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Industry Pundits

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By Industry Pundits

Industry Pundits

Trending Now is a forum for presenting a series of blogs related to a current topic of interest that are submitted by industry authorities on the subject.

Harnessing Megatrends for Print Profitability

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Nobody will argue the point that the last two years have been the toughest on record for printers and suppliers to the industry alike. The recession of 2000-2001 was bad, but pales in comparison to the so called “Great Recession” of 2008-2009. Printing industry revenues are down more than 19 percent from the 2007 highs, and industry economists predict meager gains in 2011 of about 3-4 percent growth.
Go Global Young Man!
At the same time, while the U.S. printing industry faces a slow or no-growth future, the emerging world has many fast growing markets. According to Printing Industries of America data, U.S. printers get a mere 1.7 percent of total industry revenues from international markets. Additionally, more than 61 percent of printers’ revenues come from within a 100 mile radius of their plants.

According to PRIMIR® data, the Chinese print market will grow 66.4 percent by 2014. Similarly, India will grow 39.6 percent. Can U.S. printers tap into these tremendous growth rates? Sure, many of the mega-printers already do, but why can’t a small- or medium-sized printer do it too? Nothing worthwhile comes easy, so it will take hard work and perseverance, but it can be done and will produce higher profits for those who try.
It’s not Digital vs. Offset...It’s Print vs. No-Print
Our industry seems to be fascinated with the whole digital printing phenomenon and there is much debate in the industry as to when digital print will surpass offset as the process of choice. In 2009, PRIMR commissioned a study—entitled “Megatrends in Digital Printing”—that was intended to identify which print applications will migrate from offset to digital and pinpoint when and why this will take place. The key findings from the study were twofold:

• First, when you look at the market on a “page equivalent” basis, a tipping point from analog to digital is decades away for the production print market overall.

• The more important finding is that Analog production page volume is shrinking independent of digital production print volume growth. In fact, the total number of printed pages will decline by 5 percent by 2014—a loss of some 2 trillion printed pages.

What this means is that every day marketers are making the decision between using print, some other means to market their products, or a combination of both. Similarly, everyday people are making decisions about buying print or receiving their information via electronic means. This is the essence of structural change and the extreme negative impact it’s having on our industry. We, as an industry, have to do everything we can to promote the virtues of print...but how do we do that?
Keeping Print Relevant in an Increasingly Digital World
According to BtoB magazine, “It’s 2011 and print, a battered and beleaguered medium in the interactive age, is still with us. Although diminished, print remains a key ingredient in the b-to-b mix. It has shelf life; it has texture and a certain portability. It has a way of commanding an audience’s attention that its flashing, beeping, buzzing electronic counterparts are hard pressed to match...for print to be most effective, it must be smartly integrated with other media, particularly the Web and its cornucopia of content.”

Well...that doesn’t sound all that bad for our industry, but how do we as printers and suppliers make it happen? How many printers attempt to encourage their customers to use print to drive their customer’s customer to the Web?
According to the recent PRIMIR study on Direct Marketing, “the state of multi-channel marketing is probably much more limited and fragmented than one would expect. It is much like truly sophisticated variable data printing remains today the exception rather than the norm. Both are hallmarks of top-notch companies, providing them with a competitive advantage. A lot of work needs to be done before they achieve widespread status.

“In neither case is the issue one of whether or not the techniques work so much as the ability, appetite, and resources for companies to tackle them. We believe the future of print-based direct marketing is closely tied to cross-channel marketing. Print-based direct marketing probably cannot and will not survive in isolation.

“Some companies will implement effective multi-channel, integrated, or cross-media strategies, utilizing whatever methods makes sense for their product, program, or campaign. The majority, however, will probably muddle along. While not downplaying its importance or effectiveness, we do not foresee a tipping point for multi-channel marketing in the near future.”

You can choose to “muddle along” as the study suggests or learn how to become an integrated marketer. My next blog will focus on some tools that printers can use to effectively and smartly help their customers integrate print and the Web.
For more information on this topic, check out this session at the upcoming Vision 3 Summit:

Harnessing Megatrends for Print Profitability
How can you leverage the megatrends that are impacting the printing industry and turn them into tools to increase your profits? Is globalization a threat or opportunity? Can you expand your business to the emerging nations of the world? If so, where do you go?

Kip Smythe, Vice President, Global Programs, NPES, is responsible for industry data and market research, global market opportunities, and international standards. He also serves as Secretary of the International Color Consortium and Convenor of ISO TC 130 Working Group 5 on safety and ergonomics.


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