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Consumers Printing Habits: A Blank Slate

8/01/2006 01:45:00 PM Eastern

TWICE:
Is the industry’s effort to convince consumers to print more kind of like closing the barn door after the horses have already fled? Since we’re on second- and third-generation digital camera owners, haven’t their habits and patterns already been established?

Lee: I don’t think the habits are ingrained yet. Most consumers that I run into and interact with are still asking about getting the pictures out of the camera. You hear the story about the guy that owns 18 SD cards because he doesn’t know what to do. He thought it was like his film and he keeps buying them and the retailer keeps selling them to him.

So I think that we’re really still at the infancy of how we decide to manage, store and even share today because that’s all still emerging. I think the retailer that can stay on the front edge of that curve is really going to win.

Campbell: I think consumer behavior was ingrained in the film world and the way they treat their film images. When they walk into the digital world they’re open to figuring out the right solution. And I think consumers are still trying to figure it out. It’s our job to figure out how to provide those solutions to them as well as working with the retailers to provide those solutions for them.

Carr: We're really in chapter one of this whole disruptive technology called digital. Consumers were very comfortable in the film world because they knew exactly how to behave. Now in chapter one of digital photography, we’re mimicking the old way. So I’ve got to get a 4 by 6 print, and I’ve got to print every picture, and I’ve got to know how to organize them. But look at a disruptive change like digital music. Digital music in the first chapter was a CD. All right, it looks like a record and plays like a record on a device. Now look at music — music is part of everybody’s life. It was unleashed.

Chapter two is just starting. Chapter two is where these buyers are getting a little more savvy. They're finding out there are more options for them. And it's really going to change the whole landscape of digital imaging. I think it’s going to be an explosive [change] that we’re all going to benefit from, but we’ve got to stop thinking like the film world and that’s where the consumer is right now, just beginning to realize that it’s beyond the film world.

Lee: I would agree with that, but I think we need to take it one step back — we have to figure out how to get the retailer to stop thinking about the film days because that’s what they most recently experienced. When we get them on board with what can happen in the future, I think then the consumer comes along.

Carr: You know we’re up to 40 percent or more who have lost images on a hard-drive crash or CDs that got chipped or lost. So the more that kind of word-of-mouth bad experience spreads, the more people worry about protecting their images. Our studies say that on average digital camera owners who are pretty serious users are sitting on 900 to 1,500 images on their PC. Honestly, if the industry just said, “Just print the most precious ones, the most precious third of them,” that alone would give a bump to the industry that would be awesome. So it will take a little bit of fear and a little bit of inspiration.

Peck: Really the best way to archive images is to print those photos. The perception that my hard drive lasts forever or a CD or DVD lasts forever is wrong. We need to educate the customers. If you said to someone that within 10 years or 15 years all your images are going to be gone, they’d panic. We had an internal technology conference — we had 400 people in shock when we told them that the best way to protect your images for a lifetime is to print them out and put them in a photo album.

Carr: That’s a tremendous opportunity for these online sharing sites. The way we’ve built our Easy Share software, as soon as you upload your pictures to your desktop it automatically uploads them to our Easy Share Gallery Web site, so they’re already stored somewhere. And then you can order at the end of each year a photo book or you can order the set of prints or an archive CD.

It’s not perfect yet, but it’s a path where you’re offloading and you’re storing someplace else and you have other printing options that you didn’t have before. It’s about moving photos someplace else without even thinking about it. That’s the hard part for the consumer. If the customer has to think about it and get home and do it, it’s too hard.

Campbell: You walk down the streets of New York [and] everybody’s got ear buds hanging off their shoulders because they’re listening to their iPod. Wouldn’t it be great if everybody was looking at their pictures on their iPod or camera phone and taking those pictures home to sit as a family with their new plasma TV and look at their images. So there’s an opportunity for this consumer lifestyle to really take hold from a digital photography perspective. Printing is important and I certainly believe that is a part of this category. But also the consumer digital lifestyle is going to become much more critical as our digital world evolves.

TWICE:
So it sounds as if the window of opportunity for retailers to make investments in printing hasn’t closed.

Lee: Not at all.