The European print market is driven from the end-user communication preferences of individuals, who have greater choice in communication with new channels including social media replacing print products. This is severe in newspaper, magazine, book, catalog and graphic products, less so in packaging where the physical properties of the pack are key.
Much print promotes goods and services where it is in competition with other media, with new channels grabbing share of the expenditure, at the expense of print in many cases. Internet and social media, the digital channels including mobile, have grown strongly as brands and retailers develop their communications with customers and new retail channels come to the fore. There is evidence that print remains an important part of the mix, but it has to be effective and cost-competitive to be used. The media landscape is continuing to develop with influential figures in advertising starting to question the effectiveness of some digital growth, increasingly asking for better metrics on the effectiveness of digital.
Print demand is driven by many factors, but the economic environment and advertising expenditure are important. Across Europe there is a great deal of economic uncertainty within the macro-economic landscape and it determines much of the confidence in government, business and individuals, and their ability or wish to spend money on print. Economic uncertainty has plagued Europe since the financial crash and successive Eurozone crises. Governments have tried many strategies from austerity to high spending programs but uncertainty remains, depressing print expenditure.
The main positive trend since 2011 is growth in digital print for graphics, and after 2014 a steady take up into mainstream packaging production. This contrasts with a decline in analog print processes overall, as the digital transition continues and print volume is lost to alternative media channels. Analog print markets have fallen by an average CAGR of 2.4% between 2011 and 2016 in constant value terms, with continuing falls averaging 0.6% in the five years to 2021. In contrast digital value grew by a CAGR of 6.8% from 2011 to 2016, while the forecast to 2021 is for a further 3.5% annual growth.
Despite the uncertainty, print remains an important communication channel that is competing for the attention of millions of European consumers. The methods of production are developing with new technologies being introduced that change the costs of print production at high quality. Printing remains a large business, with real growth in printed packaging as publication and graphics print declines across Europe.
The Future of European Printing to 2021 is based on an in-depth combination of primary and secondary research. Primary research included telephone interviews with industry experts across Europe. In-depth follow-up interviews were then carried out to provide more detail and background on specific responses. Secondary research was based on analysis of Smithers Pira’s comprehensive printing industry database. Additional information was gathered from country printing associations and ink and paper suppliers, as well as various printing contacts throughout Europe.