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CATALOG & MAGAZINE PRINTING OUTLOOK -- Making Every Page Count

December 2005
BY MARK SMITH

Technology Editor

When it comes to physical format and production processes, catalogs and magazines have always been more alike than different. The introduction of the "magalog" concept extended the overlap to content and intent, albeit in a limited fashion. Now, as the industry looks forward to 2006, there are a lot of common threads in the business issues facing these two market sectors.

Postal rate increases obviously are a challenge for much of the printing industry, but these two sectors bear the brunt, along with direct mail. Paper issues—including pricing, availability and sustainable manufacturing—also cut equally across both sectors. Their customers have the same basic options when these costs rise—change paper weights, cut pages, and reduce the format size and trim quantities.

In the last couple of years, there's been a trend among the top magazine and catalog printers to launch major investment programs to optimize the efficiency of their production platforms. Standardizing equipment across operations is often part of such schemes to streamline manufacturing.

Also, similar questions are being asked about the ongoing relevance and role of these printed products in the digital age. With a growing percentage of purchases being executed online, marketers need to be kept aware of the role catalogs play in the decision-making process and how to maximize their effectiveness. Similarly, magazine advertisers are demanding more objective proof of the effectiveness of print ads as communication channels proliferate. Innovative measurement and tracking mechanisms are required to achieve both goals.

What will all this mean for the fortunes of catalog and publication printers in the new year? There's reason for optimism, particularly in the catalog sector, but success will take work.

Catalog Printers*
 CompanySegment
Sales
(millions)
Total
Sales
(millions)
1Quebecor World
Montreal
$1,056$6,600
2Quad/Graphics
 

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