10 Jul 2015 Regional Specialisation In The Microstock Market
Regional specialisation has always worked well in traditional stock photography. But not in microstock. The lower margins have made it less worthwhile to restrict the market so drastically, so this kind of specialisation never had much success in microstock.
Obstacles For Microstock
In microstock, the market is dominated by a handful of big agencies each with a strong global presence. They deliver imagery from and in all regions of the map, reaching a much larger number of customers than regionally specialised ones, even in those regions.
This makes the big, general agencies more profitable for contributors than regional specialists. As it’s a two-sided market, regional specialists need to attract local contributors or they won’t get traction.
In the traditional market the higher margins make it easier to justify employing sales people with specialist knowledge of the region and its cultures, providing significant value to customers that generalist agencies can’t compete with. The low margins of microstock make such investments extremely difficult.
Markets Where Regional Specialisation Could Work
If there’s a context were regional specialisation can be successful in microstock, it’s regions where differences with bigger markets are more notable, like the Middle East and Asia.
These are not only geographically rich, varied and distinct regions, but more importantly are regions where culture and social values are very different to those of the larger markets of North America and Europe. These cultures are also very sensitive to their particular vision and concepts of gender, sexuality and religion.
If an agency can provide imagery that fits that perspective and precisely address those sensitive issues, they have a chance of making regional specialisation with the microstock business model successful.
There are currently some regional themed players in microstock. Agencies like Fotoarabia and Meashots in the Middle East, and production companies like Dragon Images in Asia are among the first movers supplying imagery to these regional markets. It’s an interesting space to watch.