GfK: global photo market trend towards high-value cameras

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The situation in the worldwide photo market is lacking a clear direction, according to market research group GfK.

The results from the 64 countries researched (excluding North America) show that the market for cameras for beginners continues to suffer from the impact of the ‘Smartphone Challenge’ and that it registered in the first half of 2014 a significantly lower revenue than in the equivalent period last year. Even the value sales trend on D-SLR cameras is negative and it was also responsible for a declining trend in value sales within the photo market as a whole (minus 18%). On the other hand, value sales of compact system cameras grew by 7%. On compact digital cameras, high-value products are demonstrating relative stability.

The photo functions of smartphones are continually improving, GfK says. In particular, they are providing increasingly powerful competition for basic compact cameras equipped with simple zooms. Another important aspect of competition is the desire of consumers to share with other people photos which they have taken. Globally, in the year 2014 it is expected that around 1.25 billion smartphones will be sold. That represents growth of around 25% compared with the previous year. With the smartphone boom, photography is becoming increasingly popular. This provides opportunities for camera manufacturers GfK believes: with further improved picture quality, the feel of the product/simplicity of operation and functionality cameras can differentiate themselves from smartphones. Additionally, WiFi-capable cameras also make ‘connected’ functions possible. Currently, 31 percent of digital cameras are equipped with a WiFi-function.

In the first half of 2014, the market for D-SLR cameras registered a sharply negative trend. Sales by value were 23% down compared with the previous year. This applied to both full format cameras and to D-SLR cameras with relatively small sensors. One possible explanation lies firstly with market saturation, and on the other hand also it may be due to a drop in price of 8%, leading to an average of 571 Euros.

Events in the interchangeable lens business are closely connected with developments in the area of single lens and mirrorless cameras, GfK adds. The decline in value sales amounted here to 2%. The average number of lenses sold per camera body fell in the case of SLR cameras to 1.35 lenses, and in the case of compact system cameras to 1.18 lenses.

There is good news to report on compact system cameras: growth in volume sales amounted to 7% while value sales grew by 8%. This was caused firstly by a larger choice of cameras on the market, and also by the improvement in quality of the WiFi-function (60%), and equally the larger sensors play an important role. This development has a direct impact on the price: the price of compact system cameras was on average 374 Euros. The increase in price amounted to 6%. In total, compact system cameras accounted for 22% of value sales from cameras with interchangeable lenses.

There continue to be within the fixed lens camera category relatively stable segments. They include the slim travel zoom cameras, which are equipped with a 20X zoom or more. Within a difficult market environment, during the first half of 2014 this segment equalled the volume sales achieved in the comparable period of 2013. As a result of the continuing downward pressure on prices, this segment registered a decline in sales value of 14%. Currently, 15% of fixed lens camera sales by value are already being achieved with travel zoom cameras. The average price was about 210 Euros. Prices fell by 12%.

During the first half of 2014, fixed lens cameras with a large sensor (size equivalent to 1/1.7 Inches) found a total of 4% more buyers than in the previous year. However, value sales declined by 9% compared with the previous year.

In addition to an extremely exciting market for accessories, there is also currently a requirement to pay greater attention to sales value and less to volume sales. According to GfK, the focus on cameras lies more than ever on innovation and the cameras’ picture quality. That is what manufacturers and retailers have (to a certain extent) been attempting to achieve, and it can be seen in the success of high value digital cameras and their 6% higher average price.

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