Experts' 2014 Predictions for the Printing and Converting Industries

Posted by Rock LaManna

2014 Predictions

What's in store for the printing and converting industries for 2014?  I floated that question out to experts in the field and received a wide range of responses, the funniest being, "If I knew the answer, I'd be retired by now."  Check out what some of the industry's brightest prognosticate for 2014!

Ok, it's my blog, so I'll go first...

Rock LaManna, President and CEO
LaManna Alliance

Rock LaManna

My big, bold prediction for 2014?  Everyone will get older.  Yes, I know I'm going out on a limb here, but we are going to see baby boomers get another year closer to retirement.  That means defining your legacy and your company's future becomes more critical than ever.

I also see fantastic growth, but only for the people who want it, and are smart enough to adapt to the areas that will be prosperous in 2014 and beyond.  And where are those areas?  Read on and find out!

Lou Berceli, Digital Label Systems Sales Manager
Allen Datagraph Systems Inc.

Lou Bercelli
After talking and meeting with hundreds of traditional label and commercial printers throughout the U.S. and Canada throughout 2013, most are predicting continued growth for short-run digital printed labels in 2014.  Digital Label Printers see a higher profits margins versus conventional label printing in addition supplementing their business with digital label printing has helped to retain and gain new business for their other print production operations.

Label Forecast from The Freedonia Group Inc. & I.T. Strategies - 2012

1. U.S. demand for Labels to exceed $19 Billion in 2017 due to 4.2% annual growth (per The Freedonia Group)

2. Digital Label Printing will experience double-digit annual through 2017 as it continues to displace traditional methods such as lithography and flexography. (per The Freedonia Group)

3. Digital Label Print Revenues Projected global growth 2011 - 2016 at 34% CAGR (per I.T. Strategies)

Michael Brenk
Managing Partner/President of GRN Clarendon Hills

From my viewpoint I see a continued trend in hiring key talent both with revenue producers (sales) and key operational management in the large format graphic industry.
As the economy continues to recover and the consumer becomes more confident, the point of sales/graphics industry should find that marketing budgets will increase in 2014  The key is targeting your sales force with the best people you have and hiring the kinds of people you really need to take advantage of these opportunities. Fabric, dye sublimation and textile image wide format should be especially strong.

George Compiani, Senior Marketing Specialist
Canon Solutions America, Inc.

George Compiani

Social media has a major influence on all aspects of our economy.  Being able to offer the right products for your customers will require new solutions.  Printing has been a manufacturing based industry.  Now it has now shifted to be more customer centric, meaning you have to offer services.  You have to think, "what can I do to help my customer grow"?  Many Print Service Providers have added marketing services.  Variable data printing, web site generation and data analytics are just a few ways the PSP has transitioned.

Digital solutions allow the PSP the ability to print shorter runs, respond quicker and incorporate the customer's integrated marketing strategies.  Marketing has become very data driven. Understanding the consumer's buying patterns gives the manufacturer better returns on their marketing spend.  Data means very customized printing. Digital printing is even more valuable now then ever.  Customized messaging allows for more creative campaigns.  You will see the PSP become more of a marketing service provider or MSP than ever.  

Next year, you will see the PSP become more involved with Point of Sale/Point of Purchase solutions.  Signage and messaging is the last point where consumers make their buying decisions.  There is tremendous value in being able to help your customer represent their products and services better.  End to end means you start at the initial point of contact like email, blogs and direct mail and finishing with signage and displays that represent your customer's business.

Deborah Corn, Print Media Centr

Deborah Corn was at SGIA Expo resized 600
I predict that hashtags (#'s) used in Twitter as "keywords" will become a major marketing tool in 2014 for creating and maintaining engagement with followers.  They are essential to segmenting messaging, and searchable.

Hamilton Costa, AN Consulting

Hamilton Costa

Next year is a special one for  Brazil considering Soccer World Cup in June/July and presidential and governors election on October. Despite economic slow pace there is a good perspective for printing in general. Converting will struggle a bit but we estimate a better year than 2013.

Omike Fichera, Publisher, Dealer Communicator, Dealer-Marketing Strategist

Omike Fichera
As it relates to the channel in the coming year for graphic arts dealers and distributors of wide format products, I sense two things. The first is that we will continue to see a shift from offset print sales to digital thereby affecting offset dealers that are not looking into other print-product-segments.

BUT, the good news in this sector is that offset is still alive and that offset dealers that stay in the game "while in search of product line expansion" will win what other dealers are giving up as the shift to digital increases.

