The photo-printing industry has seen the promise of digital output growth go unrealized, as consumers settle for viewing their snapshots on smartphones, tablets and computers monitors. Many early entrants into the digital photo-printing space overestimated the demand for physical output, and have had to adapt by expanding into photo gifts and merchandise.
In the last couple of years the traditional digital and film print market has seen a yearly double-digit decline, according to Futuresource Consulting. In 2015, the consumer photo print market in Western Europe fell, in value terms, by 4.7%, but is now showing signs of stability.
In 2015, the merchandise and photobook market demonstrated 12.5% growth, says Futuresource research. The company said this is growth is due to increasing consumer demand and favorable market conditions, driven by increased portable device adoption, photo sharing, social media and the consumers’ desire to create more from their digital memories.
Photo-printing apps and the app market in general is seeing substantial growth, according to “The Impact of Apps on Photo Printing” consumer-research report from Futuresource Consulting. The number of photo app downloads corresponds with the increasing number of mobile device owners. Futuresource Consulting predicts in 2016, 83% of the Western European population will have a smartphone with access to the Internet, increasing to 89% by 2020.
“The number of images captured and stored on mobile devices is growing exponentially and better camera resolution is providing consumers with more images worth printing,” comments Polina Vorms, research analyst, Futuresource Consulting. “There is a whole generation of consumers who are finding physical prints unexplored fun. If only 1% of these unprinted digital memories were converted into a physical print, then the photo prints market could double in size in one year.”
Conventional wisdom held millennials would not be interested in printing, but actually, in terms of photo product purchases, millennials remain the most common buyer of photo products and are more willing to make a purchase in the future. The latest edition of the Futuresource photo-sharing report indicates photo prints are by far the most popular product, with consumers showing more interest in purchasing them in the future. For example, 50 percent of U.K. respondents are interested in photo prints compared to 29 percent interested in photobooks.
The methods people use to share images is also changing, and benefits the printing market. E-mail is dropping rapidly as a sharing platform, in favor of social networks like Facebook and WhatsApp and cloud services like Dropbox, says the research firm. This offers more output opportunity for the photo industry, as an image residing a network with an open API is more likely to be printed than one sitting in an email box.
Here at Mediaclip, we are more bullish on the photo merchandise market; our own customers have shown a strong merchandising program on a robust visual platform. Intuitive creative tools connected to a variety of cloud services, increases the opportunity for retailers and service providers.