The major requirement of the TAFE Marketing Management Diploma is that students form a business unit to conduct a marketing project on behalf of a private enterprise client. On completion of this module, students should be able to pan, organise, lead and control the activities necessary to complete a major group research project. They should present research findings, conclusions and recommendations and a strategic marketing plan in written form to professional industry standards. These research findings, conclusions, recommendations and strategic marketing plan are then presented at a public seminar.
Horizon 2000 approached PICA (Photo Imaging Council of Australia) earlier this year following a brief sent to TAFE from Paul Curtis, Executive Director, PICA. It was agreed that we undertake research, and from that research formulate a strategic marketing plan.
This presentation is the culmination of ten month’s work for our client, PICA and three year’s work as students of the Brookvale College of TAFE. We believe our recommendations will help our client to increase consumer demand for professional portrait photography and digital imaging technology.
“The Writing of Life”
Pica as the industry member association for photographic and imaging companies in Australia, is well positioned to promote professional photography as part of the Australian way of life and thus increase demand for this industry.
PICA issued Horizon 2000 with a brief to prepare a marketing plan to promote the use of professional photographers, and stimulate growth in the digital photo-imaging market.
Pica recommended that the following be included in the study.
Horizon 2000 should identify consumer groups who use professional photography including their attitudes, opinions and behaviour.
Establish the occasions for which consumers purchase professional photography including reasons why they don’t use professional photography.
Identify key influencing factors that drive the purchase decision.
And Investigate consumer reaction to the emerging digital technology.
The first step to achieve these goals is to conduct a situation analysis, which describes where the market is currently positioned.
In Australia there are over 6,000 professional photographers who offer their services to the public. Consumers hire photographers for special occasions such as weddings and family portraits. Photographers are used for other occasions including school, sports and glamour photography.
Digital technology, has taken amateur photography to a new level, the technology available to amateur photographers enables them to have more control over their images and manipulate them from a home computer. With this in mind, the environmental forces that could influence consumers’ decisions in regards to professional photography and digital imaging need to be addressed.
The professional photographers’ digital and consumer market is constantly changing with the introduction of digital photography.
Professional photographers may feel that there is no need or demand to adapt to this technology because the effect on their business is unknown and the fixed costs are high.
Lifecycle changes in the consumer market such as people delaying marriage and consumers purchasing their own specialised photographic equipment may lead to a decrease in the need for professional photographers.
However, it must be remembered that professional portrait photography plays a key role in recording a family’s history. With this in mind photographers are well positioned to utilise the new technology to increase demand.
Demographic & Cultural Environment
Since the Second World War Australia’s cultural pattern, that is the community’s lifestyles, social beliefs and values, have undergone quite dramatic changes.
Some of the changes include the immigration of new cultures, the changing role of women and increasing levels of education.
Increase in living standards and disposable income has focused attention on the quality of life and lifestyle. This has developed a demand for services that make life easier or convenient. Professional portrait photography is a convenient way to record milestones in people’s lives. Photography is important in recording events as it has the ability to generate memories associated with nostalgia and affection.
Economic & Technological Environment
Australia enjoys a relatively stable economic environment giving consumers a high standard of living and relatively high disposable incomes, allowing consumers the freedom to purchase special items, such as professional family portraits.
One of the most dramatic factors in the external environment is the rate of technological change. Increasing ownership in the home and usage at work of personal computers has opened up opportunities for consumers to develop their own photographs. However it must be remembered that consumers look for convenience, and developing their own photographs will most likely remain a novelty to most.
Consumers have easy access to disposable and instant cameras, low cost laboratory processing, and quick delivery of images.
Self-imaging is an accepted form of capturing the spontaneous and fleeting moments in consumers’ lives. Consumers have lower expectations for this type of photography being well aware that the resulting images are reliant on the available equipment and prevailing conditions.
For more formal and important milestones consumers will hire a professional photographer with the resultant expectation of better quality images for a higher price.
The reputation of photographers is important and can be undermined by less skilled or “weekend” operators who seek to supplement their weekly income by taking photographs for friends and associates.
This analysis is an overall evaluation of the portrait and wedding photography industry’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
The target market has been identified with both primary and secondary targets.
The primary target being females aged 25-39 years and the secondary target as parents with dependent and non-dependent children in the home.
Special occasions are events and memorable moments in people’s lives that are worth the expense of a professional photographer.
Horizon 2000 conducted extensive research in order to prepare a solution to these marketing strategies.
The marketing challenge was to investigate how PICA can promote consumer usage of Professional Photographers and especially photographers who offer digital imaging.
Therefore, the Research problem was to determine consumer attitudes and behavior in relation to the services marketing of professional photography such as product, distribution, price, promotion, people, processes and physical evidence.
To resolve the research problem, the 7 key aspects of service marketing have been put under the following headings:
Professional Photographers Consumer Profile, the Consumer Attitudes and their Purchasing Behavior. Horizon 2000 used Primary research methods such as In-depth Interviews with several Professional Photographers, Consumer Questionnaires and a Consumer Focus group.
