It’s safe to say that electronic viewing and sharing of photos is here to stay as the use of smartphones and tablets become a more prevalent part of our photography habits. What’s more of a wild card is how electronic “e-books” and “e-cards” will ultimately impact the print side of the market. Recent research by InfoTrends suggests that there is room for both, and that the print side of the market may even get a boost from the electronic world.
It’s only logical that photo books would displace traditional photo albums for many people. After all, a photo book is nothing more than a book with photos printed on the pages, rather than a photo album with prints slid into plastic sleeves. Photo books, of course, also allow for personalization through the adding of text, as well as choices of backgrounds, borders and various binding options.
In the 2013 U.S. Photo Printing Survey, survey respondents that had purchased photo books were asked if they thought photo books would eventually replace traditional photo albums in their households. Interestingly, over 33% said that photo books had already started replacing photo albums and another 30% said that they plan to start printing photo books instead of putting prints in traditional albums. Only 19% said “no.” Those with higher incomes were more likely to already have photo books replace albums in the home, as were those who said they are “early adopters” of technology.
To be successful, most photo merchandise vendors must rely on sales to the average snapshot photographer who makes up a large percentage of the addressable market for products like photo cards, books and calendars. However, it’s also important for even for the largest vendors not to lose sight of the market for the hobbyist photographers, the type of photographers who more often rely on their camera instead of their camera-phone and who know how aperture, shutter speed and ISO influence photos.
InfoTrends survey research over the years has consistently shown that those who identify themselves as “Hobbyist” or “Advanced Hobbyist” photographers produce significantly more printed products than those that identify themselves as “Snapshot” or Family Memory-Keeper” photographers. Hobbyist photographers likely tend to be more creative types that experiment with their photography and enjoy seeing their best work displayed on their walls or in a photo book. These photographers are also more likely to understand the vulnerability of relying solely on electronic storage methods for their photos and want to have their best pictures in printed form.
The chart below was taken from our 2013 U.S. Photo Merchandise End-User Survey (http://store.infotrendsresearch.com/product_p/134526.htm) gives a good example of how much more popular photo merchandise products (including photo books, cards, calendars and specialty photo print products like canvas, photo panels and posters) are with hobbyist photographers. While only 32% of snapshot photographers and 45% of family memory-keeper photographers in the entire survey population had ordered any kind of photo merchandise product in the last year, those percentages rose to 57% for hobbyist photographers and 71% for advanced hobbyist photographers. Hobbyist/advanced hobbyist photographers also make significantly more traditional photo prints than the snapshot or family memory-keeper photographers, from both digital cameras and mobile devices.
There’s no question that the output side of the photo market has been impacted in some negative ways by the electronic world, as more people are using websites, social networking and the cloud to share, manage and archive their photos rather than print them. However, that electronic side of the world also presents some real opportunities for vendors that are proactive about taking advantage of the benefits that merging the electronic and printed worlds has to offer.
InfoTrends believes that the future success of the photo output market relies in large part on how the physical, output side of the market melds with the electronic virtual world. Our research has shown that a significant percentage of consumers are interested in producing output from photos that are shared and viewed electronically, be it on a social networking site like Facebook, a photo gallery site like Flickr or through an online photo services provider. In the recently published 2013 U.S. Photo Merchandise End-User Study, InfoTrends found that 83% of photo merchandise buyers had interest in creating photo merchandise products that allowed people to work together online in product design and/or creation.
Lulu.com has established a reputation as a site for people that want to publish their own books (including photo books) but is now striking into new territory with their Picture.com site (www.picture.com), which harnesses the power of electronic sharing and collaboration to create unique photo books and calendars. The Picture.com site has collaborative features that allow people to add their own photos to a single gallery, which can then be used to create photo books or calendars, and photos can not only be uploaded from the computer but also pulled from Facebook or Lulu.com accounts.
The adoption of photo merchandise products into the mass market may not be happening as quickly or on as broad a scale as many in the photo market had hoped, but InfoTrends is seeing in our research that these products are getting more penetration into the U.S. market. In the consumer survey portion of ourU.S. Photo Merchandise End-User Survey, InfoTrends found that over 37% of respondents said they had purchased photo merchandise items in the last year, with the survey specifically asking about photo books, photo cards, photo calendars and specialty photo prints (which includes canvas, photo panels, collage prints and posters/enlargements over 11” x 14”). This was up from just over 32% in our 2011 survey, so there was a notable increase in the buyer population.
It’s great to see that more people are buying photo merchandise, but there is still a lot of opportunity to bring new buyers into the market. In that same study mentioned above, we asked the entire survey population of over 1,500 people if they plan to buy photo merchandise products in the next 12 months. Photo cards were the most likely product to be purchased, followed by specialty photo prints. There are still a sizable percentage of respondents that don’t plan to buy anything, but an average of around 24% said “maybe,” and it’s this group that needs to be reached. InfoTrends research has consistently shown that once someone buys photo merchandise, there’s a very good likelihood that they will buy again, so getting them to make that first purchase is key.
The Indian graphic arts market as a whole is fascinating and fast growing. However, there is one area of particular interest for digital printing: the wedding industry. According to recent research, there are around 12,000 weddings held every day in India and around 1.5 million photos are taken on each of these wedding days. All of these marriages have the potential to drive the production of multiple wedding albums and related photo merchandise.
Giving greeting cards is very much part of the British culture. A recent study by Ofcom found that UK consumers send more greeting cards than any other surveyed country; France, Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, Australia, Spain, and China.
Greeting cards remain an important part of the UK social culture, and UK consumers are sending more than ever before. One of the key factors driving this growth is the increased demand seen in online print and the growing popularity for personalised photo cards.
There is an ongoing debate about the value of a photograph. It’s been stated as recently as the 6Sight Imaging Conference in San Jose, CA, June 21-22, that the value of a photo is at its highest point right after it is taken and then its value declines rapidly. So, print vendors and retailers need to get consumers to print their photos as soon as possible. However, we’ve said that at some point in time the trend can reverse itself and a photo can increase in value as the image becomes a historic memory. In most cases, it will not exceed its initial value, but there are exceptions. Read more »