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Single-Use Camera Star of Film Segment.

NEW YORK--The single-use camera continues to be the star in a film segment that, overall, is not growing. Year after year disposable cameras turn in double-digit sales growth that is fueled by a number of factors, nearly all of which ultimately relate to manufacturers' ability to adapt them quickly to improved technology and changing consumer trends.

According to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), single-use cameras chalked up a 17.1% gain in dollar sales during the 52 weeks ended June 18. The hottest performer in terms of percentage sales growth was Polaroid Corp.'s Pop Shots disposable instant camera, which generated $15.1 million, a whopping 335% gain. Next was Eastman Kodak Co.'s top-ranked Kodak Max single-use camera line, which skyrocketed nearly 282% to claim 36% of the market with revenues of $284.9 million.

The performance of the Kodak Max line, which contains 400 and 800 speed film, reflects the growing popularity of the current generation of higher-speed print films, which deliver excellent image quality in addition to flexibility and convenience, not to mention higher margins.

While a significant portion of the success of the Kodak Max line came at the expense of other Kodak single-use models, including the Fun Saver, Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. Inc. has continued to show solid double-digit growth with its QuickSnap line of single-use cameras incorporating both 35 mm and 24 mm (Advanced Photo System) film. The supplier markets models specifically designed for use under water or in the snow, for weddings and parties, and even to help golfers improve their swings.

In fact, much of the popularity of the single-use camera stems from the remarkable skill suppliers have shown in adapting the products to fast-changing consumer trends. Keystone Camera Corp., which recently was recognized by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as a "supplier of excellence," underlined the importance of this kind of flexibility earlier this year by establishing a division dedicated to the design, packaging, marketing and sales of customized single-use cameras to supply accounts that require custom printed products on short lead times.

According to Urs Stampfli, director of global sales and marketing, the division was set up in response to consumer requests for limited-run, high-quality, customized single-use cameras. "Single-use cameras by definition are event driven," he says. "With this value-added service, we ultimately empower consumers to personalize their single-use cameras."

Kodak, which recreated itself as a trend-driven marketer under now retired chief executive officer George Fisher, recently demonstrated its trend awareness by introducing the Kodak Advantix Access, which claims the title of the world's lightest-weight single-use camera. According to Eric Lent, director of marketing for onetime-use cameras, the Access is designed to fit the lifestyles of people--particularly those in their 20s--who are accustomed to carrying cellular phones, pagers, and personal digital assistants and who are used to having digital information at their fingertips.

Although photography is in a state of transformation, the ongoing popularity of the humble single-use camera--an item that generally sells for $7 to $15--seems assured as it continues to deliver quality and convenience in a multitude of clever guises.


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Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 21, 2000
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