Large Format Printing Market Reports. Are they useful?

What can we learn from industry-focused large format printing market reports, that we don’t already know?

A very detailed market report on any industry may cost $5,000 or more. A lot of work goes into some of these documents, but are Large Format Printing Market Reports worth the money if you’re working *inside* the industry?

For example, last week we saw the International Sign Association’s first 2019 quarterly report come out, just in time for #signexpo in Las Vegas (it’s a little less expensive, that’s true).

And there’s a new report out from MarketResearchReport.Biz, a US-based firm. (Guess what they do.) The catchily titled, ‘Large Format Printers Market: Global Industry Trend Analysis 2012 to 2017 and Forecast 2017 – 2025’, makes for rich bedtime reading, no doubt.

But would you part with cash for this paperwork? Let’s see… 

Useful information always has a value

Detailed market reports are a must if you’re an investor. A macro-view is vital if you’re a venture capitalist or a fund manager looking after pension pots. Someone who doesn’t understand a market – how it works, or how to hedge for the longer-term opportunities – and someone getting up-to-speed quickly.

If you’re working inside a market, though, as we are, then what can wide format printers or wide format print suppliers learn from these very general, high-level reports that might be of value to long-term business plans?

A good report delivers value (detail) in practice 

“Overall economic conditions create caution – but the signs, graphics, and visual communications industry will probably be okay,” says the intro to one of those documents. Okay, that’s fair enough. We think that’s a good sign.

“Large Format Printers Market to Witness Comprehensive Growth by 2025,” and, “High initial investment costs are a major restraint,” says the other report, which is a bit less helpful. The same, loose sentiment might be applied to any sector or subject. Find and replace. And the Pope owns a rosary, say we.

So, can we read between the lines?

These two reports are targeting different audiences, that’s true. But as we skim-read their introductions, we start getting the inside track. For example:

“Economic forecasts are not an exact science…” – is the gist of one intro. However, if things aren’t as prosperous as they have been – it goes on to say – well, the large format printing industry should soon feel the benefit of any upturn in GDP.

That’s good news for the long term. (But actually, it doesn’t matter which industry or country you’re talking about – that would still be good news. Valuable? Hm.)

And if opportunities for employment are generally dependant on better education, then it stands to reason – says the report – that evidence of more money for the next generations’ schooling is a positive change for the better, and that the large format printing industry will benefit in the long run.

And a bear goes into a wood, say we.

Market report overviews CAN hint at hidden value

Some reports are worth more than others. The trick is, working out which ones have the detailed insights that can make a difference. Mind you, some offer the kind of details that may be very, very useful – even in the introductions.

One of them, for example, is forecasting high levels of expansion for the large format printing industry in the Asia Pacific region, as the demand for high quality textiles and outdoor advertising is on the up in that area.

The expectations of consumers in the Asia Pacific market are catching up with (if not overtaking) those of Europeans and Americans – so print quality must improve. And, as consumerism spreads and we’re seeing an evolution in the economic outlook of the far East – so, too, we are seeing an increased in outdoor advertising.

Big, bright, bold, and beautiful wide format print-that-catches-the-eye … it’s an expanding market – good! And that’s an indicator that has significance in terms of long-term business planning. But it’s when we read further on (in the intro that’s provided by our friends at ISA ?) – that things get more interesting.


ISA’s quarterly report points to prosperity for automation

Up-front, in the overview to ISA’s first quarterly report of 2019, it states: “Long-term growth in the end market electric/digital category will depend on a complete and flexible solution; integration of multiple sensors, IoT or AI technology.”

“The rise of digital looks promising. Hm. But ,” you may be wondering, “what’s the connection between that and the future of media-based wide format printing?”

It may be, automation. Automation, consistency and disruption.

Automation delivers consistency

In the US, the digital signage market is expanding. It’s reflecting affordability (and preference) for all things tech-oriented, and it has expectations for over 3.5 x growth in the next 10 years.

Consumers are drawn to digital – and the demand for color consistency to match that digital content is never going to disappear.

On the surface, this may seem like we’re reaching too far to make a point here, but this is exactly the kind of insight worth considering. Brand psychologists write their dissertations on the subliminal importance of color-matching in peripheral vision. If there’s an ad running on a display unit that’s using a HEX code of FE5000, then, for the most discerning customers, you MUST be confident your team can deliver Pantone© Orange 021 C in a wide range of complementary materials.

Every. Single. Time.

Reporting Disruption

Look again at ISA’s pulled-out details: the success of digital signage will be dependent on the integration of multiple sensors, IoT or AI technology. This is good news for digital, and great news for wide format print.

Lights-out automation is NOT just around the corner for every wide format printer, we acknowledge that. Many businesses won’t want to automate their workflows. Some don’t have an appetite for it, others see automation as something that’s reserved for huge, enterprise-sized installations (even though it’s not). But look at it this way:

  • If digital signage is benefiting from better WiFi, and better broadband connections…  then LFPs should also be handling handle faster transmission of their largest files across a busy network. It’s a move towards automation.
  • If the digital signage industry is harnessing the Internet of Things to improve connectivity with design studios…  then LFPs should also be seeing more efficiency and reduced costs all around. Automation wins again.
  • And if the digital display sector is going to benefit by embracing intuitive systems and advances in technology…  then LFPS should, too.

Even if it’s something straightforward, like using a software template rather than laying out by hand … that’s automation, isn’t it? Our own ‘basic’ software package – PrintFactory’s Focus Plan – delivers automation of a kind that simply frees up time for people to do whatever it is they’d rather be doing, instead of handling repetitive manual tasks.

When we see any hints – reports – alluding to technology being a driver for success in the print industry, we need to take careful notes.

Market reports can be useful. Their value varies.

If you’re making significant decisions about investment (or not) in a very sizeable enterprise, or a change in your business architecture, then we think the ISA Sign Industry Quarterly Economic Report for the first quarter of 2019 is worth reading. The introduction, at least!

The report does look at projected pricing of equipment and commodities, too, and it makes some interesting points about anticipated price increases in the second half of this year.

Will we see even more moves to SaaS for the wide format print industry in the long-term, as a result of market swings in the short term? Who knows.

If you’re coming to ISA2019 next week, we’d love to hear your thoughts. We’ll be at the International Sign Association’s event in Las Vegas. Booth 861.

And we’ll have to do a report on that…

Better printing, better profits – automatically. 
Let’s talk about automation.

Find us at ISA SIGN EXPO 2019