Come this holiday season, photographers will have hundreds of out-of-the-box, personalized, high-margin product options from which to boost their holiday sales and make the hectic holiday season easier for their customers.
To help you sort through all these options, Studio Photography asked a cross-section of photo gift manufacturers to give us their take on what product features and categories are likely to generate maximum additional revenue when clients place their holiday photo orders this year. Here are their picks.
New and Novel Add-ons
Personalization, customization, and other distinctive ways to showcase portraits of friends, family, and business associates, are a great way to kick up your order size, according to many of our product panelists.
"The demand for unique photo products has greatly increased in the past few years," says Hamp Johnston, president of Denny Novelty (www.photonovelty.com), in Mobile, Alabama. "Consumers want to display their portraits and sports photos in novel products like sculptures, purses, and decorative tiles. We also see a trend to products that allow consumers to ‘show off' their family and pets without pulling out an album or box of prints. Tote bags, purses, key chains, coasters, and blankets are just a few products that allow them to do that. For the holidays, we also see a trend toward larger, tasteful products, such as framed tile mosaics. Specialty products hold value beyond the profit they generate. Distinctive portrait products have a way of invoking the question, 'Where did you get that?' The answer is the photographer's name."
George Clark, president of Portrait Weavers (www.portraitweavers.com), a division of Fine Art Tapestries, in Lynn, North Carolina, agrees that customers are looking for non-traditional sources of revenue. "The main driver of photographers is their art, the intellectual property from which all revenues flow. That said, if a photographer can sell a woven blanket, or a tote bag with a picture of the bride to encase the wedding photo album, the revenues from a single photograph increase. Another trend we're seeing is movement to higher value products. Our jumbo wall tapestries, which wholesale for over $200, are coming on strong. And we sell a tremendous amount of woven blankets because of their value for the size, as well as the fact they add a tactile benefit."
M.J. Mitchell, founder of Braggables (www.braggables.com), in Brick, New Jersey, created her company and high-quality personalized products drawing on years of high-end fashion marketing experience and the belief that everyone has something or someone to brag about-family, pets, friends, vacations. Says Mitchell, "While photo bags have traditionally been ‘grandmotherly,' our quality photo-insert bag offers women a sophisticated, affordable, flexible alternative to the photo silk-screened bags out there. Our best sellers for the holiday season will be a three-window suede in crimson, honey, and chocolate, and a new honey pebble-grained saddle bag with ‘porthole' round photo pockets."
Every item in the collection-day and evening handbags, totes, diaper bags, as well as key rings and cell/camera/PDA cases-comes with a silvery heart zipper, a reminder that 10 percent of net profits go to pediatric cardiology research.
Brandon Rapport, VP of sales and marketing for Memory Maker Photo Jewelry (www.memorymaker
bracelet.com), in Canoga Park, California, adds, "With digital photography so prevalent, personalized photo gifts and accessories give customers more reasons to output their pictures in fun and interesting ways. Photographers are expanding the number of products they offer and including styles for the Tween market, such as our cell phone charms and Photo Bandz bracelets. For the holiday season, we are excited about customer response to our new Gallery Collection photo necklace, featuring birthstone photo charms that slide onto either a snake chain or leather cord necklace. Birthstones add a new level of personalization to photo accessories."
Richard Nadel, senior account manager of TreasureKnit Photo Blankets (www.treasureknit.com), in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, manufacturers of knit blankets, adds, "The overall growth of the photo gift market is spiking and shows no signs of plateauing for the remainder of 2007. People respond so positively to our blankets because they are personal keepsakes-modern-day equivalents of quilts. These blankets become cherished family treasures that can be passed on from generation to generation. Customers will spend as they see appropriate to treasure their favorite moments."
Technological breakthroughs have opened the door for product innovation-and incremental revenue. Among the trends identified by our panel is the ability to generate onsite gifts and products at corporate holiday parties, children's holiday concerts and celebrations, Santa sessions, and other year-end events.
Says Kristi Fox, assistant product manager, Consumer Imaging, of Epson America (www.ea.epson.com), in Long Beach, California, "With customers demanding immediate results, more and more photographers have begun to use Epson's new PictureMate Dash and Zoom personal photo labs to create high-quality, durable 4x6 images for their customers. This holiday season, with new photo folio products and self-adhesive mountings from various album manufacturers, PictureMate will provide another revenue opportunity for photographers by fulfilling the growing demand for instant treasure keepsakes."
According to Cindy Brooke, managing director of Brooke International (www.brookecutters.com), in Hansville, Washington, "Technological advances also have greatly increased the variety and improved the quality of photo products in the growing photo gift segment. Customers are combining their creativity with new photo editing software and hardware to personalize items. Publishing storybooks with photos is a rocket-fast growing market. And with our Hope jigsaw puzzle machine, photographers can make puzzles with more pieces (300–350) on larger sheets (up to 12x18 inches) at holiday events-as well as sports, corporate, social, and other special events throughout the year."
Neil Fine, president of Neil Enterprises (www.neilenterprises.com), in Vernon Hills, Illinois, adds, "With technology and buying trends changing so quickly, our products let photographers who are willing to think ‘outside the box' easily add to their existing businesses with high-volume, high-margin products. Holiday gift options, such as frames, ornaments, and themed photo mounts, offer photographers extra products to add to their holiday packages. Our photo CD holders-in red for the holidays-are wildly popular with the photographers because they can present CDs in these simulated archival-quality pieces. For photographers who have branched out to corporate events and sports photography, we have unique products and can add corporate logos to all our products, and have complete onsite printing capabilities."