Technical Innovation Drives Global Digital Camera Market: GfK Retail and Technology

Technical Innovation Drives Global Digital Camera Market: GfK Retail and Technology


Nuremberg, Germany—Technical innovations are the primary reasons why consumers are attracted to the latest digital cameras—even if they own an older model, according to new research released by GfK Retail and Technology. The company also noted that “there is a particular demand for compact system cameras around the world,” and that smartphones with camera and video functions are beginning to influence the photo-imaging industry.

Global evidence of the growing demand for photo and video recording devices includes a boom in the first nine months of 2011, particularly in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, “where 35% was invested more in photo products as compared to last year.” In Latin America, GfK said sales grew by 16% and in India by 7%. An exception to the findings was Japan, which experienced a decline of 17% in the imaging market, which was attributed to the natural and nuclear disasters of March, which had a significant impact on the economy, and the high number of photo products already owned by Japanese consumers.

GfK, which tracks sales data in consumer goods and entertainment markets worldwide, also noted that compact system cameras with interchangeable lenses are driving the global market but have not yet cannibalized the demand for conventional DSLRs. “The growth of these products has stimulated an increase in the DSC changeable-lens segment (+17%); growth rates can be seen across all regions in the first nine months of the year,” stated GfK. Also of importance to retailers, this new camera category continues to boost the accessories segment, especially lenses, bags and tripods.

The main thrust of the study is that technical innovation is critical for growth and even if consumers already own an imaging device, new features and functions encourage new purchases. Customers in Japan and India, for example, are particularly enthusiastic about new technologies. GfK analysis revealed that those two countries have the highest shares for products being launched in 2011. And half of the products sold in Japan this year were new to the market, while in Brazil and South Africa it was around 30%.

As for the smartphone category, GfK had this to say: “First, they may open up new user groups but could also hinder the development of digital cameras. Smartphones have a large number of comparable features, such as megapixels and autofocus, but the ability to access the Internet is one of the advantages they have over digital cameras.” Findings reveal that in China, smartphones may cut demand for low-end cameras but are increasing demand for high-end models as consumers become more enthusiastic about photography; this is why the share of compact system cameras is higher in China and in Asia Pacific than in Europe. In Europe, however, GfK found no evidence of the cannibalization of fixed lens cameras, which increased by 4% in the first nine months of 2011.

In terms of popular smartphone features that make them more appealing than a low to mid-end point-and-shoot digital camera, megapixels do not seem that relevant, rather consumers are drawn to connectivity and touch-screen options. “Global figures show that in the first nine months of 2011,” stated the company, “only 10% of digital cameras were equipped with Wi-Fi, however for mobile handsets, the share was 24% and for smartphones it was even better (87%). For uploading photos to social networking sites, direct Internet access is a major advantage.” The situation is similar with touch-screen technology; while one in three mobile handsets have it, only one in 10 digital cameras is equipped with this function. GPS is also a common feature in smartphones that is still minimally found in digital cameras.

“[T]here is no doubt that future trends and developments of the smartphone market will have a significant impact on the digital camera market, whether it be for demand, features and price class structure,” concluded the report.