New Research: Expansion into New Printing Segments by Wide-Format Printers Growing
Convergence in the Print industry—the process by which print segments come together through print service providers (PSPs) expanding into segments beyond their primary segment—is a phenomenon that has been occurring for many years.
In 2018, NAPCO Research and PRINTING United Alliance conducted the first print industry convergence study. The analysis of commercial, in-plant, packaging, wide-format, garment, and industrial PSPs validated the convergence phenomenon, assessed the degree to which it is occurring, measured attitudinal beliefs as to convergence trends, and defined a print industry migration pattern.
The research confirmed the anecdotal migration evidence: 81% of PSPs are entering or considering entering a print segment other than their own.
Three years later, with industry forces such as digital adoption, service provider contraction, increased e-commerce demand, and external factors such as a global pandemic impacting the industry, NAPCO Research and PRINTING United Alliance have reassessed the degree to which convergence is occurring across print segments and have redrawn migration patterns across segments.
The data is clear: convergence in the print industry is growing. Printers in every industry segment are considering entering areas beyond their primary focus, and many already have done so. Not only has the percentage of service providers considering segment expansion increased since 2018, but the number of different segments that printers are considering entering has also increased substantially as well, with more than half of printers surveyed considering entering three or more print segments beyond their primary focus.
As we emerge from an unprecedented global pandemic, we are seeing changes in global economics, consumer behavior, and print buyer behavior. This research provides critical input for both PSPs and manufacturing and technology vendors in understanding how their industry is changing and how they can adapt to it.
Wide-Format Printer Participation
The study included representation from across print segments with 15% of respondents coming from wide-format service providers. The breakouts from wide-format segments are highlighted in the chart below.
Wide-Format Printers Exploring Multiple Segments for Expansion
Looking at wide-format printer findings, each segment beyond their primary segment is being evaluated by no less than 15% of wide-format printers (vertical column). The segments that hold the most interest for wide-format printers are label (packaging) (38%), folding carton (packaging) (32%), flexible (packaging) (32%), corrugated (packaging) (32%), and promotional products (32%). Thirty percent of wide-format printers are exploring expansion in their own segment (evaluating launching new applications).
A non-trivial percentage of segments evaluated entering the graphic & sign segment (horizontal highlighted rows). Most significantly, 42% of packaging printers are considering expanding into graphic installation, and 38% of in-plant printers are considering the same.
Interest in Expansion into New Segments Growing
Comparing interest in expansion by wide-format printers from the 2018 convergence study to the current study, interest in all external segments has grown (highlighted column) with the exception of the commercial segment. The most significant increase occurred in corrugated (packaging) (17% increase).
Conversely, interest in expanding into the graphic & sign segment has increased among printers in all segments (horizontal row). The most significant increase is seen among in-plant printers considering expanding into graphics (29% increase).
The Future: Continued Convergence of Print Segments to Better Serve Print Buyers
The big question for print industry service providers, manufacturers, and vendors is “what does all this mean for the future of the industry?”
NAPCO Research and PRINTING United Alliance’s view is that convergence will continue to occur across print segments until such time that there is a blurring of the lines between different types of service providers.
This will occur because:
- A model in which a print buyer’s service provider can meet more of their print buying needs is ultimately more convenient and efficient for the buyer.
- Contraction in the print industry and a push by service providers to find ways to grow their businesses will continue to drive expansion into additional segments and, by extension, convergence.
- Technology continues to evolve such that it continues to become easier for service providers to spin up new businesses than ever before.
Print service providers and technology/software vendors serving the market must be ready to meet the changing print landscape head-on so they can continue to thrive in the near and long term. To learn more about print industry convergence, including must-do’s for PSPs, download the new NAPCO Research and PRINTING United Study, Convergence in Print: A Shift to the New Normal.
Analyst Insights features research and analysts' insights from the NAPCO and PRINTING United Alliance research teams. Market research is valuable for making strategic business decisions, solving challenges, and pursuing opportunities, and the NAPCO Media research teams survey, analyze, and monitor critical trends related to marketing, printing, packaging, non-profit organizations, promotional products, and retailing. To learn more about how the team can leverage its research and industry subject matter experts to support your organization's needs contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nathan Safran is Vice President, Research for NAPCO Media. Nathan is a former Forrester Research Analyst with deep experience designing custom research solutions that solve client business problems. Nathan works with the subject matter experts across NAPCO’s brands to design research solutions that leverage NAPCO’s engage audiences and provides deep insight. Nathan is a frequent speaker at industry events and his research has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and Fortune Magazine.