Study reveals shift in print demand



Researchers have discovered differing new trends in the take-up of digital photography and printing across Europe.


According to the recently-released survey of 1,743 internet users in Western Europe, almost three-quarters of respondents indicated owning a digital camera. Most respondents reported printing some photos, although only a small portion said that they printed more than 20 photos per month.


Pollsters found home printing was used most often by more than half of respondents. Retail services were the second most popular printing location.


As household penetration of digital cameras in Western Europe grows beyond 50 percent, consumer requirements are changing. The report, conducted in January and entitled the 2006 Western European Digital Photography Survey: Digital Camera and Photo Printing Analysis, was published by InfoTrends. It examines changes in digital camera user demographics, emerging sub-segments and how to target them, as well as the long-term storage of images.


In addition, the report authors look at what people do with their digital photos and how this has changed in relation to the 2005 survey. It also monitors changes in photo printing behaviour.


It is apparent that the maturing digital camera market presents vendors with new challenges. In relation to early adopters, mainstream consumers and late adopters are less tech-savvy, less likely to use their digital cameras often, less likely to print photos and less likely to understand how to store photos.


The study revealed that 24 percent of digital camera owners reported having no long-term storage plans in 2006, compared to just seven percent in 2005.


Mainstream consumers and late adopters also have less disposable income than early adopters do, and are therefore more price-sensitive.


Camera phones continue to be hotly debated, although this debate has perhaps shifted from viewing camera phones as a threat to digital cameras to considering the opportunities that they represent.


The report indicates that camera phones continue to propel the digital camera market. Almost a third of households that are planning to purchase their first digital camera within the next 12 months say that they most often use a camera phone for taking photos.


Researchers believe that during 2006 camera phones are the key drivers for digital camera sales to consumers who are late adopters.


Mette Eriksen, a consultant for InfoTrends and co-author of the report, says that one of the most surprising findings of the survey was the level of loyalty among those who print at home. "However," she adds, "photo print volumes are shifting towards retail locations and online photo services as awareness of these other printing methods is increasing.


"We discovered that the preferred print location depends on the size of the job; printing just a few photos is best suited for home, while large jobs are sourced to retailers or online photo services."


The survey, which comprises responses from internet users in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, also indicates strong regional differences in printing behaviour. On average, respondents from Germany and the UK were more likely to print at home, while respondents from Spain and Italy were printed at retailers.


"The significant differences in print behaviour in each country indicate that vendors should not treat their marketing activities as pan-European, but must instead establish and address the needs of consumers in each country," says Eriksen.


The percentage of respondents who use hard-copy prints as a storage method in 2006 was about half of that in 2005, suggesting that the most familiar method of storing photos is no more likely to appeal to late adopters than it did to those who entered the fray early on.


Although the size of the electronic storage market is difficult to monetise, industry vendors are advised to maintain consumers’ positive digital photography experiences by ensuring the accessibility of all photos.