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Enthusiasts’ intent to buy running strong

Enthusiast magazine and website Photo Review’s annual Australian Photo-enthusiast’s Survey indicates plenty of interest in purchasing new gear in 2014, and provides some valuable insights into what sources of information are seen as credible by this critically important group of photo retailing customers.

PRevThe survey was well-supported by subscribers, with almost 10 percent of over 4000 readers taking the time to contribute responses. (The success point for surveys of this kind is anything over 2 percent, according to market research specialists.)

The respondents comprised 20 percent Semi-professional or Professional Photographers; 31 percent who categorised themselves as Advanced Amateurs; 41 percent who saw themselves as Mid-Level; with just 13 percent seeing themselves as Novices.

The survey reinforced the fact that photo enthusiasts are influential: 92 percent give photographic advice to friends, colleagues and relatives, and nearly half (48 percent) proffer advice at least once per month.

‘As more photo enthusiasts take up compact ILCs, their influence on purchases may well grow, because compact ILCs are likely to be more attractive to their friends, colleagues and relatives than the bulkier DSLRs,’ noted Photo Review’s publisher, David O’Sullivan.

The response to the question, ‘What to you plan to buy in next 2 years?’ should give photo retailers cause for optimism, and an insight into what product categories might be the big movers in 2014/15:

Purchase intentions
– 78 percent plan to buy storage products in the next 2 years;
– 75 percent plan to buy a lens;
– 68 percent plan to buy photo software (indicating possible opportunities for digital darkroom, printing, display, archiving, and storage products);
– 52 percent plan to buy a DSLR (down from 59 percent last year, but still strong);
– 52 percent plan to buy flash/lighting gear in the next 2 years;
– 39 percent plan to buy a photo printer in the next 2 years;
– 35 percent plan to buy a compact ILC (last year 34 percent was total for both ILC and fixed lens compacts);
– 27 percent plan to buy a scanner in the next 2 years.

Online purchases
– 75 percent plan to buy something online – this has been static for the last two years;
– 30 percent now buy regularly online from a local retailer – down from 36 percent last year;
– 26 percent buy regularly online from an overseas company – down from 28 percent last year.

‘There’s still a significant number of photo enthusiasts buying regularly from overseas companies, despite all the possible problems and an exchange rate which makes the deal less enticing,’ said Mr O’Sullivan. ‘The high level of overseas purchase is likely to continue if overseas sites – both camera review sites and online retailers – continue to enjoy earlier access to new cameras than the local ‘ecosystem”.’

– This comment highlights an emerging issue with marketing in a globalised marketplace: While new camera announcements reach all parts of the world virtually simultaneously, and are almost always immediately followed by leading overseas sites such as Adorama and B&H offering the product for pre-order, with a price advertised, there is a costly lag before Australian retailers are able to do the same. Likewise, early product availability for local camera reviewers tends to be patchy.

An additional question this year focused on this trend: Some review websites are run by retailers (eg DP Review is owned by Amazon and has its own on-website retail store). Does this make you wary about the credibility of their reviews?

– While 50 percent of respondents did worry about the credibility of review websites owned by retailers, the other half either didn’t care or didn’t think it was an issue.

Given that the survey group regularly pass on advice to other potential customers, where they themselves get their information is a critical question. Judging by the following responses, camera companies who sink too much of their marketing budget into becoming website publishers in their own right may be throwing good money after bad. Company websites rated low as an important source of information – just ahead of department stores – and well below photo specialists!

Product information – key influencers
In answer to the question: When you want advice on buying photographic equipment, how important are the following information sources?

Expert review websites
Expert review websites and photo magazines are twice as important to enthusiasts as camera company websites when it comes to buying advice.

-89 percent see expert review websites as important for buying advice;
– 78 percent see photography magazines as important for buying advice;
– 71 percent see other photographers as important for buying advice;
– 68 percent see user review websites as important for buying advice;
– 55 percent see photo specialist stores as important for buying advice;
– 50 percent see website forums (eg, Whirlpool) as important for buying advice;
– 40 percent see company websites as important for buying advice;
– 13 percent see department stores as important for buying advice.

Social media use
All social popular social media sites are more popular this year than last: Facebook 61 percent; LinkedIn 29 percent; Twitter 17 percent; Pinterest 11 percent; Tumblr 5 percent.

Other findings
– 38 percent regularly use a mirrorless interchangeable camera (ILC) – up from 26 percent last year;
– 96 percent want to see camera accessory reviews (up from 93 percent last year);
– 81 percent look at ads, while 58 percent respond to special offers in ads and 50 percent respond to tech features in ads.
– We thank Photo Review for generously sharing this survey data with Photo Counter and its readers. Australian marketing data for photo retailers is thin on the ground these days!














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