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Camera market resumes global growth

October 15, 2010: The global photo market is again experiencing growth, after a dip in sales in some regions in 2009, according to GfK.

For 2010, GfK Retail and Technology is forecasting sales of 141 million digital cameras worldwide, which represents an increase on the peaks seen in 2008.

In the first half of 2010, the technical consumer goods market in 56 countries grew by more than 20 percent in value terms compared with the same period the prior year. The photo sector grew by 11 percent over the first half-year, and by as much as 19 percent in June alone.

‘…China has now become the second largest market for digital cameras behind the USA.’

Particular growth markets are the Eastern European countries (with an increase of 25 percent), Latin America (51 percent) and Asia (20 percent). As a result of this positive trend, the Middle East and Latin America have overcome the decline recorded in the previous year and are at a far higher level than in 2008.

The main growth drivers are digital and multimedia cameras. Sales of digital picture frames and camcorders did not reach the previous year’s level in value terms.

For 2010 as a whole, GfK Retail and Technology is anticipating that the digital camera market, which includes both compact cameras and system cameras with and without SLR technology, will see a sales increase in volume terms to over 141 million units. This market is very strongly driven by growth in Asia: in China, sales of over 14 million cameras are expected in 2010, and 16 million in 2011. On the one hand, this data reflects a high level of interest in the subject of photography among consumers. On the other, it is a sign of the still very low level of market saturation. This growth means that China has now become the second largest market for digital cameras behind the USA.

Consumers are currently displaying a high level of interest in high-quality digital compact cameras with a build-in interchangeable lens. This product segment is characterised by the very fast rate of technological development, and the increasing number of functions is encouraging many consumers to buy a second or third camera.

Digital SLR cameras recorded strong growth of 22 percent in the first six months of the year. They have been joined by system cameras without SLR technology, a product segment which appears to be establishing a new market field and creating demand potential both from the traditional SLR market and from the compact segment. In the second quarter of 2010 in particular, cameras in this market with interchangeable lenses recorded growth of 32 percent.

Storage looks promising

The number of technical products that use storage media, for example digital cameras, digital photo frames, mobile phones and smartphones, as well as camcorders and notebooks, continues to rise. These markets are seeing particularly positive growth in Russia, the Middle East and Latin America. Consequently, demand for memory cards is also increasing.

Although recording an overall decline of 13 percent in unit sales volume in Western Europe, storage capacity and value sales have grown by 16 percent and 2 percent respectively. The regions of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America have seen a rise in sales of between 5 percent and 7 percent in volume terms, an increase of 50 percent in storage capacity and growth in sales of between 20 percent and 28 percent in value terms.

Although the smartphones market continues to enjoy very dynamic growth, demand for micro cards which are used in phones is not rising to the same extent. In contrast, cards for digital cameras and camcorders are on an upward trend. SD cards should receive a special mention here, as they are showing very positive overall development and corresponding value growth.

Average prices have increased by 28 percent per card in Western Europe, and by as much as 38 percent in Eastern Europe. This means that clear trend reversals are emerging in these product groups.

Australian scene

In Australia, GfK figures for cameras show growth compared to 2009. Overall unit sales increased from 148,000 in August 2009 to 166,500 in August 2010. It’s well worth noticing, however, that the total dollar value generated from these sales remained the same – indicating that unit prices have fallen.

The changeable lens category seems to be where the value is for retailers, relatively speaking, with an increase in unit sales from 10,600 in 2009 to 15,500 in 2010. This represented an increase in value of just under 20 percent – so unit value slipped, but the category still made more money than the same period the previous year.

The compact category, on the other hand, while enjoying an increase in unit sales from 137,00 to 151,000 when August 2009 is compared to August 2010, did not make as much money in August, 2010.

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