Many pundits assume that gen Z consumers are not that interested in traditional photo activities, such as ordering prints and custom photo merchandise. After all, they were born into a world of digital cameras, social networks and omnipresent screens.
However, a recent Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends study indicates that this group of more than 73 million people, born between 1998 and 2010, is actively engaged in photography. Moreover, the study suggests that gen Z is worthy of imaging vendors’ marketing attention.
The study, Gen Z to Boomers: Segmenting High-Spending Personas for Increased Share of Wallet, was fielded in summer 2018. It compares photo behaviors and attitudes across four generations: gen Z, millennials, gen X and baby boomers. In addition, it identifies spending habits and buying preferences for several product categories. The survey panel included approximately 1,500 gen Z respondents.
Gen Z Camera Ownership & Photo Skills
According to the study, although 80% of gen Z respondents said that a smartphone is their primary camera, more than 60% said they either own or use a digital camera. This includes cameras that are available to them from another member of their household.
Figure 1: Cameras Owned or Used by Gen Z Consumers
“Not surprisingly, about 45% of the gen Z panel considers themselves to be a snapshot photographer. Or one who takes photos for the fun of the moment,” the research firm asserted. “This was nearly 10 percentage points higher than any other generation, who are more likely to be taking photos to record family memories.
“Even so, more than 15% of gen Z said they are hobbyist or advanced hobbyist photographers, who are more interested in photography than simply taking pictures and have some level of understanding of camera settings beyond auto.”
Despite declining sales, consumers still see digital cameras in their future. The survey reveals 55% of the gen Z population said they want to own a digital camera in the future. This was regardless of whether or not they currently own or use a digital camera.
“It is no secret that many gen Z consumers spend a significant portion of their lives on social media. And nearly 83% of them share photos there,” InfoTrends added. Most of the gen Z respondents use Instagram and Snapchat; however, older respondents are more likely to be sharing photos on Facebook.
Other InfoTrends research shows that while younger consumers are shifting away from Facebook, most have not completely abandoned it. They still use Facebook to share photos with (older) family members who are still frequent users.
Photo Print Trends
In addition, more than one in five survey respondents—including 19% of gen Z—said they share photos in the form of prints. In fact, 41% of gen Z responded they had purchased photo prints at a retail store, online or via mobile app in the previous year.
While this percentage was lower than that of millennials (who have more available income and are more likely to have children), InfoTrends found it is about the same as gen X and considerably higher than baby boomers.
Notably, about the same percentage of gen Z said they had purchased custom photo products in the previous year.
Figure 2: Gen Z Purchases of Custom Photo Products
Furthermore, although online and mobile ordering continues to grow, retailers are still an important part of the mix for gen Z photo output buyers. More than two-thirds of those who had purchased photo prints said they had done so in a retail store.
The same also was true for about 60% of those who had purchased custom photo products. “Obviously, that mix will vary by products that can be produced in a store (such as photo cards and some calendars and books) versus those that require a more specialized production facility (such as wood and metal prints),” noted InfoTrends.
Disposable Income a Factor
The InfoTrends study also identifies segments within each generation with higher levels of disposable income. As might be expected, they are more likely to own better cameras. They are also more inclined to purchase photo prints and custom photo products.
Compared to their lower-spending counterparts, higher-spending gen Z respondents are more photo-active. For example, they are more likely to be taking photos of family memories. And more likely to have a better understanding of their camera and its controls. InfoTrends concluded: “Gen Z consumers are important for this industry. It is important to understand where and how they are spending their time and money, as well as the media (social and otherwise) that influences their buying decisions.
“The photography interests and habits they develop now can stay with them as they grow up, enter new life stages that trigger the desire and need for a camera, and have more family events of their own to record and preserve.”