Reports released today from both PMA Marketing Research and InfoTrends confirm that digital camera ownership has now reached 20% in the US. A new product is often considered to have reached mass market appeal after achieving a 22% penetration.

The Path from Pixels to Prints

The Challenge of Bringing Digital Imaging to the Mass Market

At the end of 2002 approximately 23 million U.S. households – nearly 20 percent – owned digital cameras. During the life cycle of a technology, a new product is often considered to have reached the early majority – or the mass market – after achieving 22 percent penetration. Digital cameras are close to reaching this point. In addition, the changing demographics of digital camera users are critical to the movement of these products into the mass market. As the most photo active households – generally women and families with young
children – begin to use digital cameras, the technology moves closer to becoming a mainstream product. The challenge, of course, will be providing the infrastructure for these consumers to print their digital images and to successfully market these services.

Key Points

  • The increased sales of high-resolution models will contribute to consumer interest in the printing of digital images. Forty percent of digital cameras sold in 2002 featured 3 megapixels or more.
  • Sixteen percent of digital cameras sold in 2002 were purchased as a replacement for a film camera. If their film camera were to break, 50 percent of households indicated they would replace it with a digital camera.
  • Preservation of memories overtook sending photos by e-mail in 2002 as the top reason for taking pictures with a digital camera.
  • Twenty percent of digital images taken in 2002 were printed. The vast majority of these images were printed via home printers, although interest in retail printing continued to increase during 2002.
  • While the volume of conventional prints made in 2002 declined by 700,000 over the prior year, the volume of digital prints made grew by 1.3 million. Digital images accounted for 6.1 percent of the total volume of prints made in 2002.
  • Following 2002, households with digital cameras indicated their overall level of picture taking with their film cameras had declined by 19 percent since the acquisition of a digital model.
  • Sales of film rolls and film processing declined by 1 percent and 2 percent respectively during 2002.
  • The projected declines for 2003 are 4 percent and 3 percent respectively. Sales of one-time-use cameras, however, are expected to continue to grow at a rate of 8 percent.

Click here for the full PMA Marketing report (pdf)