Magazine Article


The State of the Imaging Industry

"But digital cameras don't need accessories." Wrong. They actually need more accessories than film cameras. Start with the usual suspects: bags and cases, tripods, filters. Then add the digital-specific needs: every camera you sell should go with extra memory cards, a card reader, and rechargeable batteries and charger. And finally, sell new accessories designed specifically for digital photography: Internet Photo Studio for product shots for eBay, catalogs, etc.; Halo-Light for macro photography; QP colorkit for correct color balance.

Processing of digital photos is the next big profit growth opportunity. The challenge is to educate consumers who have been sold on the idea of printing on inkjets about the options and benefits of having you print their pictures in your store. The truth is that the majority of people don't want to come home from vacation and sit at their computers reviewing and printing all those shots. They just don't know that you can offer the better option for digital prints. Why? Lower cost, higher quality, and greater convenience. Shout it from your rooftop-your customers can drop off their (digital) film and get back true photo quality digital prints for much less than it will cost them to print on their inkjet. Whether you have a digital minilab or a Fuji PrintPix system, you have the tools and the knowledge to make this a reality.

And when you present your customers with the beautiful prints you've made from their digital images, be sure you sell the frames and albums to show them in.


Keep It Simple For the Customer
by E. Joseph Miller, Vice President, Sales & Marketing of Spectra Merchandising International

The state of the photographic industry has never been more exciting and energized than it is today. At the same time it has never been more challenging. We are experiencing unequaled consumer enthusiasm, change is the norm and we are adjusting to new technologies. The industry is experiencing a revolution, a digital revolution.
Traditional image capture and output platforms are rapidly becoming obsolete. Retailers have to rethink proven profitable business models, adopt new strategies and implement cutting edge output technologies to remain viable. On top of all this consumers are in a state of confusion.

Early digital growth occurred in the CE channel under the computer business model of short product life cycles, faster speed and more features, in an environment where the only print option was print at home. This is contrary to the established photographic business model of long product life cycles, simple to use and understand feature sets and conveniently located affordable print options at most every retailer in the country.

Digital capture has outpaced output. Digital camera manufacturers have created a megapixel frenzy for no practical reason other than making current models obsolete. Do we really need a four, five or six mega-pixel camera when two to three megapixels make outstanding 4x6 prints, excellent 5x7s and good 8x10s? The continual introduction of new camera models only creates customer confusion and retailer remorse. The camera has become more important than the print. The purpose of the camera is to produce the memory.

Home printing is being touted as the new solution. New digital camera users are encouraged to print at home. It's fun, it's easy and it's affordable. Not to mention until recently it was the only option. Once engaged, the new digital camera user did not have the time or desire to print memories at home with the same velocity they did with their traditional silver halide camera. Memory sharing became electronic, via email. It lost the emotional impact of sitting with a group of friends sharing pictures and most importantly sharing memories. The harsh reality is digital camera users take more pictures than ever before but print less.

Today "soccer mom," the traditional image maker and memory keeper is driving the digital category. The early adopter space has been filled. Manufacturing and retail strategies need to be redefined to address the needs of "soccer mom" not the techno man.

The female consumer has been quite satisfied with her 35mm or APS camera. She is comfortable with her current buying habit of dropping off a roll of film at retail and coming back in an hour to pick up her memories. She embraces digital for basic reasons, image preview (did I get a good picture), economics (no need to purchase film), ease of use (not necessarily the case), and the ability to share images ( email fine, prints a big problem).

"She" is the driving force. Provide her with an affordable simple to use, 3-mega-pixel camera. Make it convenient and affordable to get prints at retail like she has always done, support her occasional home printing with new technologies and everyone wins. Then we will see the industry stabilize and return to profitability for both the retailer and manufacturer.

The industry understands the output opportunity. Retailers are rapidly implementing digital print solutions. It is now time to change buying perceptions and stop trying to change buying habits. We need to let her know she can take her digital media to her favorite retailer and get high quality prints like always and use her home printer for spontaneous and creative printing. This will be the best of both worlds and home printing will be maintained as incremental revenue for retailers while retail printing will again become the norm.