Armed with a sheath of salient facts and figures, and a positive but challenging message, Kodak Alaris worldwide marketing strategist Ed Monahan packed a half-day overview of the current market for photo services into a 60-minute presentation at the Specialty Photo Conference – delivered at breakneck speed!
A full report would require many thousands of words and probably not do justice to a presentation that veteran conference-goer, PMA executive director Peter Rose, categorised as one of the best he had heard. So with PMA intending to make copies of the presentation available for $15, we will pick a few choice quotes and recommend that readers make that modest investment…
Changing consumer dynamics
We at retail used to own the consumer engagement. They (consumers) had little opportunity to work around you. With mobile devices, apps and information sharing they are now are in control, they have the buying power…If we stay off the emotional vector, they are looking at who’s got the lowest price. They are talking about convenience and a consumer will always take the path of least resistance. And they are very cost-sensitive, particularly Millennials.
The smartphone opportunity
At the height of colour negative film in 2002 we had 100 billion captures. By 2018 there will be 1.5 trillion captures a year. Ninety percent of those will probably be on a smartphone of some type.
The smartphone, good or bad, is becoming the de facto camera. It’s growth, though, is not in print-worthy memories.
InfoTrends…says (consumers) will print from smartphones. Smartphone apps are actually driving print velocity and print statistics – it’s growing…It’s still in the consumer world regarded as too hard to get an image from a photo to a printer. It’s too complicated, it’s inconvenient and we’ve got to overcome those barriers.
What will drive printing?
We are now facing a generation of Millennials who have had a smartphone for five years and have not got that conditioned reflex to print. But InfoTrends is telling us that there are times in life, triggers or motivators, that will get people to print…when they travel, as they have information about children, photographing weddings, or special occasions.
So it’s not all doom and gloom, it’s opportunity. If you think about the cost of advertising through social media and the advantages that social media bring as a communication tool, never has there been a better opportunity to leverage the emotion of photography…to get people to print from a smartphone.
Right now in the US the penetration is still only 30 percent of the (smartphone) user base.
Right or wrong, printing is going to increase in the next 10 or 15 years as a result of that 1.5 trillion images. We have to embrace the smartphone as a mechanism used for photo capture and we have to allow for the fact they are going to use them in the generation of print activity.
So smartphones are a threat in many respects but at the same time they are holding onto images that consumers have some emotional attachment to. They are at the epicentre of the place where the consumer wants to transact new business with you as a retail photo specialist.
Screens and prints
Our challenge is that we have screens, we have the photo merchandise – photo books, cards, etcetera – and then we have prints. We really have two competitors in this world…they are not the big stores in this market and they are not each other in the room. They are Samsung and Apple. The reason people are not printing is they are gaining utility and the benefit (of images) on smartphone. What they’ve lost is that connection or touch to the emotional value of a print.
We’ve got to go back and find that emotional connection. We’ve got to reach them on an emotional level. That’s very hard to do on the internet, but in paired comparisons, print to screen, they’ll pick the print every time. But they are not picking the print, because we are letting them live in a screen-based world exclusively and we are not forcing them back into the store.
Is print dead?
Millennials are not reading the Sunday paper but they are reading more magazines than the generation before them…Print is not dead and in fact there’s a tremendous opportunity for print if we are willing to meet the market.
You are not in a catastrophically declining market. You are seeing a change in mix – prints are in decline. Photo books and photo merch are somewhat growing. What’s exciting to me about is this category growing is that this is your space. These are the products and services you should be making because they take touch points, they take customer care, they take ‘do it for me’. This is the space you can dominate.
We’ve got to come up with some game-changers. We’ve got to create compelling form factors that bring mum back into the store. New sizes, shapes and substrates We’ve got to position products which are for display, home decor.
Don’t commoditise your business
Millennials have leverage in a functional world. They will buy what they chose to buy at a price they choose to pay, provided it is functionally-based. That’s why the big box stores have shown up – because they are competing in the price discounting war…
You have got to get out of the commodity-based marketing space. You have got to stop defending the price of a 4×6 and start defending the emotional value you bring. You do what the big box guys can’t do because you have employees who are as passionate as the people who come into the store to buy. You can connect with people on an emotional level.
You need to reduce the leverage they (Millennial consumers) have because you are not selling a function.
If you are engaging your consumers on an emotional level, there should be no discussion on price. The first time price should come up is at the checkout counter.
I believe the world is going to be reduced to a triangle of offers – prints, pages and screens. Print for prominent display, permanence and quality advantage. Prints hold an emotional value to the consumer. You can hold on to a print. Mothers experience a richer, fuller emotional attachment to a child’s memory when they are touching a print, not looking at a Samsung screen.
Pages – it could be canvas, vinyl acrylic, T-shirts, mouse pads – are the way of the future. The problem we have is we don’t lead with prints. Most consumers are leading with socialisation and sharing – they are leading with their screens.
Our challenge is to say, ‘You know what, put 50,000 images on Facebook but if you wish to understand the emotional value we are offering you you’ve got to be using a photo print or a photo card.’
You guys can dominate this space because you have a full service offering…What makes you guys unique is you are more passionate sometimes than the mums that come into the store and that carries through. Don’t be afraid of your emotions…
Leverage this to your advantage…Monetise the passion your customers bring and that you bring – because that’s your competitive advantage.
– Email Barbara Bryan (firstname.lastname@example.org) to order your copy of Ed Monahan’s Australian presentation. It’s free to conference attendees and $15 for others – (Barbara is on holiday until December 8, so there may be a slight delay.)