Increased innovation in technology has led to many industries being overhauled, with the commercial printing industry being no exception to this. Naturally, this has led to a variety of trends affecting the niche over the past few years; while some have been around for a while, some are only beginning to start.
Coupled with more demands from customers, printing companies will need to evolve extensively over the coming months, and possibly years, to keep revenues, and consumer satisfaction, high.
While some trends will have more of an impact than others, that doesn’t mean that they should be overlooked. If left ignored, even the smallest trends could start wreaking havoc with a company’s bottom line.
2021 Printing Industry Trends
Greater Demand For Security
Cybersecurity has been a developing issue for the majority of technology-focused companies, which has begun affecting the printing industry. Much of this has been driven by the increasing amount of security software released by HP and other large firms, which has raised more awareness about the issue in the market.
Traditionally, customers print documents that contain a large amount of sensitive information, which places a certain amount of emphasis on the need for this security. While this trend is relatively new, it’s something that will become increasingly more prominent in the years to come.
This means that companies selling printers and the related hardware will need to ensure that all products offer a significant degree of protection against hacking and other forms of tampering.
Much of the ways that firms can do so can be taken from more traditional cybersecurity techniques. In many cases, this may mean the installation of certain software. For companies that offer printing as a service, this means that their connections will also have to be as secure as possible.
Printing is already a personal service, primarily due to sensitive documents being used. However, an increasing number of businesses have been offering a more personalized approach to the product, with this being seen in a variety of ways.
One of the primary ways that this has been done is through expanded the number of services that a company offers, such as design and layout. While this takes more time to do so, it does means that customer relationships are improved, which can drive long-term loyalty.
Businesses have been taking note of this, which has made the trend speed up in recent months.
Workflow digitization has become increasingly prominent in a variety of industries, which has meant that the printing niche has had to catch up. One of the primary ways that this is being done is through allowing users to scan and store their documents quickly and easily.
This is something that shouldn’t be too difficult to implement, although it could mean a rework of certain products. Though it’s a simple touch, it’s something that customers are increasingly expecting as-standard, making it something that printing companies can’t avoid.
Internet Of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been affecting almost every industry that creates electronic devices. This is where a product can automatically connect to other products to facilitate ease-of-use.
Traditionally, this has been seen through a printer-computer connection, although it’s become increasingly common to see smartphones and other devices connect with a printer. This has meant that the products have had to become increasingly more adept with newer models, without it negatively affecting performance.
Minimalism In Design
For years, designers have opted for complex designs that were created to capture attention and get across as much information as possible. This is something that’s been changing in recent months, as customers are instead choosing more minimalistic designs.
For companies that offer a design service alongside their printing, this means that they’ll need to put a focus on clean, crisp images that still comes across as elegant.
Cutbacks & Acquisitions
Not all of the trends affecting the area have been positive. Many companies in the printing industry have been forced to reduce their costs, with a variety of reasons behind this. One of the primary ways that they’ve done so is by reducing their workforce.
Several factors have played into this, with increased automation and other technological trends helping to drive these cutbacks. These improvements have meant that many firms require fewer workers to maintain their output and quality.
This has been coupled with a variety of acquisitions by high-profile companies, such as HP and Xerox, with each of these being into key areas. These purchases have been used to accelerate expansion into certain markets while also taking advantage of newer technology. With the increasing rate of acquisitions, this doesn’t look as though it will stop anytime soon.
Technological innovations have meant that printing companies can offer their services in a variety of ways, as well as expand their product portfolio. One of the more notable ways that this has happened is with printing-on-the-go, which allows customers to order prints from their smartphones.
Much of this has been driven by increasingly connected devices, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), which is another trend that’s affected the market. While this means that companies will have to put more investment into upgrading and improving their devices so that they can capitalize on this, it can reap dividends.
This could provide much more customer satisfaction while also allowing companies to put less time and effort into the customer experience while seeing the same rewards.
Environmental causes have become increasingly more popular among many industries, with this being primarily driven by customer preferences. Printing has been no exception to this, as consumers are beginning to demand less harmful practices.
This has meant that many large companies have begun launching eco-friendly initiatives, with HP being a notable example of this. There are a variety of ways that this has been done, such as by planting two trees for every one that’s used in the printing process. Using recycled paper is perhaps the most obvious, and easiest way of doing so.
While this may have been optional in years past, it’s becoming increasingly more mandatory. As a result, it’s a trend that will affect almost every printing company in the years to come, making it something that each will have to focus on.
While customers aren’t dictating how a firm goes about being environmentally-friendly, they’re unlikely to choose a company that doesn’t put any thought into it.
While 3D printing has been around for several years already, this has previously been a niche area. This has been changing, however, as 3D printers have become increasingly more affordable. While this price is at an all-time low, that doesn’t mean they’re in the grasp of a typical consumer.
This has meant that many printers have begun diversifying and offering the service to their existing client base. Despite its growth, there are still a large number of businesses that don’t provide the service, which means that some companies will be able to capitalize on the market, should they enter it early enough.
While this means that there will be a considerable upfront investment, the future cost of offering the service will be relatively low, which could bring high margins to those with the capabilities.
Becoming more service-oriented has become a popular model among many industries, with this beginning to affect printing. Also known as a subscription model, print-as-a-service provides a much more automated approach for customers.
For example, instead of a consumer running out of ink and subsequently needing to go to the store, their printer will automatically order what they need. While this is something that’s mainly affecting the business to consumer (B2C) market, it looks to start changing the B2B side of the industry in the coming months.
Companies such as HP have started gaining some traction with this with its Instant Ink model, and other companies are beginning to follow suit. While this may require a large upfront investment, it’s something that may provide a significant number of benefits.
The most notable of these is that it can reduce the labor and time costs associated with fulfilling an order, while also leading to increased customer satisfaction. As a result, it’s become more attractive to companies as they look to tighten their pockets.
Key Statistics For The Printing Industry
Coupled with the various trends that are affecting the printing industry, there are several statistics that every entrepreneur in the niche should be aware of. These could provide more of an insight as to positioning a company going forward, while also helping to contextualize some of the recent changes.
- After 1.7% growth in 2018, the industry is poised to grow between 5% and 2.5% in 2019.
- The majority of United States-based businesses, 95%, are expecting expansion over the next 12 months.
- Packing printing is expected to expand to 68% of the industry, up from 64%.
- The total amount of revenues within the industry is expected to exceed $812 billion by the end of the year.
- There’s been an average growth rate of 8% yearly between 2014 and 2019.
- 6% of printing companies are mostly or entirely digital, while only 18.5% remain entirely analog.
- 8% of printing companies have less than 20 employees, while 63% generate revenues of less than $3 million.
- The majority of printing companies, 72.2%, have been in business for over two decades.
- An increasing number of businesses have continued to expand the services, with 65.4% offering graphic design services.
- 3% of companies offer direct mail products, while 64.9% offer PoP/Display advertising.
Being informed about the industry is one of the core principals of ensuring success. As such, every business owner should constantly keep an eye on evolving trends. While there may be a few others that are affecting the printing niche, these are relatively minor compared to each of the above.