Photo printing poised for growth, according to report

Innovations in business models, technology and products are keys to driving photo-printing revenues, according to the “Expanding the U.S. Photo Printing Market” report from F/22 Consulting and Photo Imaging News. While conventional prints continue to enjoy the largest share of orders and unit sales, sustained growth will be driven by continuous personalized product innovation.

Expanding the U.S. Photo Printing Market
Expanding the U.S. Photo Printing Market

“It’s critical to reflect on the fact that the entire U.S. consumer photo printing revenue at the peak of the analog era (1999) was $6.5 billion,” the report states. “More than 90% of that revenue came from the non-discretionary printing of original 4×6 prints from rolls of film and one-time-use cameras. In 2016, total revenues crossed over $4B and every dollar of it is now discretionary.  Without a doubt, the radical transformation of consumer photography has decimated a formerly successful analog printing business, even as it continues to create and expand an entirely new digital printing one.

“There are major and ongoing transitions in what printed photo products consumer buy when they purchase them, and (more importantly) how and where they purchase them.”

The report authors estimated the combined consumer and professional photo printing sales were a combined $10 billion in 2016.

Printing value per order are on the increase

The report highlights four key trend drivers:

  • Smartphone Photo Capabilities (quality capture, advanced software, instant sharing)
  • Cloud Photo Services (auto-syncing, advanced organization)
  • AI (transforming digital files into automated photo product solutions)
  • Luxury to mass market (printing innovation drives down product costs, new business models)

The “Expanding the U.S. Photo Printing Market” report is divided into two sections, one retail/consumer markets and the second on the professional photography market, which is diversified market ranging from passport photos and weddings to yearbooks and senior portraits.

Most of the report is dedicated to the retail and consumer market, including online, mobile and in-store innovations. The data is buttressed by specific examples from brands like f and more, as well as insights from many industry executives.

The consumer photo printing market is going through a transformation, as unit orders decline, the revenue per order is climbing as consumers choose more high-value personalized products.

“As traditional prints decline as a share of orders, the units-per-order decline is sharpened, even as the revenue-per-unit produced increases,” the report said. “Retail store production is likely to continue to represent a smaller percent of overall photo output (a reflection of diminished retail chain investment appetite, fewer retailers offering in-store production, and consumer preference for a broader portfolio of personalized products.)”

The report states the total retail consumer photo printing revenue was $3.778 billion in 2016, and is expected to grow to $4.475 billion by 2018. The growth reflects growth in orders fulfilled by print service providers and an increase in average selling price.

In the professional market, the report says, in 2016, there were 248.5 million customers in the professional market, divided among three major markets: Conventions/events, Schools and Portraits.