Challenges and opportunities for the printing industry in the next 12 months

Written by Colin Gillman on 08 December 2016.

colinIt's no secret that many firms in the industry have been struggling, and demographic data shows a great deal of turmoil that continues relatively unabated. Yet, there remain very successful businesses in the industry. Cultural changes in the way people access media are having profound effects on the demand for print, particularly among advertisers, marketers, and publishers - all of whom are, not coincidentally, printers' biggest customers. How has the explosion of new media affected the print markets? What can the industry do to effective cope with these trends? And what will 2017 bring?

In 2016, digital printing; personalised, customised, variable-data, and other targeted printing applications; "Web-to-print" applications and use; wide-format printing; and interest in and implementation of production workflow solutions are progressing rapidly. But, do not forget business models, which will increase the `bottom-line`! Plus, experienced and skilled people of `any` age are a major asset.

2016 has seen marketers and advertisers steadily distancing themselves from print, and yet, given the effectiveness of print, they do so at their peril. Regardless, "cursing the darkness" won't help; printers need to develop a cogent strategy for responding to this trend. What the industry needs is an emphasis on seeking out new business models, niches, and applications for print. This is 180 degrees from how the industry tends to operate; but the need to do so has never been greater and will only become more profound in the year(s) ahead. Research and plan ahead, do not put your head in the sand.

The biggest challenges facing those who produce and distribute content are not necessarily production or workflow issues, but rather involve navigating the seas of new and newer media. The key is to `strategise` successfully and understand how each medium-whether it's old media like print, new media like the Internet, or newer media like podcasting and mobile media fits into a given marketing or advertising campaign. For publishers, the situation is even more crucial, as they need to understand and adapt to changes in the ways that people obtain content.

The past two years have seen a resurgence of business for these markets, and at the same time a veritable explosion of new ways to disseminate content. Cultural changes in the way people access media are having profound effects on traditional advertising and publishing models. Easy-to-use desktop publishing software has made it easy for business and individuals to do their own graphic design work. How have these societal and technological changes affected the creative markets and what will 2017 and the future bring?

From reports business conditions for design firms were strong in 2015/16, although they were slightly below what they had been a year earlier-although they expect business to continue to be strong through 2017. 

From worldwide surveys the following information was made available:

In Summer 2016, 40% of publishers said that e-mail promotions and e-newsletters would become more important for them in the next 12 months, while 27% said Web advertising will.

In Summer 2016, 55% of graphic designers cited "customers doing their own desktop publishing work" as a business challenge.

In Summer 2016, 35% of design and production firms expected business in the next 12 months to be "excellent, better than the last 12 months," up from the 33% who said this six months earlier.

In Summer 2016, 74% of publishers cited "printing costs" as a business challenge, the highest this challenge has ever charted in 10 years.

In Summer 2016, 58% of Web design and production firms cited "database development projects" as a sales opportunity, the highest this opportunity has charted in six years.

In Spring 2016, 29% of printers cited "design/creative capabilities" as a sales opportunity; an all-time high and a sign that print customers may be increasingly competing with their printers.

In Summer 2016, 45% of design and production firms said that "jobs designed for colour digital printing" were increasing, while 29% said that "jobs designed for traditional offset printing" were decreasing.

The Printing Industry is a major communications tool and is viewed as a `bellwether` of trends in the economy as a whole. This has always was the case from writing on stone up to the present day technology. There will always be history, change and the future.

The key issues continue to hamper the Print Manufacturing organisations that do not change in this global trading environment. These organisations need to wake up to the reality of life, listen to experienced/skilled successful people who can help, take on board business models to help them operate more efficiently and manage the management of change. To be successful in this global trading environment you need all these business tools to survive, so they need to take them on board and find success or not survive!

Take on board the benefits from a Non-Executive Director who will add value through independence and experience to raise your `bottom-line`. Yes, this is a must if you wish success in the future.

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