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New Opportunities Through Integration of Print and Digital Media

December 23, 2011
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With the advent of digital media, increasing numbers of print buyers and print service providers are asking themselves what the future of print will be. For Bernhard Schreier, president of Drupa 2012 and chairman of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, the answer is clear: Despite complex conditions and regional differences, the merging of print and online media, functional printing and smart technologies in security and packaging print is opening up new perspectives that can be turned into profitable opportunities.

Q—Mr. Schreier, since the last Drupa the printing industry has been experiencing tough times, especially in the Western industrial countries. In addition to the difficult economic conditions, digital media is increasingly in direct competition with traditional print products. Is the Gutenberg era coming to an end?

Schreier—Not at all. Even today, more than 500 years after the invention of book printing, our industry still has enormous potential. That said, the environment has changed dramatically over the past few years. The economic crisis two years ago, and the current unstable situation in the Eurozone, have caused a significant change in the market that will continue.

The printing market in Western industrial countries has largely stagnated at a high level. At the same time, emerging countries and the Asian markets are experiencing high growth rates. Take a look at the Chinese print market, which alone in 2009 achieved around 42 billion euros. Within just six years, the market volume there has doubled.

The reasons for these regional growth differences are obvious. Whereas the print market in Western countries is essentially stable and at a high level, in upcoming countries such as China or India, there is enormous pent-up demand in virtually all areas of the economy. Naturally the print industry is also profiting from this.

Just look at packaging print. Even recently, in these countries, a large proportion of goods were packed in newspaper or sold loose across the shop counter. All this is changing at a breathtaking tempo. Almost everywhere, there are now supermarkets for a growing number of consumers who are consciously deciding in favour of goods and brands packaged in an appealing way.

That is another reason why packaging print will see the largest worldwide growth potential of almost 17 percent by 2014. It’s a similar picture for print shops in the Western industrial nations; this is because with the increasing range of products and greater competitive pressure at the point-of-sale, packaging conveying a brand image and marketing messages is continuing to increase in importance here as well.
 

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