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. The frames feature programmable on/off times, and calendar and clock functions which mean that your customers can program photos, video or music to play at certain times. Six-in-one media card slot and USB connectivity mean images can be downloaded from media cards, cameras or computers. Frames range from 1.8- to 15-inches.
portrait weavers (www.portraitweavers.com) lets your customers turn any photo-color or monochrome-into a woven heirloom. Items the company offers include blankets, tapestries, pillows, totes and purses. The products are woven of 100% cotton.
smartparts (www.smartpartsproducts.com) SP8PRT digital picture frame incorporates both a digital picture frame and a 4x6 printer in one unit. The SP8PRT offers multiple media card support as well as USB connectivity. A remote control lets users easily view photos, slideshows and video.
Eastman kodak (www.kodak.com) just expanded its line of digital picture frames with new models in 7-, 8-, and 10-inch sizes. To customize the frame to match home dιcor, two decorative mattes are included. Optional Faceplates are available in various colors. The frames feature a Quick Touch Border, allowing for operation by the touch of a finger. Images can be transferred from computer using Kodak's EasyShare Digital Display software, media cards or USB drive. The Kodak EasyShare M820 and M1020 Frames display crisp images and video on 8-inch and 10-inch screens, respectively can also play MP3 music files through built-in speakers.
sony (www.sony.com) unveiled the S-Frame brand of digital photo frames at PMA. The three frames all offer 15:9 aspect ratio and can display images up to 48MP in size. The frames vary in storage size from 256MB of internal memory in the 7-inch DPF-D70 to 512MB of memory in the 7-inch DPF-V700 and 9-inch DPF-V900. The frames also feature connectivity via USB, multiple media card formats and an optional Bluetooth adapter (for the DPF-V900 and DPF-V700).
viewsonic corp. (www.viewsonic.com) known for its monitors, added a line of digital picture frames this year. Three models were initially introduced. The widescreen 7-inch DP701W4WH offers image upload by USB connectivity, built-in media card slots; and has 128MB of internal memory. The widescreen 8-inch DF88W-523 and traditional 8-inch DF87G533 provide a larger display.
westinghouse digital (www.westinghousedigital.com) added new models to its lineup, including the 15.6-inch DPF-1561 that can play video and audio as well as display photos in 16:9 aspect ratio. The frame offers built-in speakers and higher resolution. The frame comes with the company's proprietary MosaicView technology that lets users display multiple images simultaneously.
karen foster design (www.karenfosterdesign.com) released 14 new themed scrapbook groups, including Ancestry. Each theme includes coordinating papers, stickers and embellishments. In addition the company introduced new scrapbook kits in many of these themes. The kits each include eight sheets of paper and two sticker sheets.