It is the second of a series of reports that study strategic shifts in the international print and media sector at both global and regional level and follows the publication in October 2014 of ‘The Impact of the Internet on Print – The Digital Flood’.
Published in parallel are the ‘drupa Global Trends’ reports, annual publications that track key economic and market developments in the global print industry over the period leading to drupa 2016 and beyond – the last of which was published in February 2014.
Demand for print has dropped in recent years, in part because of the recession, in part because of the impact of digital communications. Despite this there are strong reasons to be confident about the future of the global printing industry, but only if the industry adapts its products and services to the changing demands of consumers. This report highlights strategic shifts in global demographics, economics and consumer lifestyles that will fundamentally change the demand for print.
At the same time, technological development is both reducing the demand for conventional print and creating fresh opportunities for digital print. Suppliers and printers the world over must review how their specific markets are evolving and make clear print application investment decisions based on their findings.
The bigger picture
For the next 30 years at least, the world’s population will continue to grow, albeit almost exclusively amongst developing nations. Literacy and living standards will improve amongst the developing nations, so the demand for print will continue to grow in line with the greater population. At the same time the inexorable rise in trade will, ignoring the setbacks caused by recessions, also create greater demand for print. Against that must be set the impact of digital communications with the unstoppable rises in both Internet access and use of mobile technology. Print advertising, which pays for much of print, is falling rapidly amongst
developed nations, but consumer expenditure on print is falling much more slowly. Audiences are fragmenting as advertisers and publishers play catch-up with the shift to niche marketing and 1-1 relationships compared with their traditional mass-market approach.
There are seismic shifts in the way that consumers expect brands and governments to communicate with them. Multi-channel applications are emerging that can ensure print plays a central role in those communications, by using the very technologies that are driving the external underlying change. This report is about how to grasp those opportunities successfully.
The impact of new print applications
drupa Global Trends report based on a sample of 810 printers from around the world, stated that 50% of printers reported declining conventional print volumes and 48% reported declining lead times. At the same time, 38% of commercial printers reported that more than 25% of turnover was from digital print, whilst the equivalent figure was 25% for publishing printers, just 11% for packaging printers but 59% for functional printers. When the Trends panel was asked about their investment intentions, 51% stated they would go for new print technology, 48% for finishing and 41% for prepress/workflow/MIS. It will be to research and clarify those decisions that most of them will attend drupa 2016.
Yet for many, the best route to improved and sustainable performance will be by investing, not in simple replacement equipment (essential though that may be), but in integrated print applications that offer fresh products or services to meet evolving customer demands.
All printers and suppliers must understand that at its heart print is another form of manufacturing and that manufacturing is undergoing fast and fundamental changes
driven by digital technology. Being digital requires a re-examination of your entire way of doing business and understanding where new value can be created, which could be from new automated and integrated production, new markets, new products or new customers.
Whilst in volume terms analogue print will continue to dominate for many years, (and therefore replacement capacity will be of keen interest at drupa 2016); it will be digital print combined with workflow automation that increases reliability and product quality, and makes it easier to create flexible production processes that can add value to the product lifecycle. Workflow automation is probably the most important IT investment a company can make, yet few printers will put this high on their shopping lists. The success of different printing sectors and their applications will depend on the integration of printed products with web and mobile communication platforms that are underpinned by data services and automated workflows.