To determine the total population of females aged between 25-39 yrs. The results showed that the potential for the target market is around 1.5 million Australia wide, with 40.1% of the total in Sydney alone.
Following this, Horizon 2000 looked at marriages in NSW from 1995 to 1999. Horizon 2000 found that the most popular months to get married were September to February and the most unpopular months were June to August. The research also revealed, the number of marriages in 1986 was 114,913, which decreased by 7.7% to 106,735 in 1997.
Professional Photographers In-Depth Interviews
The objective of the Professional Photographers In-depth interviews was to gain insights into photographer’s attitudes and perceptions of digital technology and consumer demand.
The key findings were that the use of conventional photography is still preferred over the use of digital technology and only a small number of photographers were actually offering it. The photographers said that the lack of demand by the consumer didn’t justify the use of the equipment.
The interviews also discovered that the wedding and portrait markets are the most profitable for them because it is a specialised area and that the introduction of the GST will decrease the cost of the equipment, but saying that, it will increase the service costs to the consumer.
Following the In-depth Interviews Horizon 2000 conducted a consumer questionnaire.
The objective of the questionnaire was to create a Professional Photographers profile of the consumer and to determine their purchasing behavior.
Horizon 2000s findings indicated that consumers uses and usage’s of the Professional Photographers are mostly for weddings (43.3%) followed by family portraits (23%), school (9.3%) and glamour (7.7%). The research reveals that there is a consumer market for professional photography that centres on special events in people’s lives.
The results indicate that consumers should be reminded of the value and benefit of using Professional Photographers and any advertising should prompt consumers to increase their usage and use occasions. Professional photography serves the purpose of recording memorable and historical moments.
When researching the attitudes of the consumer, Horizon 2000 revealed that the consumers have 3 key areas that affect their purchase decision: trust and/ or confidence, price and convenience.
Research shows that the highest source of business comes from referrals, word-of-mouth recommendations and testimonials and the second highest is from a reliable reference source such as the yellow pages. This provides PICA with an opportunity to fill the gap in the market place as the trusted and convenient source for the Professional Photographers.
Research revealed that 83% of the sample respondents were not offered digital imaging when they hired their Professional Photographer. It was also revealed that those who purchased digital images, 91.3% were satisfied with the results.
These findings show that there is market for digital imaging for consumers. This opens up an opportunity for PICA to encourage Professional Photographers to incorporate digital technology into their businesses.
When researching the effective means of promotion by the Professional Photographers our research found that 58.3% of respondents were not offered any incentive and 41.7% were offered incentives. Those who were offered incentives only 35.2% of the respondents said that it influenced their decision to hire the photographer.
This would indicate that promotion and incentives are most likely a secondary influencing factor. This reveals an opportunity for PICA to encourage photographers to actively participate in PICA’s marketing plan by running sales incentives during strategic stages of their action plan.
Consumer Focus Group
The objective of the consumer focus group was to verify the findings of the primary research and to gain insight into peoples emotional connection, if any towards professional photographers.
The focus group was conducted with eight respondents varying from ages 17-36 years.
Some of the key findings are:
* Photographs are an emotional an essential connection with peoples past treasured moments.
* A picture tells a thousand words.
* The decision making process is due to speed, enthusiasm, price, reputation and guarantee.
* Pricing is a strong indicator of the final quality.
* Occasion usage is for traditional avenues of weddings, family and individual portraits.
* Incentives of interest are discounts on photos, framing options and bonus photographs.
The research findings indicated that Horizon 2000 had to develop a marketing plan that would make PICA the essential reference source for the Professional Photographers from a consumer perspective.
The marketing strategies applied recommend communication efforts too increase consumer confidence in hiring Professional Photographers and to promote different uses, user groups and usage occasion.
From the research findings and client objectives, Horizon 2000 developed PICA’s marketing objective.
The marketing objective is to increase consumer demand for professional photographic services, and raise awareness of the benefits of digital technology services for consumer portrait photography.
From this objective Horizon developed marketing strategies designed to capture the attention of the target markets and stimulate demand within the photographic industry.
Each strategy seeks to optimise PICA’s current resources as well as make recommendations for potential increases in resources.
APPD (Australian Professional Photographer’s Directory)
The APPD is a locality guide, which provides details of all the services offered by photographers giving ease to the consumer when in need for a professional photographer.
It will encompass details such as specialties, company profiles and symbols to make the directory user-friendly. It is a simple vehicle with which to promote and adapt to different markets.
Its objectives are to:
It is recommended that distribution be through Gordon & Gotch who will then distribute the directory to newsagents, petrol stations and convenience stores. Gordon & Gotch’s sales & research reports will help PICA to identify ways in which to encourage new users and increase usage of professional photographic services.
