A study from PRIMIR conducted by industry guru Hal Hinderliter and featured at Graph Expo last October analyzes the current and future marketplace for value-added services in the print supply chain. PRIMIR, the Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization is the research unit of NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies.
The final report looks at 23 value added enhancements that entice customers and help boost printers’ bottom lines. According to Hinderliter, “Adding value to print is often touted as a way to improve the profitability of print service providers, but until now there has never been definitive research on the topic.”
Now there is. Data were gathered from print service providers (PSPs), trade service providers (TSPs), brand owners, print buyers and vendors through in-depth telephone interviews. A total of 577 respondents also completed a survey, which asked a range of randomized questions regarding the use of value-added enhancements. The study also highlights growth opportunities and defines the related equipment and supplies needed to enable printers to offer these value added enhancements. Customers were asked to evaluate cost effectiveness. (See chart)
Shifts in Preferred Technologies
Perhaps surprisingly, scented inks and coatings top the list in the eyes of print buyers and brand owners. However spectral databases, metallic process color systems and computer-controlled spot gluing are among the fastest growing value-added enhancements. The positive outlook of printers and trade shops is due, in part, to the advent of new technologies such as PantoneLIVE, which integrates Sun Chemical’s Smart Colour database with X-Rite/Pantone’s color communication system. This technology has won acceptance by brands such as Proctor & Gamble and Heinz, indicating a potential for explosive growth. Similarly newer metallic process color systems are still in their ramp-up stage, having been introduced in 2010. These two enhancements are joined by an under-appreciated enhancement—the use of computer-controlled gluing to eliminate the need for tab closures or envelopes in many direct-mail applications.
These three top contenders are likely to achieve substantial growth so long as printers succeed in educating print buyers/brand owners about these new options including cost savings, return on investment, and how they can best be used. On the other hand, rigid plastics, hi-fi color/expanded gamut and foil stamping are areas in which buyers have already predicted a decline in future purchases. This is particularly worrisome for printers as these services require a significant amount of investment to succeed. Partnering with other printers/binderies may be the answer to the problem.
The study concludes that the overall market for value-added print remains stable, with indications of growth in some sectors. Both print buyers and brand managers consider all forms of value-added enhancements to be cost-effective. As a result, they also report small increases in their use of value-added print and finishing over the past five years, while optimistically projecting modest growth of some enhancements throughout the next four years. Hinderliter says, “Print company owners and managers, design agency owners and managers, vendors, brand owners… and anyone who is curious about the true value of value-added services will find this PRIMIR research valuable.”
How to Get Value-Added Printing & Finishing for Improved Profitability
The full 240-page study “Value-Added Printing & Finishing for Improved Profitability” is now available for purchase to firms outside of the PRIMIR membership for $1,990. The 48-page Executive Summary is available for $498. Printing Industries of America’s member print firms and trade shops may purchase either the full study report, or the Executive Summary, at a 50% discount, $995 and $249 respectively, through the Association’s online store at: www.printing.org.
This article was originally published in Connected Winter 2015