Opportunities arising from the shift to digital production are keeping printers optimistic for the future of their individual businesses despite the downturn, according to FESPA’s third Worldwide Survey, the results of which are published today.
On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is ‘very optimistic’, the mean for respondents’ individual businesses was 7.6, compared with 6.9 for the wide format industry as a whole. This is consistent with the equivalent survey results in 2007 and 2009.
Worldwide Survey 3 underlines clearly how client demands for shorter turnaround, just-in-time delivery and shorter runs are driving wide format printers towards digital technology. Close to 70% of respondents are seeing these trends increasing. The greatest pressure appears to be on faster turnaround, with 81.5% stating that this is a growing requirement from clients.
Versioning and/or personalisation, online ordering and integration with other marketing collateral (such as direct mail) are also client priorities, with around half of printers reporting a trend in demand for these capabilities.
Conducted in partnership with InfoTrends, the latest FESPA Worldwide Survey involved the largest research sample to date, attracting online responses from dozens of countries in Europe, Asia and North and Latin-America in February and March 2010.
All of the 582 respondents affirmed that the percentage of their revenue coming from digital projects will increase in the next two years, rising to close to 50% of income for businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
This expected revenue growth is stimulating robust demand for new equipment, with 37.4% of respondents planning to purchase a new wide format printer in the next 12 months, and a further 33.8% still undecided about such a purchase. More than half of respondents expect their spend on digital wide format media and consumables to increase in the next 12 months.
Print service providers are seizing positive opportunities to grow and diversify using digital, with 78% of survey respondents expanding the range of applications they produce. 68% of respondents have looked at new market opportunities or developed innovative processes or products to tackle the impact of the economic downturn. Nearly a quarter of respondents see the future success of wide format print service providers as being able to deliver marketing solutions for the client.
FESPA Sales & Marketing Director Marcus Timson comments: “With just three months to go until FESPA 2010 opens its doors in Munich, this latest FESPA survey profiles a global community of print service providers that has remained resilient and adaptable in the face of significant economic challenges. Our recent series of FESPA Economy Surveys has highlighted the dramatic commercial impact of the 2008/9 downturn on wide format printers. However, wide format printers remain optimistic, alert to opportunities and focused on pursuing new applications or niche markets to generate growth for their businesses. The dynamics between clients and print service providers are clearly changing, but the most successful printers are adapting resourcefully, embracing digital technology and blending it creatively with other processes and value-added services to deliver the right solutions to clients’ challenges.”
Banners, posters, signs and POS/POP continue to be the leading applications for most respondents, with demand remaining stable across these product categories despite the economic downturn. A notable decrease was in backlit displays, with the percentage of respondents regularly producing these falling from 46.2% in 2009 to 26.4% in 2010. Increased demand was reported for billboards, photographic applications, decals and presentation graphics. Growth is also evident in emerging application areas such as textile, interiors, flooring and fine art.
Thinking ahead to their next print engine, almost a quarter of respondents are most likely to purchase a UV-curable inkjet device, though interest in technologies such as eco-solvent and latex inkjet is beginning to overtake that for more established solutions such as aqueous and solvent inkjet. Technology choice still seems to be a source of confusion for many printers, with almost 16% of respondents undecided on their next purchase.
The survey shows a converging community of businesses servicing their clients with wide format printed products. 22% of respondents state that the term ‘digital printing specialist’ best describes their business, followed by 12% who define themselves as ‘screen printers’ and a further 12% preferring the more generic ‘commercial printer’. The remaining 54% of respondents also included graphic designers and advertising agencies, ‘quick printers’ and corporate reprographic departments, photo labs and reprographic businesses, exhibition builders and sign shops.