Market Watch

Index Indicates Print, Prepress Business Declining


Index Indicates Print, Prepress Business Declining

Steady growth of niche markets offers opportunities for success

In spring 2007, The Industry Measure Business Conditions Index (BCI) of all print and prepress establishments declined from 73.86 six months earlier to 58.54. This is the fourth consecutive printing survey in which print and prepress establishments’ business conditions have declined. This can be attributed to a number of factors. According to the Industry Measure, printers seem to be more pessimistic than the reality is, since the BCI is based on survey respondents’ own perceptions of business conditions. Second off, there is some truth to their perception, in that much print work continues to transition to digital printing, which isn’t always done by companies in the “traditional” commercial printing industry.

In addition, according to the Industry Measure Demographic Atlas, commercial printing establishments classified as “other” grew by 1.7 percent from the previous year’s Atlas, even as commercial printing and prepress establishments overall declined by 6.5 percent.

The “other” category includes commercial printers that produce specialty products like labels, tags and tickets using a variety of printing processes, be it gravure, flexo, offset, digital or even letterpress. In the grand scheme of things, this segment (or collection of many small, discrete segments) is not huge, amounting to only 11 percent of the entire commercial printing industry. But its steady growth suggests that the printing industry is gradually becoming less about mass production and more about exploiting niche markets. For many shops, the best success has come from focusing on a small core of specialty products rather than a wide array of general purpose print products.

The Industry Measure specializes in the assessment of trends and changes in graphic communications markets by providing timely and strategic information, market analysis and concise expert opinion. For more information, contact The Industry Measure at

NAPL’s Top Management Conference Held in Santa Barbara

NAPL’s Top Management Conference (TMC) was held March 7-11 in Santa Barbara, CA. According to NAPL the conference was the most valuable to date, crediting record attendance, a highly relevant program, multiple networking opportunities and steady flow of strategic management information for event’s success.

Attendees participated in a comprehensive program, addressing key strategic management issues ranging from organization development to the impact of postal regulations on graphic communications companies, and from effective marketing strategies to company valuations. Attendees also took full advantage of the multiple networking opportunities offered by the Conference to compare notes with their peers or with leading industry suppliers. During the conference, NAPL also presented its 2006 Management Plus and the inaugural NAPL eKG Customer Focus Awards.

“Once again this year, NAPL’s Top Management Conference provided graphic communications company leaders the opportunity to take some valuable ‘time out’ to do some very important strategic thinking about the direction of their business,” said Joan Davidson, NAPL chairman and group president of Sheridan Publication Services. “No other venue in our industry comes close to TMC in supporting that level of strategic thinking, which is so vital in today’s business environment.”

TMC 2007 was “outstanding,” said Joseph P. Truncale, NAPL president and chief executive officer. “We had a great group of people, some great programs, and events. We knew that coming in here. What we didn’t know was how much sharing and networking would take place. It happens every year but this year I think we set a new standard.”

Top Management Conference 2008 will take place March 9-12 at the Ritz Carlton, Orlando, FL. For more information go to