Amid all the upheaval and uncertainty from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some product segments have continued to sell well and in some cases are doing better than before the pandemic. Besides the obvious face masks, hand sanitizers and alcohol, other product areas including photo products are experiencing strong sales and should close out the year on a positive note.
The reasons for photo product sales success are quite simple. Consumers have more time at home to work on projects like photo books, calendars, or wall decor, and photo products provide a lot of value for the cost. In a recent interview with Rise Above Research, RPI Print CEO Rick Bellamy was bullish about the prognosis for photo product sales in the fourth quarter. “My personal belief is that we’re going to see a really strong Holiday season in the B2C market,” he said. “When there’s economic uncertainty, it turns out that photo products tend to be phenomenal gifts that create an emotional connection that is relatively inexpensive.”
The sentimentality of photo products is helping to drive sales during a time when we can’t see friends and family in person. Creating photo products and giving them as gifts help us to reconnect on a deeper level with those we care about and haven’t been able to see as much. A CEO of a popular online photo product vendor told us that photo calendars are a “hot” product in the fourth quarter, which is a good case in point. Photo calendars have been around for decades and always performed steadily but weren’t showing any growth in the recent past until this year.
Of course, COVID-19 is still having an impact on the photo product market. As cases have risen across the country, some vendors are finding that it’s becoming more difficult to have orders fulfilled, as print providers have lost employees who are out sick with the virus. It may be easy to backfill a position that involves packing boxes but losing someone who runs a digital press or has experience assembling canvas prints is more of a problem. Delays in package deliveries for online orders (which are also up significantly because of the virus) is also an ongoing issue.
We’ll know in about two weeks how the fourth quarter and 2020 end up for photo product vendors, but we should all start thinking about 2021 and how to maintain the momentum that was built during the pandemic. Beefing up an online presence and website functionality is one key for the future, as the virus accelerated the shift from in-store to online ordering that is not likely to change back to the way it was. Marketing efforts should also focus on the sentimental and emotional value of photo products and how to keep customers buying even after things return more to normal.