A lot of the discussion in the photo industry these days is the challenge of getting consumers to make something from the 1.3 trillion images captured each year. Photofinishers and retailers are excited about the prospect of consumers making photo gift and merchandise, yet there is still questions about the growth rate of the market. According to a recent InfoTrends survey of consumers, the market is still growing slowly. In InfoTrends’ 2014 U.S. Photo Merchandise End-User Survey, about 40 percent of respondents had bought photo-merchandise products in the last year, which is essentially unchanged from the 2013 survey, after showing growth the previous two years. InfoTrends analysts believe, while a slowdown is inevitable as the photo merchandise market matures, there is still room for continued growth.
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, writes InfoTrends analyst David Haueter. The top five responses reveal there may be some opportunity to convert these non-buyers: Slightly more than half simply had no interest in photo merchandise items, and that group may be the most difficult to reach.
Two-thirds, however, said 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, according to Haueter.
Another serious issue – which is becoming more widespread – 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. Almost 10 percent of respondents said they hadn’t made photo merchandise products because “it would take too long to pick out the ones I want to use in a photo book,” according to Haueter.
Education also remains an issue with creating photo merchandise, as 7 percent 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 with the latest creative software. This group can be reached with marketing efforts stressing the user friendliness of online and kiosk creation tools, or perhaps through in-person training classes within retail stores, notes Haueter.
“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.
This means, to capture the most of this market we should, as an industry, change the type of products we offer and how they are promoted. We need simplify the tools to manage images and create photo items as well as provide access to professional content so customers can enjoy their experience and feel good about the end result.