Expansion, Storage, and Protection: Important Elements for Digital Camera Consumers

The digital imaging market is a picture worth a thousand words, or millions of dollars for manufacturers and retailers. As camera revenue growth begins to slow, it’s the accessories market that’s keeping business booming. According to The NPD Group’s retail tracking service, digital camera accessories, including items such as lenses, cases, batteries, speedlights, tripods, accessory kits, docks, lens filters and adapters, powerpacks and chargers, grew 29 percent in units from 2005 to 2006, and 40 percent in dollar volume.

From 2004 to 2006, the contribution of camera accessory revenue to the entire digital imaging market went from 9 percent to 13 percent. Lenses were the focus of the most growth in 2006, with dollar volume increasing 56 percent. Camera cases also generated great revenue growth in 2006, increasing 31 percent.

“The strong lens growth is really exciting, considering that 75 percent of DSLR units sold in 2006 came with one or two lenses hard-bundled with the camera,” said Liz Cutting, senior imaging analyst, The NPD Group. “This is evidence that DSLR buyers are willing to invest even more into their initial purchase to get the most out of their photographic experience.”

Both amateur and advanced camera buyers also invested in camera cases. In the photo specialty channel, the top four best-selling cases, based on dollar share, were made for DSLRs. Consumers shelled out more in photo specialty for camera cases, with the top 10 in 2006 ranging from $14 to $113 and the best-selling case topping out at $71. Across all channels in the imaging market, the top 10 camera bags ranged between $5 and $56, but the best-seller was only $9.

“As more cameras are geared towards particular lifestyles there is opportunity both in low- and high-touch channels for point-of-purchase displays and consultative selling that helps consumers envision and buy what they will need for their imaging outfit,” said Cutting. “As camera prices continue to decline, consumers may be more willing to spend a little extra to personalize and protect their camera and images.”

Storage, while not accounted for in the imaging accessories total, is a category that is growing rapidly. According to NPD’s consumer tracking service, 75 percent of memory cards purchased in 2006 were for digital cameras. NPD’s retail tracking service shows that flash memory cards increased 32 percent in 2006, USB flash drives increased 57 percent, and external hard drives increased 73 percent.

“There is a real opportunity here for retailers and manufacturers to embrace the growing digital camera install base,” said Cutting. “By the end of 2007 more than half of digital camera buyers will be on their second or greater camera and will be ready to explore more creative options with accessories, storage, sharing, printing, and camera care. It’s going to be up to the retailers and manufacturers to create welcoming environments and provide their customers with support and guidance.”