Harnessing Megatrends for Print Profitability

William K. “Kip” Smythe, NPES VP Global Programs.

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.

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