Print Behavior Continues to Change; Digicams Sales Holding Steady

Print Behavior Continues to Change; Digicams Sales Holding Steady

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PMA recently released some new figures on the U.S. photo printing market and the changes from just a couple of years ago are dramatic.

Print volume along with overall digital camera sales (opposite page) were reportedly both up through the first half of 2007 from the 2006 numbers.

The volume of digital prints made was up 34 percent for the year thus far. Up most significantly was online ordering, which grew an amazing 80 percent over the prior year. Prints at kiosks climbed 42 percent; prints made at retail minilabs grew 34 percent; and prints made at home experienced only 15 percent growth.

Retail printing continued its rapid climb, one it has enjoyed now for the last two years, accounting for 47.8 percent of all photo prints made to this point in 2007. Home printing, while still very much on the map, is down to 38.7 percent of photo printing activity. We can all recall when home printing acounted for around 60% of the total photo printing activity in the U.S., only a few years ago. The high cost of ink along with greater awareness of retail options (and the cheaper price per print) have all contributed to this category’s declining numbers.

Online orders mailed back to consumers’ homes, at around 3-6% for much of the last three years, has jumped to 12.1 percent of total print activity in the U.S. Again, awareness of the services available, along with increasing availability of broadband connections have helped this option out tremendously.

Breaking down just the retail segment – 14 percent of digital prints were made on a kiosk, 23 percent were input into a kiosk and sent to a minilab or were made directly on a minilab, 10 percent were uploaded online and later picked up in store.

Many retail imaging locations that have revamped or redesigned their stores with a more “print-friendly” environment have reprted big gains in in overall print revenue but the cost per print battles have stalled profits a bit. The photo-gifting market is helping restore some of those profits as most of these items (photo books, blankets, collages, etc.) contain greater margin for dealers.

Digicam Sales Solid

Despite all the “experts” claiming digital camera sales would be down in 2007, PMA’s numbers tell us unit sales actually grew 4.6 percent through June 2007. In a separate report, NPD recently added that actual dollar sales fell 5 percent, as digicam pricing continues its freefall. It’s not uncommon today to see 5-6 megapixels for around $200 (or less), so that number is not surprising.

Most of (over 90 percent) the digital camera sales activity is taking place in the 6-8 megapixel area. Obviously, with the DSLR category remaining hot, this trend will undoubtedly continue through the rest of 2007 and on into 2008.

The projection for 2007 was for digicams to hit close to 23 million units sold in the U.S. and film cameras to drop to close to 2 million. As you can see from the chart above, 2003 was the first year that digital camera sales surpassed 35mm camera sales and the decline has been dramatic ever since. Incredible to think that in 2002 film cameras outsold digicams 14.2 to 9 million…over 5 million more film cameras were sold and just 5 short years later it has flip-flopped to the point that digicams will now outsell film cameras by some 22 million.

PMA’s data also stated that in the past 12 months (ending in May 07), 80% of all new cameras sold were digital cameras.

Furthering the strong data on the dramatic decline in 35mm cameras sales, PMA claims that digital camera sales got off to a fast start in Q1 2007 showing 31.7 percent growth, while sales of 35mm cameras during the same period plummeted 36.0 percent.

The news was similar for 35mm SLR cameras for the same period as this category saw a 46 percent drop in sales. PMA claims the average price for the overall film camera category has “retreated as the magnitude of declines in unit volumes came in below those of dollar volumes (-31 percent vs. -35 percent respectively).”

From recent NPD data comes this report, regarding the ranking by brand of retail sales of digital cameras (including DSLRs) for the period November 2006 through April 2007.

1. Canon

2. Sony

3. Nikon

4. Kodak

5. Olympus

6. Fuji

7. Panasonic

8. HP

9. Casio

10. Polaroid

**The top 10 accounted for 95.5% of the sales.

Furthering the point of film’s decline is the numbers attached to “images captured” over the years with digital cameras versus film cameras. In 2004 there were 13.9 billion images captured with film cameras compared to 12.9 billion with digital. By the end of this year those numbers are projected to be – Film 6.8 billion vs Digital 26.2 billion.

It’s interesting to look back just 8-10 years ago when many in the imaging industry were predicting that digital cameras would not become a mainstream product and begin to replace film cameras for 15-20 years. In fact, it took only 5 or 6 years for digital camera sales to surpass film camera sales and less time than that for the technology to begin taking its toll on 35mm film processing dollar volumes in the U.S. Looking out to beyond 2010, not only will digicams have made their mark on mainstream photography, they may very well have completely replaced 35mm cameras.

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