The report reflects positive mood in the printing industry.
Printers and suppliers from the majority of market sectors reported growing confidence in their companies’ economic performance. The opportunity was taken this year to track patterns of performance over the years.
Packaging remains the most buoyant market and there has been a steady improvement in confidence over the five years amongst commercial printers. Functional printers were following a similar positive story but there was an increase in uncertainty this year for both printers and suppliers to this market. The report stipulated that publishing printers probably face the most challenging strategic changes and there is a decline in assurance this year, despite the reducing threat from e-books.
Sabine Geldermann, director drupa, Messe Duesseldorf, commented: “The report indicates that print can be optimistic about the future. After the double blow of the 2008 global recession and the consumer shift to digital communications, printers and suppliers are taking full advantage of the slow but clear global economic revival and finding new ways to exploit emerging technologies so as to place print as a central tool for consumers.”
Recruited from senior managers who visited drupa in 2016, over 700 printers and almost 250 suppliers participated in the survey.
Challenges for some regions but strong growth in suppliers’ core sales
In regional terms the picture is positive in general but with clear exceptions. North America has been consistently the strongest region over time, although Europe has shown steadily increasing confidence. Africa and the Middle East see clear decline in confidence over time.
In Asia, there does not appear to have any change in economic confidence over the years.
Globally this is the fourth year of increasing confidence reported by suppliers. What is striking this year is the surge in sales of core equipment/software/materials (+29% net balance).
Printers globally report that the squeeze on prices and margins continues and is coped with best by ever increasing utilization and hence revenues, whilst holding costs as steady as possible. There is evidence that over time the squeeze on prices and margins is somewhat lessening globally.
However, the regional picture is far more patchy. For example, whilst North America reported some increase in prices, Australia/Oceania reported a clear drop in pricing.
Equally Packaging prices are holding up globally whilst publishing and to a lesser degree commercial prices continue to decline.
Digital print grows but conventional print still dominates
The transition to digital print continues but slowly, with functional printers now largely dependent on digital print but few packaging printers reporting significant digital sales as yet. (60% of functional printers report more that 50% of turnover is digital, whilst just 12% of packaging printers report more than 25% of turnover is digital.)
Only 27% of all printer participants operate a Web to Print/Storefront installation, up just 2% from 2014.