Consumer Habits

Consumer Habits

By Ron Leach

One of the best ways to gauge near-term trends in the photo industry is to take a look at what types of cameras are being purchased and what methods photographers use to output their images. We just received an interesting report from the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) that provides some up-to-date insight on both of these parameters.

When it comes to camera sales, the overall demand for still cameras was up 12.5% in March of this year as compared to March 2006, and up 16% year-to-date. Obviously, digital cameras dominated the mix with sales up 15.9 percent in March and up 19% year-to-date. By comparison, 35mm camera sales plunged almost 53% in March and 48% year-to-date.

While the accelerating drop in the sales of analog cameras isn't a surprise, there are some interesting trends developing in the digital arena. One is that more than 80% of the cameras sold in March were models with 6-megapixel resolution or greater. Another notable trend is that the entry resolution level for new camera buyers has shifted from 6-6.9 megapixels to 7-7.9 megapixels. Sales of cameras with 7+ megapixels were up a whopping 235% on a year-to-date basis and cameras with 6-6.9 megapixels were up 162%. By comparison, sales of cameras with 4-4.9 megapixels dropped 90% while those with 5-5.9 megapixels were down by 53%.

In the printing arena, the total volume of prints made from digital still camera increased by 40% for the 12 months ending March 2007. During this period, online print ordering grew by 118 percent while the volume of prints made at home grew by 13 percent. Home printing accounted for almost 39% of the total printing volume, while the retail channel represented 47.6% of the prints made (other sources include instant prints on kiosks, orders sent to minilabs, online ordering and printing at the workplace).