Earlier this month I took a trip to Birmingham to attend the PMA Europe Conference organised by PMA Europe. It was a 2-day conference but unfortunately I could only attend the 2nd day. The conference had
a really interesting line-up of speakers and there were some truly jaw-dropping products on display at the exhibition hall.
The conference attendees were mostly photo-retailers and mini-labs. The first talk I attended on day #2 was ‘How Can technology improve customer service ?’ by Mark Keohane of Fujitsu. This talk was mostly about APMs (Automated Photo Machines or Kiosks) and how more APMs (provided by Fujitsu of course ;-) ) can make for happier customers at retail stores.
The next talk I heard – and to be honest, this talk alone was worth the trip – was by Stephen Giordano of Lucidiom. Stephen’s talk was titled “The Long Tail: Less is more”. In the world of Imaging software (and hardware), Lucidiom are the 800lb gorilla, which makes Stephen Giordano the Bill Gates / Steve Jobs of Imaging software.
Lucidiom have something like 40,000 Photo Kiosks throughout the United States and have collected a bewildering amount of data from hundreds of millions of photos printed on those kiosks. They can tell which photos are good (based on the histogram), the make and model of camera a photo was taken with and lots more (presumably from the EXIF data embedded in the JPEG format). If any company is qualified to talk about the Long tail of digital photography, Lucidiom is.
Giordano began by saying that for consumer photography “Film is effectively dead. It’s been dead in the US for some time now and it will soon be dead in the UK too.” Consumers however are only now realising what’s possible with Digital photography, and retailers need to adjust to the new reality.
The bulk of Lucidiom’s business is from Kiosks which account for 95% of prints. Currently only 5% of business is from Internet orders but this side of their business is growing at a rate of 25% each year.
He talked briefly about Camera Demographics (makes and models of cameras collected in Lucidiom’s database) before moving on to the more interesting topic of People Demographics. Women aged between 18 and 35 are the main buyers of photo prints and merchandise. In the US female owners of photo stores are doing better business than their male counterparts. Photo stores which have been “feminized” do better business because they become destination stores (like Starbucks). What this means for photo store owners is stores must be cleaned up and revamped. Get rid of the clutter. Add coffee machines and couches. Have a play area for kids. He summed it up as …
Film is the horse around 100 years ago. Digital is the Car. You sell Ferrari’s in a showroom, not a stable.
Stephen Giordano is a well-spring of money-making ideas and his energy is infectious ( I guess that’s why he’s CEO – If Kodak were smart they’d acquire Lucidiom even if only to get Giordano ). He’d like to see APMs (photo kiosks) in Maternity Hospitals and Nursery schools (20 visits per month – donate some of the revenue to the school). Lucidiom’s Beyond 4×6 strategy is all about steering customers towards photo products: Posters are really popular among teenage girls, Photo books are doing tremendous business ( “and the kicker is : they buy multiples !” ) . He describes Photo DVDs as a “sleeper product” with high margins.
He estimates that there are 3.5 Trillion (yes – Trillion) photos sitting in shoe boxes so the market for scanning and merchandising is also potentially huge. Some retailers offer a service whereby they’ll scan your old prints and put them on a DVD, but their service stops there. This is a Huge mistake – make it easy for consumers to pick the best photos and turn them into posters, calendars and other products at the point-of-scan.
I came away from Stephen Giordano’s talk totally buzzing with ideas and just a little overwhelmed at the volume of information he packed into just 1 hour. I was furiously scribbling notes and I’ve only captured some of the many nuggets of information and wisdom packed into that talk. If Giordano is speaking at the forthcoming PMA conference in Las Vegas I’ll be there.
During lunch I got to chat with one of the organizers of PMA UK who told me that the World conference in Las Vegas is on a completely different scale – a staggering 22,000 people passed thru the conference during it’s 5 days last year. The problem PMA have is choosing a venue big enough to accomodate their world conference. This dwarfs any of the Web2.0 conferences I’ve recently attended.
Out in the trade-show hall some of the big names had impressive displays of just how big you can print your photos. Some of the prints were laid out on the floor and were as big as our living room. All in all it was a great event and I’m looking forward to the PMA world conference in Las Vegas in January 2008.