Magazine Article


The State of the Imaging Industry

The on-going innovation keeps consumers coming into stores and visiting websites, looking for the latest and greatest. Retailers and manufacturers agree, though, despite the growth in digital camera sales, consumer awareness of printing options is sadly lagging. PMA's Marketing Research, however, indicates there's reason to be optimistic.

The importance of making prints of digital images varies by both the gender of the primary digital camera user and by the presence of children in a household. Sixty-one percent of women who are the primary digital camera users in their households indicated making prints of their images is "important" through "extremely important," versus 58 percent of men. Among households with children 5 years or younger, 69 percent indicated making prints is "important" through "extremely important." This figure drops as the age of children increases. This data suggests, as digital camera users become more familiar with the options for making prints, women and households with young children will be the most important digital printing customers. Photo retailers and processors will find their key target customer will be a new breed of "digi-Moms" who are looking for ways to use their new gadgets to preserve their families' memories. And, let's not forget: Every roll of film can be digital, too, with scanning. The growing trend of rising One-Time-Use camera sales means film will still be with us for years to come.

PMA and other industry groups will be working together this holiday season to remind consumers that pictures aren't a memory until they are printed. The successful PMA Digital Admaker program will be updated with new and compelling content to reach this growing segment.

There is still much to be done to educate the consumer on their many options. Working together, the industry can benefit from the impressive potential offered by both film and digital technology. The consumer wants pictures. Let's make sure they know that the same people that gave them 4x6 prints from film cameras, can provide them with high quality prints from their new digital cameras.


An Image Capture Explosion
by Joe Diliberto, President, Photographic Manufacturers & Distributors Association (PMDA)

With consumers capturing more images today than ever before, this is surely an exciting-albeit challenging-time in the imaging industry. Industry research suggests that we can expect consumers to snap approximately 1.5 billion incremental pictures (including film and digital capture) before the end of this year, primarily due to the advent of digital technology and the resulting increase of consumer interest in photography overall.

While the struggling economy has hurt our industry and related industries, the bigger issue is ensuring that we are fully prepared to leverage the already unfolding digital revolution, as the shift from analog to digital capture promises a much more long-term impact on our businesses. If managed properly, this transitional phase in the imaging industry could prove to become a skilled marketer's dream: already, the digital revolution is yielding new-to-the-world innovations like digital One-Time-Use cameras, cellular camera phones and wireless transmission of images. It is up to each of us as pioneers in this exciting time to ensure that consumers know these devices offer comprehensible ways for them to turn new technology into special memories that can be enjoyed and shared in various ways.

That being said, there are three very important key messages that our consumers should hear repeatedly during this upcoming holiday season:
Get prints from your digital camera…easily.
Get prints from your digital camera…easily.
Get prints from your digital camera…easily!!

Said another way, consumers should walk away with the output-oriented mindset of, "I can print an image on anything now with my digital or film camera!" This positioning must resonate clearly as we work to address the ever-changing needs of today's photography consumer. Leading edge photo specialty retailers are best positioned to show consumers how and where they can get their digital camera pictures, affording great growth potential.

When the transitional phase is complete, the most successful key players in the photo industry will have tangibly demonstrated an understanding for the importance of capitalizing on our industry's current image explosion. They also will be biased toward action by deploying business strategies that make it as easy as possible for consumers to do more with their pictures than they ever imagined, regardless of how the images are captured.


Growth in Printing Digital at Retail
by Brent Boyer, President, Independent Photo Imagers (IPI)

During the current metamorphosis of the photo industry, I'm seeing sales and operating profits of our members' businesses vary dramatically. Some members are experiencing double digit sales increases with commensurate profits, while others are experiencing exactly the opposite. With members throughout the U.S., regionalism does not seem to be as much of a factor as does the capability to print from camera cards and other digital media. Those that can print from those sources are experiencing lots of growth as print-at-retail seems to be capturing the print-at-home consumers. With our Certified Digital Photo Processing program coming up to full-speed, I foresee even more growth for these services.

Generally, the first quarter of 2003 was the worst in memory, but that is old news now. The second quarter exhibited marked improvement and most members of IPI were quite satisfied with sales and operating profits for that time period. Members with digital printing capability are definitely leading the pack. That service, coupled with one or two of the following: on location/event photography and portrait studios; retail hard goods and digital cameras; or commercial/professional printing seem to make for a very strong and profitable business model. Online photofinishing is also strong for many members, and IPI is currently exploring any and all alternatives available to enhance that service for the members.