In recent years, the print industry has undergone tremendous change, primarily as a result of technology and the emergence of other competing media. That being said segments of the industry are robust and growing.
Generally, the industry is comprised of three different, but sometimes overlapping, industry segments
- Informational printing – including books, magazines, newspapers, and similar products, designed primarily to convey information content. This sector of the industry has been hit hard by changing technology.
- Marketing printing – including advertising flyers, posters, wide format, point-of- purchase displays, direct mailing pieces, and similar related products and services. This sector, while it did suffer slowdowns beginning with the Great Recession, as marketing budgets were reduced sharply, is back and experiencing healthy growth once again.
- Logistical printing – without question the fastest growing segment of the industry, this encompasses packaging, fulfillment services, and similar related products and services. This is the area of the industry that is least affected by new competitors, but where the technological changes have been most significant
In recent years, there has been a fair amount of inaccurate information about the state of the industry and its health. Much of this has been the result of the excessive focus on the Informational Sector, with high profile magazines and newspapers closing, and the advent and growth of e-books and on line news sources.
The Print Industry it is at a pivotal juncture. The industry is being redefined by significant changes in technologies, customer expectations, overall GDP growth, industry growth prospects, and industry consolidation. The successful printer of the future will re-define the print business differently than the past. New technologies, skills, market approaches and integrated services will define the Print Industry of the future.
An article titled The Future of Print by Andrew Paparozzi, published on September 29, 2014, reported on a study of owners and managers of companies that print. This “Future of Print” study, reported “what was” is rapidly being overtaken by “what can be.” Examples cited were:
- Generic direct mail compared with highly personalized direct mail carrying “QR codes or PURLS that allow you immediate feedback on the success/failure of the ”
- Mass-market catalogs compared with “on-demand, evergreen catalogs with variable-data processing tailored to individual needs and delivered very ”
- Traditional business cards compared with cards with “QR codes on the back to scan contact information directly into the phone without ”
The survey concludes, “of course, innovation will continue, with print incorporating new ways to create value over the (future)…the opportunity for every company in our industry is to understand how our clients and prospects can benefit from the innovation…”
The National Association for Print Leadership(NAPL), published The Tenth Edition of State of the Industry Series states that old Print Industry thinking must be purged. The winners in the future will have nothing to do with size, traditional equipment configuration or ownership structure.
The mindsets and activities below, were included in the NAPL report, as required, for future success in the Print Industry.
- The Successful Company needs to master new skills, methods and mindset because in an industry that is being redefined, as ours is, it isn’t the strong that get stronger, it’s the most flexible and adaptable, the most knowledgeable and best informed that get
- Integrating services-not simply adding services, into programs that make us more valuable to the Company’s clients is key to
Though this report clearly indicates the need for change it’s clear that for those firms that can adapt and evolve, there is real benefit to be achieved, with fewer and fewer firms pursuing a steadily growing market
The Print Industry (PIA) also published a report on the future of the Print Industry “Beyond the Horizon Report“. The Report identifies the following characteristics as among those required to thrive in the future print industry.
- Plants will be multi-process in providing conventional (sheet fed or web) printing integrated with digital and various ancillary services as a “one stop” shop that can match the technology to the job and combine multiple technologies in the same job.
- They will be “solution providers” and marketing service organizations that focus on higher end value-added products and services and market both deeper and higher in their customer’s
- In total the evolving, adapting printing firms will exhibit the keys to success of many of today’s industry profit leaders with a “specialized diversification” strategy in particular print market segments while diversifying into more value added ancillary services and printing
3 industry reports, one conclusion, The Formula for Success in the Print Industry has Changed. A “New Age Print” Company’s sustainable competitive advantage will require integrating new and existing technology, industry experience and know-how, and a one stop shop mindset, that offers customers unique solutions which satisfy their needs, reduce logistical risk, and improve support and service levels. Flexible manufacturing processes and data handling capabilities for Variable Data printing will be an assumed capability.
Are you and your company preparing to succeed.