The future of the photo/film business is with today's youth. The big name suppliers are placing their money on the "tween" market, targeting those between the ages of 9 and 15. According to Kodak marketing statistics, this group represents $130 billion in discretionary spending and $500 billion in spending influence.
This month, the Rochester, N.Y.-based film company launched its first youth marketing campaign in time for the back-to-school season. Sources report Kodak will spend $75 million over the next five years to promote its film and one-time-use cameras to teenage girls through all media channels.
Greg Johnson, Kodak's manager of strategic marketing for consumer imaging, told SN that teenage girls are the most lucrative group because research shows they are more than half as likely as boys to own a camera (75% vs. 49%). For teenagers, picture-taking is considered to be one of the most "in" activities, equal to dating, and it surpasses sports and hanging out at malls, said Johnson.
Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Elmsford, N.Y., is overhauling the designs of its single-use QuickSnap and some point-and-shoot cameras to make them more teen-appealing with colorful graphics and product features like the big viewfinder.
According to Matt Knickerbocker, vice president of marketing for Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., the supplier is working on developing cross promotions with brands that are strong with teenage girls. These promotions will be launched in the first half of the new year, but Knickerbocker declined to identify the possible co-promotional vendors.
"Most people start taking pictures around age 7, and for teen girls memory capture is a very, very important part of their lives. Children most frequently use disposable cameras," said Knickerbocker.
Cambridge, Mass.-based Polaroid, which recently entered the mass retail market with new products, will begin shipping its I-Zone instant camera, designed for teenagers, in September. The camera, priced at $24.99, produces a strip of miniature color photos slightly larger than postage stamps and offers sticker images, which are popular with the younger set.
"The I-Zone pocket camera taps into the tween market. This segment comes to the supermarket to purchase a variety of products," said Dave Lucas, Polaroid's vice president of marketing.
Products that appeal to tweens, added Lucas, "are really neat in that they don't cannibalize other items within the photo category."
Early on, Konica U.S.A., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., attempted to appeal to the youth culture with its single-use black-and-white camera. The camera was in part a spinoff of "a lot of music videos and TV commercials shot in black and white," said Paul Gordon, Konica's advertising manager.
Konica's new cameras are smaller, more colorful and contain fun elements such as larger control buttons. "They can be viewed as a fashion accessory," said Gordon. "To attract the youth market, our new products are being designed with an element of fun, since imaging and photography is still an entertainment vehicle."
To piggyback off the potential profits from future teenage camera sales, supermarket nonfood executives said they would give more consideration to displaying product outside the photo/film service desk and place it in areas frequented by teenagers like cosmetics, back-to-school, home office, greeting cards and magazine racks.
"Targeting young kids is where [film and photo] growth will come," said Kent Bolander, film category manager at Associated Grocers, Seattle. Associated includes all disposable cameras and film in all back-to-school and seasonal ad supplements, he said.
The one-time-use camera, which is the fastest moving segment for supermarkets, holds particular promotional appeal, said Bolander. "Kids take them to the beach, concerts and
dances, and use them for all kinds of fun things like underwater photos," added the nonfood manager.
Sales of single-use cameras for the 52-week period ended July 11 are up in double digits among all three mass channels of trade to $716.8 million, a 21.7% increase, according to ACNielsen, Schaumburg, Ill. Supermarkets, which captured just over a quarter of those sales, posted a 26.1% dollar volume increase to $185.7 million for the period.
"Going after the teen market offers supermarkets new sales opportunities to expand the film category," stressed Burt Flickinger 3rd, managing director of Reach Marketing, Westport, Conn.
Manufacturers, he added, need to develop Internet programs "with offers that will bring kids and teens from on-line to on-land stores using special offers and promotions." These offers can be linked through partnerships with Internet service providers such as AOL, Yahoo! and Microsoft Network, he added.
Retailers also can cash in on the lucrative teen audience with a better camera assortment and broader film offerings like color-slide films and a more complete camera battery selection, Flickinger advised.
Because parents and relatives often purchase cameras and accessories for the tween market, maintaining a more comprehensive product assortment could help supermarkets combat "the drug chains and mass merchandisers, which have pulled people out of supermarkets through their film and photo destination centers," Flickinger declared.
"Out-of-stocks and limited camera batteries turn consumers off, especially at peak evening hours and critically important seasonal periods like graduation, vacation and the fourth quarter," stressed Flickinger, who is also an adjunct professor in food marketing at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, and Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
The youth market for film products and especially disposable cameras offers West Coast retailers the chance to gain more category sales. In the case of Certified Grocers of California, Los Angeles, "This business has always been there because every kid on the beach has a disposable camera," said Millard Garnaas, senior nonfood buyer.
The buyer pointed out that retailers in other regions of the country can tap into the teen set with promotions and features run at different seasons and holidays through the year. "Teens have exploded the [single-use camera] business, and suppliers are just now realizing that's where it's coming from," Garnaas added.