The mass market has given way to personalized niche markets. Consumers expect their online shopping experience to be customized from beginning to end. The photography market has to lead the way in this regard, as every printed photo is a unique personalized document. Even in the days of film, each printed photo was unique.
Digital photo printing technology has expanded beyond memories and has opened up new opportunities in distinct vertical markets. New dye-sublimation printers, for example, can print on objects up to 11 inches in height, opening new avenues for dimensional printing on balls, on wood, on metal, and on other items. These new markets are freeing up marketers and brands to look beyond simple merchandising and using personalized products to build brand loyalty and profits.
Here are some of the now-available niche markets for personalized products:
Pets – There are few things more important to a family than their pets. Whether it is a cat fancier or a dog person, today’s pet owners dote on their fur babies. The growth of personalized products has opened up a tremendous opportunity for pet retailers; every major photo personalization company already features a pet-products section, because it is such a dynamic market. Personalization opportunities for pets are endless; not only can pet owners display their pet’s portrait on their walls, their clothing, on calendars, on mugs, on dishes, and so on, they can customize food and drink bowls, pet clothing, ID tags and more. It really is up to the imagination of the user.
Nearly 70% of U.S. households own a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), with 2020 pet industry expenditures projected to be $99 billion. Most of that spending will be on food, medicine, and veterinary care, but the APPA still estimates “Other Services” including toys, clothing, etc., will be more than $10 billion in 2020. More than one-third of Millennials are pet owners, an increase from their baby-boomer forebears, according to Forbes.
Home Décor – The widespread trend of personalized products is undeniably sweeping over the Home Décor market too. Millennials, a key consumer group for retailers across the board, are the igniting force behind the trend, as they start investing in homes and have the propensity to purchase more unique pieces than mass-produced ones. In fact, home décor related segments represent 42% of the $30 billion global personalized merchandise market. These segments, as well as the entire market, are poised to further grow by an average CAGR of 9% until 2023. So, it’s no surprise that growth-hacking retailers are eager to bring product personalization to the forefront of their online sales strategy.
Sports and leisure activities – The market for personalized products for sports gear continues to grow, encompassing everything from photo golf balls to individual fan graphics. Pro sports are filling their empty arenas with life-size photos of their fans. Sports teams are even using this as an opportunity to connect fans – socially distant, of course – to their favorite venues. For example, the San Francisco 49ers football team is offering limited edition fan cut-outs for home games, with the proceeds going to charity.
Memorials and remembrances – Photos are important for remembering the passing of a loved one. Displays of family snapshots at funeral homes have given way to full-on multimedia slideshows, photobooks, and posters. Even tombstones can be personalized with a photo to permanently commemorate a life.
For other types of events like milestone birthdays, retirements, and so on open up new opportunities for drinkware, dishes, and decorations.
Weddings and parties – Most photographic expenditures related to a wedding are conducted during and after the event. Now, with personalized photo products, the opportunity starts with the engagement announcement. Couples are sending out personalized save-the-date cards and invitations, as well as customized decorations. Bridal party gifts, table favors, and place cards make the day-of celebration special. Personalized thank-you notes round out the event.