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The Global Recession’s Impact on Print

December 23, 2009
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The global recession did a number on our industry, the effects of which we are only just beginning to see. Research conducted in 2006 for NPES’ sister organization, PRIMIR (Print Industries Market Information and Research organization), had originally forecast an 18% increase for the global graphic communications industry, from $610 billion in 2006 to $721 billion in 2011. Post-recession, PRIMIR’s updated data shows that the world print market is expected to grow by only half as much, 8%, between 2006 and 2011. According to the research, the global graphic communications industry will reach $725 billion by 2014—a full three years later than our forecasts had originally predicted.

While this may portend greater business challenges than first anticipated, our research also tells us that opportunities for growth and profit are available. We just need to know where to look.

The U.S. will retain its position as the world’s largest graphic communications market over the next four or five years. That’s welcome news, but it’s important to note that the U.S. print market will hold onto its No. 1 spot despite a 3% contraction between now and 2014. The U.S. printing industry was at $186 billion in 2009; it is expected to shrink to $180 billion by 2014.

Printers and their suppliers should therefore not only expect, but actively plan, to expand their business outside of the U.S. In particular, look to the developing countries of the East and South, where significant graphic communications growth is predicted between 2009 and 2014. Measured by regions, for example, growth is forecast to be on the order of 57% in Eastern Europe, 41% each in the Middle East and Latin America, and 21% in Asia—even after accounting for a 13% forecasted decline of Japan’s print market, currently the second largest in the world. The printing industries of North America, Western Europe and Australasia, by contrast, are predicted to decline between 2009 and 2014. (See pie chart, “World Print Market by Region, 2008 – 2014.”)

Consider the BRICs
If you haven’t already, consider the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China for business opportunities. Though their rates of growth will be slower than in the early part of the decade, these countries still stand out in the post-recession world as being among the fastest, and biggest, growing graphic communications industries in the next few years.

China, in particular, is expected to grow at an astronomical rate. Indeed, all the general signs of development are there: an increasing literacy rate (almost 91% in 2003, from 78% in 1990), a growing population (1.4 billion by 2014) and a gross domestic product that is predicted to nearly double between 2008 and 2014 (from $4.4 trillion in 2008 to almost $8.5 trillion by 2014). So it’s no surprise that China’s printing industry is forecast to increase from $57 billion in 2008 to $100 billion by 2014. If forecasts hold true, China will even overtake Japan in the next five years to become the second largest print market in the world.


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