Novel Applications for Print Technologies Provide High Growth Opportunities
The study concludes that the pace of technological change will make the market very different from today, with print products commonly incorporating electronics or biomedical functions along with text and images. Print will be much broader than now, there will be major opportunities for printers and suppliers of printing equipment and consumables, but not in the usual places.
The economic situation will change eventually, but it is unlikely that the boom times will return. Several key drivers are likely to force change in the print industry: more cost pressure, faster turnarounds and higher quality, the internet, and the environment. The internet replaces much print and the cost of print forces buyers to explore alternatives; some buyers will be happy with the alternatives and will not go back to print. The environment is becoming significant as brands seek to publicise their green credentials.
Many print products are not seen as environmentally sustainable and alternatives will be sought. For example, Nike and Timberland are moving away from PVC banners and signage in their US stores. These trends create a real shift in the market and although there will still be huge volumes and very large runs, there will be continuing growth for shorter runs with less waste and possibly more personalisation. More personalisation will increase the shift towards digital printing.
When the upturn does arrive, the surviving companies should be well placed to take advantage, albeit in a declining market for ink-on-paper printing. The decline in printing and binding will be offset somewhat by print companies adding additional services to their portfolios, such as web and electronic product design and production, data management, stock management and distribution, mailing, fulfilment, sourcing and procurement and wider project management services. Many companies will look at the new potential markets and invest in electronic printing, biomedical printing, food printing or nanoprinting, using their transferable skills in project planning, data manipulation and precision printing.