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Noel Ward

Real World Digital

By Noel Ward

About Noel

Noel Ward is Managing Director of Brimstone Hill Associates, which specializes in marketing communications in the printing industry, including video production. He can be reached at 603-672-3635 or via email at noel@brimstonehill.com. His website is brimstonehill.com, and he has a YouTube channel.
 

Another Shoe Drops for Ipex

 
The announcement from Ricoh that it is pulling the plug on exhibiting at Ipex next March in London is the latest blow to show organizer Informa, which still affirms that the show will go on as planned. The question is how much there will be to see.

With Ricoh’s announcement, nearly all the big players have opted out: Canon, HP, Heidelberg, KBA, Kodak, Komori, Landa, Ricoh and Xerox. Only Konica Minolta is left, plus EFI, Fuji, Xeikon, and a few others. The rest are medium-size or smaller firms, all with excellent technologies in finishing, color management, document processing, mailing systems, wide-format printing, ink, and so on. Collectively and individually these players all offer value for attendees, but the question is whether seeing them all in one place is worth a trip to one of the most expensive cities on earth.

For vendors, much of the problem comes down the difficulty of tracking and measuring the ROI of shows. Vendor execs readily admit that in an age of thinner margins, contracting print volumes, and well-equipped demo centers on their campuses, it’s hard to justify a big show investment, making it much easier to simply stay home and spend less money in more measurable ways.

Then there’s the appeal of verticals. As of the moment, many vendors that have bailed out on Ipex still plan on being at various vertical market events in 2014. Shows and conferences in banking, financial services, insurance, publishing, healthcare, signage, and labels and packaging reach targeted audiences for much less money than big shows. In addition, these venues often have regional versions that let the spend be allocated more strategically—and more measurably. Some of my clients have been shifting more of their show budgets to verticals because they get more for their dollar and can better reach decision-makers on a one-to-one basis.

This shift in the market is sad for Ipex and is further evidence of the sea change taking place in our industry. Just a year ago, drupa was busy but attendance was noticeably off from 2008. GRAPH EXPO keeps on plugging along but is also a shadow of what it was a decade ago. The projected footprint for PRINT13 in September occupies only the South Hall, where once it occupied both sides, including two floors on the North and sometimes the annex across the highway. It is still a vitally important show for the North American market, but is drawing less of a crowd. And while GRAPH and PRINT aren’t going away—the U.S. market is just too big to ignore—I worry that Ipex is getting ready for its last dance. And this is too bad.

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