Kodak Turns Atlanta Into Digital Print Lab

By Greg Scoblete On May 19 2003 - 6:00am

Five months into the retail test of its digital print kiosk, Kodak has decided to transform its Atlanta project from a straight market test with a definitive end date into a "living laboratory" for gauging consumer digital photography habits, according to Paul Tucker, photofinishing marketing manager.

Atlanta will become the "launch base" for a nationwide rollout of Kodak's Picture Maker kiosks, Tucker said. All the equipment will remain in those retail outlets at Kodak's expense so that the company can continue to collect data and experiment with promotions and advertising.

The retail market test was launched last November with nearly 500 kiosks placed in retail locations to test whether and where digital camera owners would make prints from their flash memory cards. Variations of Kodak's Picture Maker kiosk were placed in 18 retail outlets including Best Buy, Circuit City, Staples, CompUSA, Eckerd, CVS, Rite Aid and Target.

The effort was complimented by an ad blitz across TV, print and radio with copious store-front signage to grab the consumer's attention.

While not willing to release precise channel numbers, Tucker indicated that based on an internal consumer study of 800 people (which served as the company's benchmark) the Atlanta test was running 5 percent to 10 percent ahead in total prints made. In terms of customer recognition, Tucker said that they saw it double, from 17 percent to 34 percent after a television ad campaign.

Kodak did reveal that nearly 90 percent of consumers believed the prints they made from the kiosks were as good or better than photos from traditional photofinishing.

According to Tucker, one early lesson from the test is that the consumer's film habits have remained consistent through the switch to digital cameras.

"They're making prints where they went to have film developed," Tucker said. This means that the drug stores, supermarkets and mass retailers are snaring the digital consumer when he/she goes in search of prints.

As for CE dealers involved in the test, they did not fare as well as the traditional photo destinations, despite enjoying a hefty volume of digital camera sales. Nor did the non-traditional destinations, principally hotels, which were also involved in the test.

This doesn't surprise PMA executive Gary Pageau, who said, "There isn't necessarily a one-to-one correlation between camera sales and prints made at that retail location."

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