Magazine Article


PTN's State of the Industry 2007
PTN takes its annual look at the State of the Imaging Industry, its effects on retailing and where industry pundits see us heading in 2008.

John Loiacono; Adobe
Bill Mccurry; Mccurry Assoc.
Eliot Peck; Canon
Bill Heuer; Casio
Gary Shapiro; CEA
Chris Howard; Durst
John D. Lang; Epson
Bing Liem; Fujifilm
Rich Duncombe; HP
Christopher Chute; IDC
Alan Bullock; Infotrends
James Chung; IPC
Brent Bowyer; IPI
Machiko Ouchi; Jpeai
Mark Leathem; Kingston
Brad Kruchten; Kodak
Jeff Cable; Lexar
David Lee Nikon
Tina Tuccillo; Noritsu
Liz Cutting; NPD
Jim Dicarlo; Olympus
Richard Campbell; Panasonic
Ned Bunnell; Pentax
Ted Fox; Pmai
Matt Knickerbocker; Pmda
Mike Worswick; Pro Group
Stewart Henderson; Samsung
Wes Brewer; Sandisk
Toru Okada; Sony
Korosh Delnawaz; Whitech
Tim Sexton; ZBE

Digicam Adoption Growth Up

David Lee, Sr. VP, Nikon Inc.: "This is a very exciting year for retailers. The digital camera industry has proved to be remarkably resilient in 2007, once again bucking predictions of flattening growth."

One of the biggest reasons for growth in camera sales is due to the overwhelming popularity of digital SLR cameras. Along with the sales of these cameras, there is a great opportunity to upsell consumers with the myriad of accessories available to enhance their picture taking experiences. The NPD Group's Liz Cutting, Sr. Imaging Analyst, notes, "In 2006, 1in7 digital camera buyers purchased an extended warranty, and were less price sensitive than warranty buyers of other products. Lenses, flashes, camera cases, batteries, tripods, and filters are all up double digits in revenue from 2006."

Jim DiCarlo, Executive Director, Sales, Olympus Imaging America concurs, "2008 will be a big year for more approachable digital SLRs. As consumer demand in this category continues to increase, greater opportunities exist for dealers to profit from sales of cameras and accessories in this category,"

"I don't believe our industry has ever had so many opportunities to be successful," adds Eliot Peck, VP and GM, Sales, Canon U.S.A. Inc.'s Consumer Imaging Group.
Toru Okada, Sr. VP, Digital Imaging, Sony Electronics adds, "To remain competitive, it's important for all of us to be open to industry change and to see change as an opportunity to get people more interested in photography and printing.

Mike Worswick, President of the PRO Group explains, "Many DSLR buyers are buying their first SLR camera. The big retail profit opportunity is not the low margin camera but all the accessories available to enhance picture making performance." He also notes that it is not just the sales of the products but in the service the retailer provides that sets the independent specialist apart from the competition. "The smart retailer will email articles to customers and conduct classes explaining the benefits of buying additional items," he adds.

"It would be great to see more handson shooting opportunities offered to potential customers," adds Sony's Okada.

Educating customers about what they can do to become better photographers is a great opportunity. "Many customers have never been exposed to the items that truly help cameras make better pictures. The BIG BOX store is likely to stock the camera, perhaps one accessory lens and one flash model. Simply communicate the benefits of high speed lenses, powerful flash, close up lenses, a really good tripod, UDMA cards and readers, etc." Worswick adds: "When people understand how they can improve their pictures your profits will improve."

New Reasons to Buy

"With robust feature sets and expanded product lines, the digital SLR market is getting unprecedented attention from consumers this year. The latest generation of digital SLR cameras offers remarkable capabilities at very affordable prices, helping accelerate consumer adoption. As digital SLR cameras attract new customers into stores, retailers have the opportunity to differentiate themselves by offering a broad selection of lenses and system accessories and becoming a comprehensive resource for customers," says Nikon's Lee.

The variety of digital camera styles and models affords consumers the ability to choose the one they feel fits their lifestyle best. Leica Camera USA's President Roger Horn explains, "Over the past two years, the photography industry has seen a dramatic increase in the number of digital cameras available in the market place. To most customers, a "digital camera" for the consumer market signified a digital pointandshoot. However today, this market has further evolved to meet consumers' needs while adapting to new technology and photographic techniques. As the product market place has become more populated, the consumer has become more knowledgeable. The "megapixel" race has slowed and photography manufacturers are scrambling to find a new avenue to reach the discerning consumer."

New features that expand the users' photographic abilities are also driving growth.

"When consumers consider purchasing these products, they will expect features unheard of in years past like Live View on the LCD for composing and shooting, bodybased image stabilization systems for image stabilization with all lenses, and more compact sizes for easier portability," explains Olympus' DiCarlo.

"There's no question—advanced digital imaging technology lends to amazing photography. But advanced technology should not equal impossible to use or hard to understand. Thus, developing intuitive technologies that are so "advanced" that even a beginner can use them is truly innovative and will help continue the evolution and growth of the digital imaging space," adds Panasonic's Richard Campbell, Director, Imaging Product and Marketing Group.

"Blur continues to be a major complaint among photographers—meaning image stabilization must be a standard on a digital camera, not a feature. Consumers should feel confident that regardless what camera they choose, they are guaranteed technologies that allow them to maximize their imaging experience," says Campbell.
"As the entrylevel shooter actively searches for a more advanced digital camera, they are going to find that the landscape has changed drastically when it comes to the technologies that are available, notes Stewart Henderson, VP, Marketing, Samsung OptoElectronics America: "The intimidation factor of this new landscape will play an important role in a consumer's decision making processes and it's imperative that photo retailers recognize their importance and how valuable their guidance is to consumers at this time. For continued growth, it's essential that photo retailers demonstrate their expertise, guide their customers, and help them embrace the myriad new technologies that have been introduced since their last digital camera purchase.