The Digital Print Enhancement Opportunity
Keypoint Intelligence / InfoTrends estimates that 30% of offset printed color pages have some type of enhancement beyond the four process colors. This capability, sometimes referred to as “CMYK+,” may be a spot or flood coat, a Pantone color, a metallic gold or silver ink, opaque white, or a range of other value-add special effects. This amounts to more than a trillion color offset pages that have some type of an enhancement beyond process color. How many digital pages have such special effects? A small fraction, less than 3% of the total production color digital print pages.
Some of the CMYK+ digital print pages are done in-line with systems that have an extra imaging station. HP Indigo (Booth 613), Kodak NexPress, and Xeikon were some of the earliest system providers to offer digital enhancements beyond CMYK, but others have come to the market with such features more recently including systems from Fuji Xerox, Oki Data (Booth 3218), Ricoh (Booth 2022), RISO (Booth 3213), and Xerox (Booth 1302). There are also off-line digital enhancement systems from companies like Duplo (Booth 1225), Konica Minolta (Booth 2031), Kurz, MGI, Scodix, and Steinemann that use UV inkjet to produce spot gloss, dimensional, foil, and other effects. Yet today, the digital print enhancement market only amounts to nine billion pages annually. That may seem like a lot, but it’s just a tiny sliver compared to the total 1.8 trillion print-enhanced color pages each year. There is a significant growth opportunity for digital print enhancement processes.
One of the reasons for this opportunity is to add value to digital print pages, but there is a synergy between digital print and CMYK+ special effects. CMYK+ allows high-value effects to be done affordably in shorter runs, and with quicker turnarounds than with conventional methods. The personalization capabilities of digital print also make it possible to add the special effect, but also to make each printed piece unique.
To explore the size, scope, and growth prospects for digital print enhancement, Keypoint Intelligence / InfoTrends conducted a market study called “Beyond CMYK: The Use of Special Effects in Digital Printing.” This study includes a forecast, plus research conducted with three groups: printers, print customers, and system vendors. They also created a tool to help calculate return on investment (ROI). The result is a look into the size and potential of the digital print enhancement market.
From interviews with more than 100 print customers, there is an appetite and a willingness to pay a premium for these effects. Print customers indicated that they are willing to pay a premium of 24% to 89% over CMYK only for digital print enhancements. They also said these special effects could apply to a significant amount of their work. Spot colors (58%) and spot/flood coatings (38%) were at the top of the list. Brochures and other marketing materials were the most commonly mentioned applications that could benefit from these effects. Some of these effects apply to a wider range of applications than others, and some are likely to garner larger premiums than others, but all in all we see a strong opportunity for printers.