Printing at retail wins adherents.
According to Photo Marketing Association surveys, 35.7% of all prints made from digital images in the 12-month period ended October 2007 were printed at home.
That compares with 23.5% that were made with minilabs, 14.7% made with in-store kiosks, and 11% ordered online and picked up at a retail store.
But at-home printing is growing more slowly than the various retail-oriented options. For the year ended October 2007, the number of prints made with a home printer increased just 8% over the preceding year. That compares with a 24% increase in the number of prints made by a retail minilab, and a 31% increase in the number made using a self-service kiosk.
One reason for the slower growth in homemade prints may be that they typically cost more than store-made prints, once the costs of paper and ink-jet printer cartridges are factored in.
Some companies see those costs as an opportunity, however.
TonerHead Inc., for example, has developed a retail ink cartridge refilling system called INK-O-DEM, which has now been rolled out to numerous retail stores, including about 3,000 Walgreen Co. locations.
"The public has taken to the idea very well," says William Mepropulos, vice president of sales at TonerHead. "The system offers consumers a significant cost savings, as well as the ability to keep all those spent plastic cartridges out of a landfill."
For retailers, meanwhile, the system offers a profitable business opportunity and a way to build store traffic.
The INK-O-DEM system is able to refill 95% of the cartridges currently on the market, the company says. The system pretests for electrical malfunctions, evacuates old ink, flushes and cleans the printhead, replenishes the ink supply and, finally, performs a print test.
Eastman Kodak Co., meanwhile, last year shook up the ink-jet printer category by introducing a line of printers with less expensive replacement cartridges.
"Growing demand for Kodak's ink-jet printers validates our reasons for entering the category--consumers are looking for high-quality, affordable solutions to home ink-jet printing," states Kodak president and chief operating officer Phil Faraci.
Kodak's entrance into the well-established $50 billion ink-jet market in February 2007 was recently highlighted in a September report by global research firm Current Analysis, which said that "in the span of six months Kodak has proven that it can win over some of the biggest names in retail, now including Wal-Mart. With the addition of major retailers across the globe Kodak is raising the stakes ... and remaining a market leader for low cost per print."
With replacement ink car tridges priced at just $9.99 for black and $14.99 for color, Kodak Easyshare AiO printers can save consumers up to 50% more than similar consumer ink-jet printers, the company maintains.
Onetime-Use DOLLAR SALES UNIT VOLUME Cameras $322.9 mil. 45 mil. (-25.1%) * (-24.5%) * For 52 weeks Percent Change Percent Change Ending 12/2/07 vs. vs. Prior 12 Months Prior 12 Months Supermarkets Supermarkets -31% -31.5% Drug Stores Drug Stores -20.2% -17.9% Dollar Unit Top Brands Sales ** Volume *** 1. Kodak Max Flash $82.0 mil. 9.6 mil. 2. Kodak Fun Saver 46.7 mil. 7.8 mil. 3. Fuji QuickSnap Flash 43.0 mil. 6.5 mil. 4. Kodak 21.3 mil. 1.9 mil. 5. Kodak Max HQ 12.9 mil. 1.2 mil. 6. Kodak Max Sport 8.7 mil. 0.7 mil. 7. Kodak Plus Digital 6.8 mil. 0.5 mil. 8. Fuji QuickSnap 5.5 mil. 1.0 mil. 9. Fuji QuickSnap Wtprt. 4.3 mil. 0.5 mil. 10. Kodak Power Flash 2.1 mil. 0.2 mil. * Total of supermarkets, drug stores and discount stores excluding Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ** All private label brands combined total $83.1 mil. *** All private label brands combined total 14.1 mil. Source: Information Resources Inc.