PIV: German photo market still struggling

Frankfurt-based Photo Industry Association (PIV) reports the German photo and imaging market continues to decline in the second year of the pandemic. Rising average prices, the prospect of new product launches and recurring photo events should nevertheless give the industry a positive impetus this year. Photo products also remain popular with consumers.

Market figures published by the PIV and GfK show a decline of around 16.6 percent in volume and around 6 percent in value for 2021 compared to the previous year. The trend towards more quality, however, when buying cameras and towards investments in the area of ​​moving images continued. This was particularly evident in the compact system cameras (CSC) segment, the value of which grew by around 10.5 percent compared to the previous year. There was also a significant increase in demand for high-priced lenses – CSC lenses in particular were high on consumers’ wish lists. So CSC lenses lead both in quantity (+ 10.5%) and in value (+ 23.4%). Sales of instant cameras and films also continued to develop, with strong level of sales from the previous year was maintained despite difficult market conditions. All figures listed in this text are based on the GfK Point of Sales Tracking results from DE 2021 compared to the previous year, supplemented by the sales channels not collected by GfK.

Weak Christmas business

In the summer of 2021, market participants were still assuming that the forthcoming Christmas business with value-added campaigns by the industry and sales measures by the specialist trade would result in a positive annual result in the overall digital camera market. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, these expectations were not met. Delivery bottlenecks, especially for high-priced models, led to sales losses of up to 30 percent in the photo trade in December 2021 compared to the previous year. With the emergence of the new Sars-Cov-2 variant Omikron, this negative trend was already apparent at the beginning of the fourth quarter. In addition to the lack of availability of models, a general decline in consumers’ willingness to spend also contributed to the drop in demand, as inflation and rising energy costs had a negative impact.

Photo books and photo products still in demand

The photofinishing sector also proved to be a reliable constant in 2021. High-quality print products were again in high demand, particularly during the Christmas business. This led both in the business field of photo books (+ 1.7% in value, around EUR 315 million in sales) and in photo articles such as murals, calendars, greeting cards, etc. (+ 9.3% in value, around EUR 398 million). sales) to a positive result in the 2021 financial year. The fact photo service providers pushed ahead with the transformation to digital business models at an early stage paid off here: The vast majority of photo products are now ordered online or via mobile apps.

The trend towards video unabated among Generation Z

Moving images are becoming increasingly important for users. Recording devices and accessories for video were more in demand than ever in 2021 and are ensuring a positive market development. Sales of camcorders, especially high-priced camcorders, rose by 13 percent to around EUR 37 million. Thanks to vlogging and the like, steadicams continued to be in high demand (+ 16.6% in value, around EUR 28 million in sales). Social media and home office are constantly presenting the photo/video sector with new requirements.

Growth in the premium segment

According to PIV, the market development in 2022 will depend heavily on the further course of the pandemic. If there are no lockdowns and vaccination setbacks, photo events and occasions – such as wedding celebrations or long-distance travel – will return and thus encourage the desire to take pictures. But one thing is already clear, according to PIV: In 2022, consumers will also be willing to spend their money on premium products and will also accept higher average prices. The industry is therefore assuming the value of the market will remain stable this year. The fact that more and more people are enjoying moving images, whether at the vlogging level for social media or as professional filmmakers, will continue to motivate manufacturers and retailers to adapt their product portfolios to this trend in the medium and long term in order to offer both new and also to mobilize existing customers.