Print shops of all sizes can consider gearing up now to take advantage of the 2012 photobook/calendar glut. After all, the holiday shopping season is only nine months away, at most, and the creation and production of on-demand photo imaging products is growing by leaps and pages. Research shows that there’s ample market share for printers to grab.
“Attracting more first-time buyers into the photo merchandise market will be essential to success,” explains David Haueter, an InfoTrends associate director. While statistics are not yet available for 2011, “InfoTrends consumer research data shows that, in 2010, only 32 percent of survey respondents had purchased any type of photo merchandise in the past year. This was an increase over 2009 numbers (25 percent), but there is still nearly 70 percent of the population that [had] not purchased photo merchandise in the last year.”
So, why is there such explosive photobook growth, even among younger people, in the age of downloads and hard drives? Facebook albums aside, “We need to impose order on our sprawling digital collections,” a 30-year-old told me.
Publicly traded Shutterfly, founded in 1999 and based in Redwood City, CA, posted revenues of more than $480 million last year. In the third quarter alone, prior to the holiday rush, some $56 million was attributed to what the firm calls “personalized products and services”—a 73 percent increase over 2010. With manufacturing facilities in Phoenix, AZ, and Charlotte, NC, its revenues from commercial print were slightly south of $4 million for Q3 2011.
So just how big is photo
InfoTrends forecasts that the photo publishing and merchandise market will surpass $14 billion in retail sales by 2014. “Our forecast tracks the direct-to-consumer market (think Shutterfly, Snapfish, Pinhole Press, Walmart Photo) and the photo-intensive, business-to-business market (portfolio books, brochures, postcards, etc.),” explains Matthew Rees, senior consultant of InfoTrends’ Photo Publishing and Merchandise Business Development Strategies Service. Rees offers the following breakdown for each market: the B2B market will reach $12 billion in 2014, while the consumer side is projected to hit $2.2 billion.
As the inaugural combined PMA@CES tradeshow and DIMA conference wrap up in Vegas mid-month, I’m reminded of just how large the photo imaging business is becoming for printers—big enough to warrant its own pavilion this coming October at Graph Expo 2012. Tied to the Photo Marketing Association (PMA), the Photo Imaging Pavilion will feature both output and finishing equipment. “Over the past two to three years, GASC has seen consistent growth in the attendance of photo imaging professionals at Graph Expo and Print shows,” notes Chris Price, VP of GASC. “This happened without a concerted marketing effort.” Last fall’s show hosted a co-located event by the Independent Photo Imagers, which will be repeated this year.
“The output space is…represented by the manufacturers/exhibitors at Graph Expo and Print shows,” Price continues. “This has helped attract the photo imagers looking for new digital printing equipment. Dry mini-labs, which dominated the shops of photo imagers and retailers, have lost popularity to the new faster, higher quality color digital output printers available today.”
Indeed, open publisher Lulu.com is among those employing durable HP Indigo digital presses for its customers’ photobook printing needs. (See sidebar.) Apple Computer reportedly uses some place in Oregon and/or Northern California (they ship from Elk Grove, near Sacramento) to print its iPhoto products, which are quite gorgeous, offering full-bleed wraps around hardcover photobooks. Some divisions within Consolidated Graphics are big into HP Indigo-printed photobooks, and many printing franchises, including some in the Allegra Network, now offer related services for this niche.