So...part two of my view of 2014, is that dealers that are able and willing to take the challenge by straddling both offset and wide format will be winners. Why? Because as their offset printing customers shift to digital and expand to wide format those same customers will choose the dealers they know, trust and have served them diligently over the past years.

The supremacy held by distributors in the wide format channel will be severely challenged as offset dealers become stronger, and more knowledgeable in that arena.

Tim Greene, InfoTrends

TGreeneNew resized 600
Call it what you want, big data or big brother, I think a big trend in 2014 will be the utilization of tools and technologies that make communications of all types (print included) smarter and more effective. That means that we’re going to see personalization and delivery of customized messages across media. “Print” companies will increasingly invest in IT resources to build their capacity to play a role in that market. I think there will be a lot of M&A activity wherein “print” companies buy agencies and others that have these types of capabilities.

Mark Hahn, Senior Vice President

Mark Hahn
Based on my research over the past few years into transactions and closures in the printing, packaging, paper and related industries, I expect that we’ll see the following trends in industry M&A and deal activity:

—  Book Printing Continues to Decline (Especially Education)
—  Paper Industry Continues to Consolidate & Close Mills
—  Large City Directories Continue Decline (or disappear?)
—  Consolidation in Printing MIS Systems Continues
—  Quick Printers / Copy Shops Merge, Start Up and Close
—  Transpromo/Transactional Printers Consolidate
—  Stationery “Goes Mobile” (Website Links, QR Codes, and NFC)
—  Printing Companies Purchase New Technology Companies (Mobile-Interactive, Data    Intensive Software Applications, Content Delivery Systems)
—  Local Newspapers Close Printing Facilities & Outsource Print
—  Major Urban Newspaper Decline and Cease Publication
—  Commercial Printers Continue their Evolution to MSP’s, with a “Fork in the Road” heading in one of these directions:
     *  Physical Services, combining Mailing & Fulfillment Services
     *  Mobile-Interactive / Digital Delivery of Marketing Messages
     *  Going upstream into creative and conceptual marketing services.
—  Print Management Firms Buy Production Capacity
—  Print Management Firms  Move Upstream to Design
—  Printers Buy Print Management Firms
—  Consolidation of Commercial Printers Continues at Brisk Pace
—  Commercial Printers Continue to Acquire Wide  Format Shops
—  Private Equity Invests in Labels and Packaging Companies

Arnold Kahn, President

Arnold Kahn

We predict continued job growth in various sectors like large format, labels, and packaging. The industry will continue to consolidate, but the demand for human capital will increase as the talent pool diminishes.

Pat McGrew, Inkjet Evangelist
Hewlett-Packard Company

Pat McGrew
I work worldwide and the big Wind in the sails is the recognition by Printers that whatever they are doing today they will need to grow and change. Niche players are finding it harder to survive, so the entire industry is in an education mode. Printers who embrace the need to learn and lay their investment plans with an eye toward capturing new markets are the ones who will survive.

David Murphy, Director of Market Development, Americas
Hewlett-Packard Graphic Arts

We see greater accelerated digital print growth in prime labels, flexible packaging, folding cartons and corrugated packaging. This growth will result from brand owner education around digital print’s new capabilities, as well as run-length reductions, new versioning/personalization applications, speed-to-market pressures and the proliferation of new SKUs. In the large format printing space, user-generated content, social media and localization will drive increased adoption of digital print in interior décor and POP/retail.

Matthew Parker, Champion of Print

Matthew Parker

The key trend I see is diversification.  Litho printers will add digital presses. Commercial printers will enter the wide format arena. More vendors will start actually selling added value services such as web to print, personalisation and fulfilment.

Successful diversification will require printing companies to target niche audiences. They will need to understand the needs of their clients in far greater depth. The sale will have to show what's in it for the client, rather than focusing on technical print matters. It will be interesting to see whether this necessary change to sales messaging will actually happen in 2014.

David Thompson, Thompson Print & Mailing Solutions

David Thompson resized 600

What has grown this year, 2013, is wide format and digital printing, I would have to say that I do see tremendous growth in wide format printing. Digital printing will also grow at a good pace in 2014.  The reason is sales people have seen more requests for wide format and vehicle wraps as well as shorter runs that enhance the digital printing market.

Shakeel Sheikh, Associate Director
Al Ahli Plastic Industries

Shakeel Sheikh resized 600
My Prediction is to reduce the packaging cost without compromising on the quality, the "Down Gagging" would  be the main focus in 2014. Also more portion packs will emerge to suit the buying power of the common man.

There you have it...big 2014 predictions.  If we didn't include yours, feel free to leave it in a comment below!  Good luck to all in 2014!

Topics: Business Development, Converting Industry, Printing Industry