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Camera accessory market growing rapidly

22 March 2007

Last year across Western Europe and the USA, the value of the camera accessories after-market increased by a healthy 35%, and will continue to grow in the short term despite price erosion, according to a new industry report by Understanding & Solutions. “Although we’re actually seeing a slowdown in the number of digital cameras being sold across Western Europe and the States, with 8% growth last year and a projected 2% decline in 2007,” said David Watkins, research analyst with Understanding & Solutions, “camera vendors’ and retailers’ future profits will be bolstered by targeting the accessories market,” writes Fergal Ringrose.

The report, which focuses on the top five camera accessories; namely (in rank order of value) lenses, bags, flashguns, supports and dedicated camera batteries; shows that digital-SLR cameras are driving most of the growth within the market, with an average of $260 spent on accessories for each digital-SLR in use, in contrast to just $2.38 for each digital compact camera. Digital-SLR accessories accounted for more than 80% of total accessory revenue in 2006, which will rise to over 90% by 2011.

“In trade value terms, the total accessories after-market last year was worth $1.7bn in Western Europe and the USA combined,” said Watkins, “and we expect the market to peak in 2008 in the USA at $1bn (€800m) and 2009 in Western Europe at $1.3bn. The lens segment is taking a leading role in the boom – accounting for $878m last year, up from $600m in 2005. Moving forward, we expect lenses to remain the most lucrative product segment, accounting for nearly 60% of the total after-market value by 2011.”

Camera bags are also in demand, with 22m shipped across Western Europe and the USA last year, representing nearly 30% of the total accessory market. The less profitable compact camera pouch market accounted for more than 80% of bag sales, yet digital-SLR bags experienced volume growth of more than 50%, reflecting growth in the hardware business, due to falling prices, and the necessity of a protective case for these high value products and accompanying accessories.

The camera-dedicated battery market across Western Europe and the USA grew 8% in terms of volume in 2006, mirroring the digital camera market, to reach 47 million units. This is due to most cameras being hard bundled with a battery, and one battery being sufficient for the majority of users.

In 2006 flashgun shipments topped the million mark, with 1.1 million shipped across Western Europe and the USA, and a total after-market trade value of $185m. Early adopters have helped to drive initial growth in the market as high prices kept this a niche product. However, prices are falling, which, combined with an ever-increasing installed base of digital-SLR cameras, will continue to drive growth until 2008.

Tripods and monopods have traditionally been seen as the reserve of the professional and high-end enthusiast digital-SLR user; yet aggressively priced retailer own-branded products are now driving sales to a wider user base. Over one million digital camera supports were shipped in Western Europe and the USA in 2006 representing growth of 52% from 2005. Research by Understanding & Solutions shows that the market will expand further over the coming years, peaking in 2009 at 1.6 million units.

More than 90% of high-end accessory products, including lenses, flashguns and supports, are sold through photographic specialists such as Jessops and Warehouseexpress.com in the UK, Ringfoto in Germany, Phox in France and Calumet in the USA. Historically, consumers purchasing such high value products have demanded professional advice and after-sales support, and it is only through specialist channels that such support is currently available.

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