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What the Commercial Print Industry Looks Like in 2018

With what some call the digital, communications or information revolution, commercial printing is in fluid motion. Idealliance expects commercial printing industry sales (all sources) to grow. 1.5% to 3.0% in 2018, after growing approx.. 1% in 2017. Where in that range it pinpoints represents the state of where our economy will be.

The current states of print sales going into 2018 is approx.. $84 billion, a 9% increase since the 2011 low, but still 14.6% below the 2007 pre-Great Recession level.

As compared to 2007, there are 23% less printing companies now, but less competition doesn’t mean doesn’t mean easier sales. The internet and digitization lets everyone into everyone else’s business. In addition, companies entering the industry between 2000 and 2013 are seeing a birth rate of 5.6% and death rate of 9.1% — meaning print companies are either getting better or being left behind.

Getting better requires prudent capital investment. The Idealliance “Capital Investment Report, Fall 2017” investigates the investment practices, history, plans and objective of commercial printing companies. Among the key results:

  • Digital infrastructure (workstations, servers, networks, etc.), toner-based, cut-sheet digital presses and workflow software top the list of investments during the past three years.
  • More than 38% of participants plan to increase their capital investment rate during the next three years, while just 6.7% plan to reduce their CAPEX rate.
  • Workflow software, bindery/finishing systems and digital infrastructure top the list of investments planned for the next three years.
  • A more efficient workflow, reduced labor costs/increased automation, and reduced steps, touches and turn times, are the top capital investment objectives over the next three years.

The changing nature of communication is also a defining issue for commercial printers. The consensus among our research panel is that personalized, integrated communication is the future: Personalized because “customized content delivers unique value,” and “the more you connect with them [through personalization], the more the resistance drops,” and integrated because “helping clients find and keep new or current customers using all applicable media is within our grasp and we should exploit it.”


This article is excerpted from “How the Commercial Printing Industry is Being Redefined in 2018” by PrintingImpressions.

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