Room to Grow in the U.S. Photo Merchandise Market

David Haueter
Oct 29, 2014

Photo merchandise items like photo books, photo cards, and calendars remain very popular gift items in the U.S. market, but according to recent InfoTrends consumer surveys, the market is showing signs of slowing down. In InfoTrends’ 2014 U.S. Photo Merchandise End-User Survey, about 40% of respondents had bought photo merchandise products in the last year. This was virtually unchanged from the 2013 survey after showing growth the previous two years. InfoTrends believes that while a slowdown is inevitable as the photo merchandise market matures, there is still room for continued growth with targeted marketing efforts and promotions.

In InfoTrends’ recent 2014 U.S. Photo Printing Study, which was just fielded in September, respondents who hadn’t bought any photo merchandise items in the last year were asked why, and the top five responses reveal that there may be some opportunity to convert these non-buyers. The majority (53%) simply had no interest in photo merchandise items, and that group may be the most difficult to reach. However, 37% said that products are “too expensive,” and these respondents may respond to promotions and marketing efforts. Some of these people may not be aware of how affordable photo merchandise products are, while others may not be aware of how nice the products are and how much value they are for the money.

Another issue that is becoming more serious and may become more widespread over the next few years is photo organization. Consumers today are taking more photos than ever before and have their photos in many different places, which makes it more difficult to go through them and decide what pictures to use for potential photo products. Over 8% of respondents said they hadn’t made photo merchandise products because they “it would take too long to pick out the ones I want to use in a photo book.” There are new products and services coming out that will help to address the photo organization issue, but getting consumers to use some of these new offerings may be a challenge in itself, as they’ll require a certain amount of trust on the part of the user and users will, of course, have to be made aware of these products through marketing and promotion.

Education also remains an issue with creating photo merchandise, as 7% of respondents said they hadn’t bought them because they “didn’t know how/it’s too difficult.” Many of these respondents may not be aware of how easy it is to create photo products today with the latest creative software that’s on vendor websites or retail store kiosks. This group can be reached with marketing efforts that stress the user friendliness of online and kiosk creation tools, or perhaps through in-person training classes within retail stores. “No suitable photos” also made it into the top five responses for non-buyers. While some may think their photos need to be eye-popping to be worthy of the time and cost involved with making a photo product, this situation may also correct itself as mobile phones (which are becoming the everyday camera for more and more consumers) become more advanced cameras.

InfoTrends believes that while the photo merchandise market is starting to become more mature, there is still great opportunity for growth, not only through more marketing and education, but also through new products like lay-flat photo books or rich media products that incorporate links to electronic media within the printed output for a hybrid printed and electronic viewing experience.


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