PMA: It’s All About Women
Should you own a camera store, a print lab, or sell any digital photography accessories, it might be time to consider a name change. You are no longer a shop, a quick-stop, a drop-off, or a camera retailer. You are now an “imaging spa.” You are an environment where 30-something women sip chi, where preschoolers play with train tables, and where, if you’re lucky, you are luring women to lounge and linger while they create high-margin products like photobooks—Kodak calls them “the holy grail” of profitability—on touch screen kiosks.
That was one of the main messages at PMA ‘07, the Photo Marketing Association International’s annual digital imaging product convention, recently held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Over 20,000 attendees strolled the show floor, which featured the latest products and services from nearly 600 companies. Major camera-makers like Nikon and Canon unveiled multi-featured point-and-shoots, while software start-ups like DxO and Nik, looked to make a buck on Photoshop plug-ins. A couple years back, industry watchers at PMA, the world’s largest digital imaging trade organization, coined the concept name “Jennifer” to represent the most sought-after demographic in photo specialty retail. “Women started dominating camera sales in 2005,” said retailer Jessica Sarber, co-owner of Sarber’s Camera operations in Oakland and Berkeley, Calif., who said the phenomenon has led to “a quantum shift in this industry in terms of how we do business.”
The shift was evident on the showfloor. Previous PMA conventions featured high-end professional and enthusiast photo gear in monochromatic displays, from strobe lighting kits to row after row of titanium tripods. This year, booths were filled with the bright hues and what might have previously been considered peripheral gift items. Enormous Andy Warhol-style posters turned an average woman’s face into four panels reminiscent of the artist’s Marilyn Monroe’s or Campbell’s soup cans. Neon diaper bags sported baby’s image, as did purses, blankets, plush animals, jewelry boxes and keychains. The good news about selling such items is they generate margin, a welcome message for an industry that was shaken, retail-wise, by the film-to-digital transition.