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Home >> Getting a Picture of the Digital Camera Owner
Unlike the elusive monster at Loch Ness, whose existence is surmised by the murkiest of photographic evidence, digital camera owners are revealing themselves in full relief, giving manufacturers and retailers an opportunity to take the measure of this ever-growing beast.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) “Coming into Focus: Digital Cameras and Consumers” online survey of digital camera owners, consumers' principle desire when camera shopping is finding a model that produces high-quality images. CEA also found that, by and large, consumers were satisfied with the quality of images they were getting from their digital cameras.
Consumers are less sanguine about the battery life of their cameras, ranking it last among features they were satisfied with, CEA found.
The survey also quantified the looming challenge confronting the imaging industry: how to store, organize, archive and monetize the billions upon billions of digital photos that will be snapped over the next decade.
The survey found that camera owners take 47 digital photos a month — a rate of photographic activity higher than traditional film camera use. If those figures remain constant across the digital camera owner base, there will 116 billion digital photos in the next five years alone. The majority of these photos, over 90 percent of them, will be stored on PC hard drives. CEA estimated that consumers are currently storing 52 million gigabytes worth of digital images on their hard drives today.
“With such a great volume of digital photos to store and more to come, the question then is: What will consumers use to store them?” CEA wondered.
Some additional findings:
Barriers to Buying: CEA found “price remains the No. 1 barrier to digital camera ownership,” despite significant declines in unit pricing. Other consumers surveyed said they “didn't take enough pictures to warrant a purchase” (36 percent of non-owners). Only 12 percent of non-owners said they found the technology too confusing and 16 percent were still in thrall to film photography.
Software: When it comes to imaging software, what's in the box is good enough, CEA found. Of camera owners, 84 percent said they used the software included in their cameras and 40 percent use after-market software. CEA found that consumers are using imaging software mainly to crop their digital images, remove red-eye, make enlargements and color enhancements to their images.
Specialty's Specialty: CEA found product satisfaction was strongest when the camera was purchased with the aid of a knowledgeable sales associate. Half of CEA respondents said they spoke with retail reps at a CE or camera specialty store, and over half said the camera specialty reps were the most knowledgeable.
Consumers who bought digital cameras at photo specialty stores also reported high levels of satisfaction with the product, leading CEA to conclude that a “positive correlation exists between the knowledge of sales representatives and purchasers' overall satisfaction with digital cameras.”
Studious Consumers: Camera buyers are doing their research, CEA noted. The majority, 78 percent, consulted friends and family before purchase while 51 percent reconnoiter retail stores before reaching for their wallets — and over one-third read product descriptions in-store. The Web plays its part as well, CEA found, with over one-third of camera owners reporting visiting a manufacturer's Web site for information.
Camera Phone Threat: While concern abounds among traditional camera dealers about the impact of mobile imaging, CEA found 29 percent of camera phone owners didn't even use the camera and 28 percent did so to “take disposable snapshots.” A slightly smaller percentage use the camera like a traditional wallet photo to display images of family.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.