The profit from the sales of the directory is estimated at $210,782, which is to be applied to all other advertising and promotion efforts.
The Objectives of the Consumer Exhibition are to:
With its annual photographic exhibition, PICA has an opportunity to promote consumer portrait photography by developing a display and information stand targeted at consumers. The stand should focus primarily on the target market and seek to inform and educate them on the benefits of professional portrait photography and digital technology.
PICA should continue with its existing seminars at the annual Darling Harbour exhibition, and expand this service with additional seminars and exhibition stands, to inform photographers of the benefits of digital technology. This recommendation would require the preparation of an annual calendar of events.
Advertising & Promotion
The objectives of advertising and promotions are to:
Horizon 2000 recommends PICA implement a 2-stage radio campaign to:
It is important PICA send Media releases to relevant media to encourage free publicity, containing regular information of interest to consumers and photographers.
The Media Press Release Vehicles listed focus on maximising traditional media coverage with PICA’s given resources:
This will create a broader exposure to the target audience who regularly commutes to work.
Horizon 2000 recommend to use bus advertising as it offers specific geographic coverage, which involves bold, simple advertising of long staying power, which will also support radio advertising.
Below-The-Line Advertising, Photographic Sleeve
The objective here is to create awareness of the PICA web site and the Directory amongst consumers who take their own photos, and encourage the use of professional photographer services.
This below-the-line advertising is recommended through alliances with one of its members such as Kodak or Fuji. The Advertising should encompass the PICA web site and Directory on the tear-off section of a photograph sleeve in which you send the used film for developing.
It is important for PICA to understand that until consumer-based professional portrait photographers fully embrace digital technology into their services and method of operation.
PICA will find it difficult to promote the benefits of digital technology to the target market through advertising, marketing and promotion campaigns.
To assist with this point it is recommended that PICA hold Professional Photographers’ Seminars.
Professional Photographer’s Seminars
PICA should conduct a full day of seminars to provide an update on the latest developments in digital technology in addition to the Darling Harbour Exhibition and Seminars currently held. Allowing a hands-on approach to new technologies enabling photographers to trial new products.
The seminar could also inform professional photographers about consumers’ increasing awareness of digital technology.
This will hopefully establish PICA as a source of information to the photographic industry, and promote and encourage subscriptions to the Directory.
It will also aim to encourage professional portrait photographers to use digital imaging in their businesses, and keep them aware of the latest technological developments.
Bi-Monthly Photographers’ Newsletter
Promote PICA in the minds of the Professional Photographers.
Update new developments in industry and inform Professional Photographers of forth coming events, through the media schedule to give them the opportunity to run their own promotions.
It will also allow PICA the chance to obtain feedback from subscriber photographers after each stage of the campaign.
It is recommended that the newsletter should be issued in alternate months to give PICA enough relevant information to distribute with each issue, e.g. the next stage in their marketing campaign.
There is also the opportunity to include feedback forms asking photographers about the level of consumer response that they receive which can be used for future research.
Digital Portrait Contest
To help with Digital Technology, it is recommended that PICA hold a Digital Portrait Contest with the objective to:
Increase consumer demand for digital portrait photography, by targeting both consumers and professional portrait photographers.
The idea is that a professional photographer will take consumer portraits, using a digital camera and submit for judging.
Photographers then enter the photographs in the contest for themselves and on behalf of the consumer.
Notices on the competition should be issued via mail outs in the bi-monthly newsletter, and entry lodgment will be through co-sponsor stores.
Advertising & Promotion of the contest will be helped through magazines & point-of-sale displays to stimulate demand for, professional photographers in the wedding and portrait market and digital portrait photography, in addition, create awareness of PICA.
A media schedule for July, August and September is selected for its ability to stimulate demand for:
Posters should be placed in the co-sponsor stores (19 outlets) to attract interest and act as a focus for the magazine campaign.
Evaluation & Control
It is important the marketing plan be evaluated and controlled by checking the following:
Feedback from Subscribed Professional Photographers via the bi-monthly newsletter to assess the level of consumer response, the use and awareness if digital technology, and to what extent PICA’s efforts influenced their decision.
Sales of Directory through Gordon & Gotch sales reports to measure the level of consumer response, and also assess the best distribution channels to help future targeting and promotions plans.
Measuring Contest Entries and the geographical spread.
The future Recommendations for PICA to help increase consumer awareness and use of professional photographic services are as follows:
Consider expanding the Directory into the Melbourne market, which would increase the potential market to over one million.
PICA should consider developing their Web Site to include features such as E-commerce and daily updates and maintenance rather than monthly.
PICA should place its display stand at the Darling Harbour Bridal Exhibition with the potential of attendance at other bridal fairs in the metropolitan area.
To enter other market segments PICA may consider positioning the PICA stand at home and lifestyle exhibitions to promote and establish regular presence as a reliable reference point for information on professional photographers.
Horizon 2000, Marketing Strategies, Brookvale College of TAFE