Catering to Your Customers’ Careers

Catering to Your Customers’ Careers


Photographs are a powerful means for communicating messages and promoting business. They can help individuals understand a product or service, attract new customers, and evoke emotional responses that help generate business. Photo-intensive business documents include a wide variety of products such as booklets, brochures, newsletters, directories, calendars and promotional photo books.

While photo merchandise products like photo books, calendars and greeting cards have provided a boost to the consumer market, the majority of this print volume has been limited to a relatively small number of vendors, print service providers and manufacturers of digital presses. Photo-intensive business applications have attributes that make them even more attractive than consumer photo merchandise products, including:

• A lower degree of seasonality

• A different price elasticity

• Different product requirements

• Incremental growth

• A new base of customers and revenues

As part of a comprehensive study designed to better understand photo-intensive business and commercial applications, InfoTrends conducted a Web-based questionnaire of U.S. businesses that use photos in their promotional and publishing materials. A full report detailing the results of this survey and more was published in December 2009. This article provides a top-level overview of InfoTrends' survey findings and accompanying forecast.

End-User Survey Highlights

In November 2009, InfoTrends conducted an online survey of over 1,000 U.S. businesses of various sizes and from various markets that use photos in their promotional and publishing materials. In the study, InfoTrends defined “photo-intensive” applications as those that would not fulfill their intended purpose without the use of photos, and have photos printed on about 50 perccent or more of their pages. A few highlights from this survey are outlined below:

• On average, survey participants expected over 40 percent of their total 2009 printing expenditures to be devoted to photo-intensive materials.

• Over 90 percent of respondents believed that photo-intensive materials were more effective than non-photo-intensive materials for reaching customers.

• About 85 percent of respondents believed that photo-intensive materials were more effective than non-photo-intensive materials for increasing sales/revenues.

• When asked which factors would encourage them to use more photo-intensive printed materials, survey participants most commonly cited lower prices.

• Over three-quarters of total survey participants used variable text or photos to personalize their photo-intensive materials.

• When respondents were asked which factors would prompt them to choose a retailer instead of a commercial printer for producing photo-intensive printed materials, price was the top consideration.

• When asked why they used photos in their printed materials, survey participants most commonly did so to make their materials more interesting to read or to showcase a particular product or service.

Market Forecast Highlights

As noted earlier, InfoTrends' report also included a forecast for the business-intensive photo publishing market. Top-level findings from the forecast include:

• The total available promotional and publishing market opportunity was estimated to be over 1.9 trillion 8.5″ x 11″ equivalent impressions in 2009.

• Digitally produced photo-intensive applications are currently a very small part of the total market, but are expected to grow quickly through 2014. Driving this growth will be the overall analog-to-digital transition, as well as an increased use of photos and other types of personalization in promotional and publishing applications.

Recommendations for Vendors

Although the effectiveness of photos in promotional and publishing materials is widely documented, some issues remain, particularly in creating and maintaining an effective workflow process. InfoTrends encourages vendors in this market to develop tools that will track and demonstrate the return on investment from using photos. New revenue opportunities will be created for vendors that have traditionally been in the consumer photofinishing space but wish to expand into the business and commercial markets to create additional business throughout the year and increase profitability. The increase in short-run print jobs that are ideally suited to digital presses and printers—as well as the availability of resources such as Web-to-print applications, online templates and stock photography—will help to make the use of photos more attractive to more businesses.

Market vendors must educate potential customers about these resources and work to generate new photo applications that will ultimately benefit both parties.

InfoTrends' “Business Applications for Photo

Publishing” Study

The data provided in this article is part of a much larger Multi-Client study from InfoTrends, titled “Business Applications for Photo Publishing: Digital Printing Opportunities for Photo-Intensive Documents.” The full report:

• segments and profiles the market for photo-intensive business applications, including usage, interest and preferences among various business segments of various sizes;

• provides insight into drivers and barriers; purchasing patterns; customer service requirements; and workflow processes for businesses that are using photo-intensive applications;

• forecasts the U.S. market for photo-centric promotional and publishing applications; and

• highlights results from personal interviews conducted with key industry vendors, providers, and businesses.

For more information please contact Matt O'Keefe at or (781) 616-2100, ext 115.