A recent reader survey by Photo Review magazine. in which almost 10 percent of the subscriber base participated, revealed that photo enthusiasts are moving towards the local photo specialist sector rather than away from it.
With the withdrawal of funding by PMA and IDEA for market research several years ago, the Australian photo industry has few opportunities to gain data-based insights into its key customer base – enthusiasts. This makes a third-party survey of this kind, which has now been conducted for several years, a valuable asset.
Of those surveyed, 18 percent classed themselves as Novices, 54 percent as Mid-level and 30 percent – including 19 percent who said they were pro or semi-pro shooters – saw themselves as Advanced Photographers.
The best news – assuming that these responses can be extrapolated to represent the enthusiast category more broadly – is that two out of three (66 percent) intend to buy photographic equipment regularly at an Australian photo specialist shop. Last year this figure was 64 percent.
While 78 percent plan to buy at least one photographic product or service online in the next 12 months (last year it was 73 percent), 34 percent regularly buy photographic equipment online from an Australian-based company – up from 30 percent last year.
Purchase from offshore online retailers has dropped, with only 20 percent buying photographic equipment regularly from a company based outside Australia. This was 25 percent last year, possibly reflecting the reduced buying power of the Australian dollar.
When it came to information sources used to research product purchases, expert review websites are still head and shoulders above other options, nominated by a full 90 percent of the respondents.
‘This vote of confidence for websites such as Photo Review tell us that there is a massive overlap between our readers and retailers’ photo specialist customers. In business terms, this is reflected in increasing levels of advertising support from the retail stores,’ said Photo Review publisher, David O’Sullivan.
‘We are all part of the same ecosystem, if you like.’
Photography magazines, other photographers, website forums, user review websites, company websites, and department stores have all fallen in the information source rankings. Photo specialist stores were cited by 56 percent of respondents as a valuable information source for buying advice (up from 54 percent), while department stores were only rated by five percent as a valuable source of information, less than half the 2014 figure of 13 percent.
‘This probably reflects the withdrawal from photo hardware sales by the mass merchants,’ said David O’Sullivan.
More than half are wary about the credibility of review websites run by retailers, such as DP Review (which is owned by Amazon and has its own branded online store).
The Photo Review readers are key influencers for their associates, with 89 percent giving photographic advice to family/friends/colleagues.
When it comes to product categories the respondents are interested in purchasing, the survey produced the following results:
– 87 percent intend to buy a new lens in the next 2 years (52 percent in the next 12 months);
– 77 percent plan to buy a storage product in the next 2 years;
– 43 percent plan to buy a DSLR, and 35 percent plan to buy a mirrorless interchangeable in the next 2 years;
– 34 percent plan to buy a printer in the next 2 years. (And when it comes to printers, twice as many are using Epson A3+ models as Canon A3+ models.)
Questions about the photographic activities of the surveyed group revealed that:
– 89 percent print their photos (52 percent at home, 47 percent at a lab, and 18 percent using an online print service;
– 58 percent regularly use a mid-level DSLR, 47 percent a high-end DSLR and 21 percent an entry-level model;
– Mirrorless interchangeable use has grown dramatically, with 42 percent regularly using one – up from just 26 percent two years ago;
– 74 percent shoot in RAW format.