If you’ve attended any industry gatherings over the past few years, you hear grumbling. “No one prints anymore,” says one. “Millennials are all about screens,” says another. “We’re doomed” is the consensus.
While it’s true the industry is far removed from the glory days of silver-halide, there are still high-margin photo products to be made. And a recent consumer research study from Futuresource Consulting shows much many consumers still buy photo products.
The survey, carried out with 4,000 people across the U.K., the United States, France and Germany, explored the main methods and devices used to share digital images, the usage of specific websites and smartphone and tablet applications, as well as the types of equipment owned, frequency of image capture and purchase of photo products.
“Over the last 12 months across all four countries, 57 percent of people have bought a personalized photo product, such as photo-prints, photo books, calendars, posters or cards,” says Jamal Mehmood, research analyst, Futuresource Consulting. “Photo-prints are leading the way, with 42 percent of people making a purchase, followed by photo books at 23 percent.”
Across all photo product categories, the 18 to 34 age group is most likely to purchase. (Much the same as they did in analog days, thus continuing the thought process that photo printing is really about a lifestage and memories, not necessarily past history. If it were past history, then Baby Boomers would still be the biggest segment.) When people are purchasing by tablet or smartphone, photo-prints and photo books are the most popular products.
“There are very clear differences in purchase behavior across the countries surveyed, with photo-prints the least popular in the U.K., whilst France is leading the way in photo book purchases by quite a margin,” says Mehmood.
When it comes to sharing photos electronically, consumers have now turned to the smartphone as the primary device to share photos with friends and family, taking over from last year’s number one device, the laptop screen.
“In terms of online photo sharing, e-mail remains a popular platform to share photos and this could be due to the perceived higher level of security/privacy. If this is the case, we can expect this to remain true for the future. When asked which website or app consumers use to share photos, Facebook leads across all countries with Snapchat showing the most significant growth – an increase of 12 percent in the USA.”
The survey showed the smartphone is the device most often used to take photos. Smartphone cameras are constantly improving in terms of lens and resolution, as are the weight and battery life of smartphones themselves, making them far more suitable as substitutes for fixed lens cameras, which contrasts with last year’s findings, in which the ownership of fixed lens cameras was marginally higher.
All this shows, future success in photo printing will continue to be based on life-stage marketing, coupled with the convenience of mobile technologies.