PMA — November/December 2010
Change Language:
Gen Y
Kristy Clirmont

A preview of tomorrows photo customer.

Members of Generation Y, defined here as those between the ages of 18 and 32, are different from the older generations in a multitude of ways. They have grown up with rapidly advancing technology and in a world where “photography” means something completely different than it did in the analog days. The crop of next-generation photographers, however, uses cameras differently today than even five years ago, especially with the emergence of camera phones. As a result, the photographic behavior of Generation Y will certainly differ from the population as a whole when it comes to image capture, postcapture activity, and printing.

Generation Y members are most likely to own digital cameras, and they take far more pictures than the general population. On average, U.S. households took an average of 390 pictures with their digital cameras in 2009, compared to 576 pictures for Generation Y picture takers – almost a 50 percent increase. Generation Y members are also more likely to make paper prints, including photo cards, than the U.S. population as a whole. Sixty-seven percent of Generation Y households made paper prints or cards in 2009, compared to 61 percent of U.S. households overall. Parenthood and gender, however, are more likely to determine a consumer’s photo-printing activity than generation. These factors indicate Generation Y members will not be taking fewer pictures than Generation X members do today when they reach the same age. The mix of print formats, however, will continue to shift away from 4-by-6-inch prints, in favor of custom formats and photo books in the future. Subjects will also change as this group becomes parents. Taking pictures of friends at parties will be traded for pictures of children and school-related events.

Reasons cited for taking pictures differ among the Generation Y segment when compared to the overall population. The most striking, but not surprising, difference is Generation Y is about twice as likely to use social networking sites, such as Facebook, as a means for sharing photos. Thirty percent of U.S households do so, compared to 57 percent of Generation Y households – nearly a twofold increase. Generation Y is also more likely to say they take pictures just because they like taking photographs or because they use it as an artistic expression. These Generation Y members especially may become part of the advanced amateur segment, and focusing on this market could provide lucrative opportunities for the industry.Also, Generation Y is more likely to take photos to use for gifting purposes.

In terms of storing the photos they take, it is again not surprising Generation Y is more than twice as likely to use online social networking sites as a means of storage.Seventeen percent of U.S. households use this storage option, but Generation Y more than doubles this with 40 percent.The younger generation is more likely to look to the hard drive than the rest of the population, whether it is the computer hard drive or the external hard drive. They are also more likely to leave the images on the memory card and consider it a means of storage. Cds and USB flash drives are distinctively more popular among Generation Y households, as are photo books, scrapbooks, and camera phones.In a nutshell, Generation Y appears to be more up to speed when it comes to storing the pictures they take. There is not one single method that is more popular among the overall population than it is among Generation Y members specifically.

Households typically save, store, or keep more than three-quarters of the photos they take. Generation Y households, however, save even more. They save 81 percent of the images they take compared to 77 percent for The population as a whole. U.S. households that made paper prints printed an average of 36 percent of the digital images they saved, stored, or kept. This remained almost identical (37 percent) for the Generation Y segment. Three prints per image was the Consensus for both Generation Y and for the overall population of printers. According to the 2009 PMA Youth Digital Camera Usage Report, sharing is a digital process for Generation Y males while only partly a digital process for Generation Y females, who still value printed photos and albums.Not surprisingly, Generation Y is less likely to use the home computer printer and the photo printer specifically made for a digital camera when printing digital images. These young people are more likely to use the digital self-service kiosk at the store for making prints or online photo services, whether receiving prints via mail or picking them up at a retail location.

The Generation Y segment of the population is more likely to have heard about or seen anything having to do with photo books than the population as a whole – not shocking since photo books are more of a recent phenomenon that popped up as digital evolved. While 41 percent of U.S. households overall claim they have heard about or seen photo books, 53 percent of Generation Y state the same. Nineteen percent of the Generation Y population actually made photo books in 2009, compared to just 13 percent of U.S. households overall. Photo books are potential alternatives to albums and framed prints among members of the new generation.

Generation Y, however, starts and completes fewer books than the typical U. S. photo book household. Overall, photo book-making households in 2009 started an average of 2.5 books, whereas Generation Y only started 2.1 books. Completion rates are also lower among Generation Y photo book makers, as they completed an average of 1.9 books, compared to an average of 2.4 books completed among U.S. households overall.

The most prominent reason given for not completing photo books is the intention to Finish at a later time, and there is not much of a generational difference present here.Generation Y photo book makers are much more likely than the overall population to cite “takes too long” as a reason for not completing books that were started in 2009, hence the reason they tend to complete fewer books. Simple, efficient methods for photo book creation should be a top priority for retailers and online photo sites to urge this segment to finish the photo books they start. Surprisingly, a reason given by Generation Y is not having enough pictures to complete the book. U.S. households in general are more likely than Generation Y to say they did not have the pictures they wanted to complete the book or that it is too costly. For the most part, there is not much generational difference when it comes to satisfaction of the photo book creation process.

The most cited reason for creating a photo book is for a family keepsake. Generation Y is just as likely as the overall population to make books for this reason. Another prominent reason mentioned for making photo books is to give as a gift to family, and this is even more pronounced among Generation Y book makers. Overall, 30 percent of U.S. households made photo books as a method to share pictures with others, but only 24 percent of Generation Y made books for this reason. Perhaps this is due to Generation Y turning to social network sites for many of their photo sharing needs.

The majority of households claim the number of standard 4-by-6-inch prints they made in 2009 remained the same as a result of making photo books, and this is not influenced much by generation. In terms of photo book types, Generation Y members are less likely to make small 4-by-6-inch or 5-by-7-inch books. This style book is typically used for quick, simple sharing, and again, Generation Y tends to favor the convenience of online sharing methods more than the overall population.Generation Y members are more likely to make standard 8-by-11-inch books, perfect for gifting.

Generation Y households are more likely to own camera phones than the overall population, and they typically own more Units. Overall, U.S. households own an average of 2.0 units, compared to 2.3 units for Generation Y households. Younger households are also more likely to have used the camera phone for taking pictures in 2009, compared to their older counterparts.Ninety-three percent of Generation Y camera phone owners used the camera phone to take pictures last year, compared to 85 percent of camera phone owners overall.Resolutions of camera phones owned are not significantly impacted by generation.Generation Y members are more likely to make prints from camera phone images; however, the number of prints made does not differ significantly by generation.

Reasons for using the camera phone to take pictures differed slightly between the overall population and the Generation Y segment. The younger generation is more likely to say the occasion was not important enough to bring the regular digital camera, they did not have their digital camera with Them at the time, they wanted to send the picture to someone or upload it on a website or blog quickly, or they wanted to have the picture on their camera phone so they could have it wherever they go. Generation Y is less likely than the overall population to say they took pictures with the camera phone because they wanted to try it just for fun.This makes sense, as some older people may be still getting accustomed to the fact their cell phones are even able to take pictures.

The industry must be mindful not to overlook any of these shifts in behavior that would signal a turn in demands of the consumer of the future. Even if Generation Y is less interested in the photographic products and services of today than Generation X, spending on those products and services could be maintained as Generation Y is larger than Generation X. The key is to emphasize the proper mix of products and services that appeal to this new generation of photographers.