By the year 2020, print companies will bear little resemblance to the print companies of today.
A new market report, ‘Printing’, from market intelligence providers Key Note, forecasts that the most dramatic difference will be that many print companies will be in the service industry – changing their role from being in 2007, essentially, manufacturers.
The provision by printers of a wider range of services than merely printing is expected to become a key feature of the industry.
In fact, it is likely to become fundamental to staying in business and will become more evident as foreign competition intensifies over the next 10 years (2007 to 2016).
Competitive pricing alone will no longer be effective, and it will be essential for UK companies to move their products and services upmarket and to offer higher value-added services.
The printing industry experienced truly awful conditions in 2006 – the market was greatly oversupplied, costs rose, competition increased, e-commerce took a further bite into the market and printing prices were reduced.
Additionally, overseas competition caused deep concern, with anxiety essentially focused on Eastern Europe, India and China.
In the early part of this year, it is too soon to tell whether 2006 marked a watershed; whether it signals a contraction in overall print volumes, and to what extent the market is shrinking. In 2006, Key Note estimates that the market was worth around £12.51bn.
In the coming years, it will be vital for print companies to be increasingly proactive and far more service-oriented, which means forming closer relationships with their customers.
Looking to 2020, print companies will need to jettison activities that can be carried out more cheaply elsewhere. As a result, outsourcing will rise dramatically
Key Note point out that the other major difference for the industry will be that all of the UK’s top 20 print firms are likely to be global companies by 2020, operating across a number of countries and sourcing their supplies in the most advantageous locations.
Key Note forecasts modest market growth of around 1.5 per cent to 1.6 per cent per year between 2007 and 2011.
This new world of printing will pose huge challenges for UK print companies, and survival will demand some very radical thinking.
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