TrendWatch Graphic Arts (TWGA) has released its Printing Forecast 2006, which examines the forces that will affect graphic arts in the next 12 months and beyond. According to the study, the biggest challenge facing the printing industry has become what almost seems like a “war on print” by those who produce and disseminate content. The advertising and marketing industry enthuses about online and even newer media 24/7–and has even taken to referring to print as “offline.”
According to TWGA, what the industry needs is not only to fight back and remind people of the effectiveness of print, but also to come to the same conclusion as its most successful customers: that print walks hand-in-hand with other media.
Many firms in the industry have been struggling, and demographic data show 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 printers’ biggest customers.
This special report provides complete snapshots of the TWGA commercial printing and prepress markets and details how they fared in 2005. The 2006 Forecast also presents the latest data on digital printing; personalized, customized, 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. The report also looks at the current state of the creative markets who comprise printers’ most important clients–design and production firms and publishers.
Despite gloomy economic reports, recent TWGA Printing surveys have found that business conditions for printing firms remained healthy, if not spectacular, in 2005. TWGA and the industry expect business to continue to be generally stable through 2006.
In spring 2005, 66 percent of printers cited “competition” as a major business challenge, a reaction to what is thought to be too little work flowing into too many shops.
In spring 2005, 29 percent of printers cited “making our web site more interactive” as a significant business opportunity, a reflection of the culture-wide transition to e-commerce in general as well as a growing trend toward “web-to-print” applications in particular.
“2005 has seen marketers and advertisers steadily distancing themselves from print, and yet, given the effectiveness of print, they do so at their peril,” said a TWGA researcher. “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 years ahead.”
Highlights of the report include:
• In spring 2005, 42 percent of print and prepress firms expected business in the next 12 months to be “excellent, better than the last 12 months,” up from the 32 percent who said this six months earlier.
• In spring 2005, 38 percent of print and prepress firms cited “optimizing our production workflow” as a business challenge.
• In spring 2005, 39 percent of print and prepress firms cited “helping customers integrate new technologies” as a sales opportunity.
• In spring 2005, 15 percent of print and prepress firms planned to invest in a digital press, the second highest level ever.
• In fall 2005, 30 percent of print and prepress firms said that they offered customized web sites for on-demand printing.
Printing Forecast 2006 is available for purchase for $995. More info: TWGA, (866) 873-6310; e-mail: email@example.com; web: www.trendwatchgraphicarts.com.