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Global photo print projections: It’s a mug game!

Photo labs will need to stock upon mugs, mouse mats and keyrings if the latest report from US  market research outfit Future Market Insights, ‘Photo Printing and Merchandise Market (2018 – 2028)’  holds any connection to reality. But does it?

The press release accompanying the report on global photo printing projections – yours for a cool US$5000 – seems hell-bent on arguing that what it calls ‘merchandise printing products’, and industry insiders generally call ‘photo gifts’  – mugs, pillows, cushions, T-shirts, etc – are going to dominate the entire global photo printing industry. But this simply isn’t supported by the meagre facts supplied.

Global photo print projections
The FMI report also makes a pretty safe bet on online ordering increasing its share of the photo printing market in the next 10 years. By the way, this is how FMI defines the ‘Over The Counter’ segment: ‘Over the Counter segment covers small unorganized photo studios having hired photographers for clicking photos of individuals.’ – Say what!?

‘Photo printing currently accounts for a major share of the total market revenue, owing to continued popularity of printed photographs among consumers. However, it is most likely that the photo printing segment will lose its market share (our italics) to merchandise printing…’ states the press release.

– But it also notes that by 2028, ‘revenue contribution through merchandise printing to the global photo printing and merchandise market value is anticipated to reach around 25 percent.’ Pardon? So after 10 years of photo printing relentlessly losing market share to photo gifts, photographic prints share of the pie will still be 75 percent? This hardly justifies the startling headline: MERCHANDISE TO TAKE OVER PHOTO PRINTING

The other weird thing about the report is that photo books are included as ‘merchandise print products’. Surely photo books are more a modern alternative to a photo album, rather than photo merchandise? Because while you can sit on a photo cushion (whoopee!) and wear a selfie T-shirt if you want, photographic prints and photo books share the characteristic that they are for preserving memories and sharing images. All you can do is look at them.

So a less convoluted take on the FMI report is that over the next 10 years the photo printing market will grow very slowly (2.6 percent compound annual growth) but will still account for three-quarters of revenue for photo labs by 20128. Photo merchandise (including photo books in this report) is growing slightly faster (4.4 percent compound annual growth) from a tiny small base.

Future Market Insights seems to have looked past the real insight that would be most useful for photo labs, professional photo studios and photo retailers in general: what proportion of the growth in ‘merchandise print products’ (what does that even mean?) is attributable to photo books.

If we knew that, we would know if photo books were evolving as a replacement product for photographic prints.

FMI states the global photo printing and merchandise market is currently worth about $24.4 billion.

(We contacted FMI for some clarification and comment but with no luck so far.)











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