TWGA Releases Annual Printing Forecast
TrendWatch Graphic Arts (TWGA) released its annual forecast report for the commercial printing marketplace. In the report, TWGA indicated that expectations from within the graphic arts community are strong that 2005 will be a good year for commercial printers.
According to the report, 90 percent of respondents expect 2005 to be as good as or better than 2004. Among the findings, 32 percent expect business in the next 12 months to be excellent or better than the previous 12 months (down from 37 percent six months earlier), and 58 percent expect business to be OK or as good as business has been over the past 12 months (up from 51 percent).
Accordingly, this optimism is expected to translate to increased sales of printing presses. The report cited planned investment in six-color sheetfed offset presses to jump 6 percent (up from 3 percent to 9 percent), and direct-to-press (such as QM-DI) offerings to rise to 4 percent (from 2 percent last year).
Demand for heatset presses is also expected to rise from 1 percent to 3 percent.
According to the report, quick printers are most likely to value “making web site more interactive” as an opportunity (37 percent, up from 26 percent). They are also more likely to consider “broadening digital color variable printing jobs” as an opportunity (34 percent, up from 22 percent).
According to the report, the second-largest business challenge for print and prepress firms is competition (68 percent), up from 53 percent six months ago. Meanwhile, “understanding where our business should go in the future” is the number two challenge for creative firms, and at 66 percent is the highest this challenge has ever charted, according to TWGA.
TWGA also reported 20 percent of all print and prepress firms consider “building a networked, digital infrastructure” as a business challenge. Approximately 13 percent of all print and prepress firms have worked on targeted print jobs that incorporate “variable-image, variable-text” information. Interestingly, printers say they work on the archetypal “variable-data printing” job much less often than do design and production firms.
Two of the critical concerns for publishers are “paper prices” (at 69 percent, the highest this challenge has ever charted) and “printing costs” (at 63 percent, also the highest point for this challenge). As a result, these challenges are driving a lot of interest in non-print media on the part of publishers.
“As business has improved, printers have been increasingly realizing ‘adding printing capabilities’ as a sales opportunity, both in terms of adding additional presses to handle more work and in printing capabilities they don’t already possess,” said Richard Ramono, TWGA analyst. “As a result, planned investment in smaller items is down almost universally as printers investigate the notion of buying big-ticket items. As they get swept up in the euphoria of increased work, they are turning away from ‘value-added services’ that they have been pursuing during the downtimes. This may be a mistake; there is an increasing emphasis from all corners of the culture on non-print media which will have profound long-term consequences for the printing industry.”
According to Mr. Ramono, “Quick printers have become one of the healthiest of the printing markets and it happened largely by embracing ‘value-added services,’ as well as new technologies such as digital printing, color copying and non-print services such as cross-media services. This is no easy feat when you consider that their competition is not just from other quick printers, but also from places such as Staples, The UPS Store, and other retail stores who never would have been considered print providers in the past.”
The TrendWatch Graphic Arts “Printing Forecast 2005: The TrendWatch Graphic Arts Perspective on the Challenges and Opportunities for Printing Firms in the Next 12 Months and Beyond,” report is available for purchase from the TrendWatch Graphic Arts eStore online at www.trendwatchgraphicarts.com or by phone at (866) 873-6310. The price for the 143-page report is $995. TrendWatch Graphic Arts eStore customers can download this report in PDF Acrobat format immediately after purchase.