EDITOR’S notebook

What Print Buyers Buy. . .And How They Buy It

That, essentially, is the title of a new report published recently by the Printing Industries of Michigan (PIM) at the request of Ford Motor Co.’s global service purchasing department. Surveys were sent out to hundreds of print buyers throughout the United States, representing companies involved in the automotive, service, agriculture and publishing industries, as well as advertising agencies, universities, healthcare and general consumer products firms. The results, presented in a quick-read (mostly charts and graphs) format, provide some interesting and thought-provoking data on the makeup, qualifications and expectations among today’s print buyers. Let’s take a closer look.

Nearly two out of three (64 percent) of the print buyer respondents work in advertising or communications. And most have additional responsibilities at their companies other than buying print; in fact, almost 50 percent of them spend less that one-third of their time buying print. These include such functions as production/project management, creative services and general purchasing.

They’re not “dumb bunnies,” either. In fact, more than half of the respondents have college degrees, 9 percent possess advanced or post-graduate degrees, and almost 25 percent have attended some college. A mere 4 percent have only a high school diploma. But, since print buying requires specialized training, the majority learn their trade from on-the-job training (see charts below). Also, their involvement with all aspects of a print job is high, including the initial budgeting process, scheduling and distribution.

When it comes to traditional offset color printing, a healthy 59 percent of the respondents indicate that less than one-third of their color print buys are based just on the printer achieving “pleasing color.” Instead, about two-thirds (64 percent) say that at least 80 percent of their color printing requires critical color matching, with 38 percent reporting that virtually all of their color work needs critical color matching.

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