Package Printing Safest From Digital Takeover?

PITTSBURGH—Ron Davis, Printing Industries of America vice president and chief economist, has released a financial report focusing on the long-term future of print and print markets. The report explores how leveraging multiple functions of print can increase the longevity and viability of a printer’s success in the marketplace.

The report breaks down print products and services into three different categories:

• Print intended to inform or communicate factual and editorial information such as magazines, newspapers, books and reports.

• Print providing product logistics to manufactured products—packaging, labels, wrappers and product user manuals.

• Print intended to market, promote, or sell various products, services, political candidates, positions, or ideas—marketing and promotional print such as catalogs, direct mail and brochures.

Of the three functions, only one—print logistics—is not subject to competition and substitution by digital media. Conversely, print’s “inform or communicate” function is subject to the highest risk of substitution from digital media. Print as a marketing, promotion and sales media appears to be in the middle.

In the future, based on projections from the last 10 years, while the number of printing plants is reduced, surviving plants in the marketing and logistics function will see substantial growth in shipments while surviving plants specializing in the information experience sales declines.

“The key conclusion from this analysis is that there can be a very positive future for print and printers,” Davis said. “Today’s printers that are aware of the emerging industry environment and crucial business strategies and tactics have a very bright future.

“Even if a pessimistic scenario were to unfold, on a per-plant basis, the surviving firms would still experience sales growth in two of the three major functional categories,” he added. “The graphic communications industry is facing very serious challenges at this time, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of life and opportunity in our future. Printers can create their own positive future by understanding and taking advantage of the emerging changes—the changes that are shaping the printing industry of today and tomorrow.”