Feature Article - May/June 2009

Picture Perfect

Digital Cameras to Inspire Performance

By Emily Tipping


t the turn of the century, just 9 percent of U.S. households owned digital cameras, according to the PMA Camera/Camcorder Digital Imaging Surveys. But in the past nine years, the technology has grown by leaps and bounds, and the ease of use, the convenience and the wide variety of technologies that have made digital cameras ever more ubiquitous have led to a growing number of households using digital cameras not only for the traditional photographs in an album, but for sharing photos online and through social networking sites, for a creative outlet, and, yes, for recording those not-to-be-forgotten moments. Now, digital cameras can be found in the majority of U.S. households.

"Digital cameras are becoming increasingly pervasive, enjoying a 77 percent household penetration rate, not to mention other popular consumer electronics devices such as cell phones that are capable of taking digital photographs," said Chris Ely, CEA senior research analyst. "President Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to have his official portrait taken with a digital camera, showing how pervasive digital photography has become."

But just because everyone now seems to have a digital camera, that doesn't mean the demand for newer and better cameras will die out. To the contrary, as manufacturers introduce new features, styles and colors that constantly raise the bar for various market segments, consumers are looking to upgrade—from an entry-level point-and-shoot to a sleeker, more stylish and more feature-laden point-and-shoot; or from one of these to a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera for those looking to take the next step. And like any merchandise category that you use to motivate and inspire your workforce, salesforce, channel partners and customers, staying on top of the latest trends is critical, as is knowing what drives consumers in their selection of digital cameras.

"It's a beautiful piece with high perceived value," said Joseph Romeo, Corporate Gifts and Incentives sales rep for Canon U.S.A. Inc. "Just because you're giving a camera gift doesn't mean you're breaking the bank. When somebody gets it, it's a good product, and should be a good brand. Everyone needs a camera, and it will keep capturing memories for them for a long time to come."

Romeo added that digital cameras see a lot of repeat buyers, with people wanting to take advantage of the latest technological advances, the new sleek designs and an ever-expanding array of features.

"Digital camera manufacturers are constantly adding new features in efforts to differentiate themselves from their competitors," said Larry Wu, senior director of the technology practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, in adding new features, ease of use becomes critical in maintaining satisfaction." He explained that customers who found features difficult to use were far less satisfied than those who said the features were easy to use.

"Designing features with the consumer in mind and providing clear and concise instructions can help maintain high satisfaction levels with new features and functions," Wu added.

And new features, new functions, new styles and colors galore have come to the forefront of digital camera technology, which means that if you select a variety of cameras for your program, you'll be sure to reach every audience you're aiming to inspire.