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Retail Digital Imaging Printing Makes Gains

New York — Thanks to a widespread manufacturer and retail education effort, consumer awareness and the use of retail digital printing solutions is on the rise, but home printing still remains the method of choice for making digital prints.

The Framingham, Mass.-based research firm InfoTrends announced these and other results from an omnibus digital imaging survey at a Fujifilm-sponsored press conference held here on April 14.

The upsurge in consumer usage of retail printing services, now at 17 percent from 2002’s 5 percent, is largely due to an expanded base of retail printing equipment and an increase in consumer awareness driven by in-store advertising, said Kerry Flatley, senior research analyst, InfoTrends.

According to the survey, 68 percent of consumers polled said they were aware that their local photofinishing outlet could make prints from a digital camera, compared with 34 percent from a similar survey in 2002.

Paul D’Andrea, senior VP and GM, photo imaging, Fujifilm, hailed the results as a win for retail and a validation of the company’s efforts to drive digital printing toward retail. Fujifilm has a substantial stake in how, whether and where consumers make prints from their digital cameras. While other major competitors like Kodak and Sony have spread their bets, offering solutions for both retail and home printing, Fujifilm has largely targeted the retail arena with its Frontier digital minilab and suite of Aladdin kiosks.

For the investment to pay off, for both Fujifilm and its retail partners like Wal-Mart and Ritz Camera, consumers must flock to retail in large numbers to make prints from their digital cameras. Despite the marked upsurge in retail printing, home printing remains the overwhelming method of choice for digital camera owners, accounting for 92 percent of survey respondents (multiple responses allowed).

Additionally, 19 percent of digital camera owners reported not making any prints at all, a number that has grown from 15 percent in 2001.

Retail locations have the leg up on home printers when it comes to perceptions of image quality, Flatley said, and more consumers will be attracted to the retail option as prices for prints drop.

“We have put a lot of energy behind this and we feel the effort has been worthwhile,” D’Andrea said. He added that the future for retail printing looked to improve further as more mass-market consumers buy digital cameras, including the so-called ‘soccer mom’ demographic of suburban mothers who are used to getting their film prints at retail locations.

“The demographics are clearly in our favor,” D’Andrea said.