The prognosis for the printing industry and particularly the companies on Long Island has not been good, yet a group of local printers took action.
Determined that they needed to see new facts and a broader view of new business opportunities, they sponsored a comprehensive six-month multi-client marketing research study, conducted by Partner Providers Inc., a New York-based marketing and business development firm.
The goals of the study were simple: To conduct both primary and secondary research to provide the sponsors new ideas, tactics and strategies from which they can determine market metrics and develop and launch a credible business development campaign.
A major focus of the study was aimed at investigating and addressing the key factors contributing to the loss of local business to out of state print suppliers while examining the current level of awareness and interest in emerging business issues, such as sustainable print sourcing, the distribute and print models, Web-to-print procurement and localized print sourcing.
The study also aimed at creating the foundation for a new value proposition to strengthen the region’s business base and gain a greater understanding of customer perceptions, practices and roles in the process of print procurement especially related to local print suppliers.
Partner Providers first conducted extensive desk research of existing literature and online databases including Lexis-Nexis, Ebsco, InfoTrac and other sources of information. The desk research sought to uncover data on emerging trends and answers to key research questions such as: What percent of print purchasing is sourced off Long Island and what is the impact of long distance transportation of the final printed materials to our region?
A lack of available information that was specific to Long Island businesses confirmed the need to conduct primary research on regional customers.
The task was undertaken using a Delphi Internet-based poll sent to more than 2,500 contacts that Partner Providers had identified as matching the business demographic model developed during the preliminary stage of the project. The target list of clients included graphic designers, corporate print buyers, marketing managers of various levels, corporate responsibility officers and “C” level titles, located within a 125-mile radius of the sponsor base.
The survey instrument chosen also provided an opportunity to conduct a follow-up survey allowing respondents to review a summary of all responses in relation to theirs and comment further on their initial responses and those of their peers.
The results provided a few surprises to the study organizers. For example, they discovered that the print buying model has changed and the components of a purchase decision had evolved to include many current issues of our industry, such as sustainability, and other “green” practices, as well as such common needs as quality, support, the ability to offer a complete range of services and the need to believe that the print provider is financially stable. When linked together these topics provided an in-depth look into the mind and desire of print buyers at all levels.
Proximity to the Client
The survey indicated that while the overall market was weak, the actual percentages of print-related spending for the region is expected to stay the same or increase in 2010. Local print buyers indicated that the majority of all print material was printed within 100 miles of where it was produced based on factors such as ease of doing press OK’s, lower shipping costs, better control and environmental concerns. In addition, customers would consider a local printer based on several important factors including:
- Print quality
- Dependability and reliability
- Speed and turnaround times
- Ability to receive files over the Web
Surprisingly, the research revealed that the vast majority of print buying professionals would consider suppliers outside the current supplier pool and a significant segment proactively seek new print vendors. Personal and business networking events ranked highest as venues for finding new suppliers.
In addition, follow-up comments revealed that some customers had concerns over the lack of follow up by their print sales person and the lack of current marketing support programs offered by printers. Based on this feedback, several marketing strategies are already under development by the organizers to address these issues and provide a comprehensive business development program for sponsors.
The survey also revealed the importance of print purchasing in relationship to other activities performed by each organization.
With nearly a third of all marketing budgets allocated to print, the majority of respondents stated that print played a very important role or was in fact a critical element in the company’s strategy.
Details involving the scope of print and what items are being developed to use print as the avenue of delivery was also queried and fits within the product models that the industry as a whole embraced. Addressing the issue of Web-to-print procurement, the study found that although the practice was used, it was not the dominant method of print procurement by our audience and does not seem to be growing in the near future. This finding seems to be in conflict with the majority of industry predictions but may be explained when evaluated with other responses and survey comments such as the preference of using local service providers and value Long Island companies place on relationships.
Purchasing Decision Factors
A number of questions in the survey focused on being green, sustainability and the ever present role that a carbon foot print will play in the future of print. Although the ranking of these issues individually were not category leaders, the importance of reducing the carbon footprint of printed materials was ranked as either important or extremely important by more than half of the survey respondents. Interesting to note that although reducing carbon footprint was important, few participants ranked green certifications as an extremely important factor when considering suppliers print pricing. Long term consistent value/financial stability along with added value, capabilities and location were the key purchasing decision factors when considering print pricing.
The conclusions of this market study and evaluation indicates that the market place has changed and if printers are playing with an older game plan, then they may be restricting their growth or setting their firm up for a loss. The findings and execution strategies that will emerge will be critical to each sponsor.
Print Buyer Attitudes
Think Global, Print Local discovered new information about print buyer attitudes but also confirmed some established business requirements. Good common senses recommendations such as the importance of having a valid and updated business plan designed to address a continually changing set of customer requirements and the development of a more proactive sales approach that includes a cross media and multi-segment offering were seen as a key road map strategies.
Partner Providers will be offering the report to non-sponsors after June 1, and copies can be purchased via the www.thinkglobalprintlocal.com Web site. In additional Partner Providers will be developing an online resource portal to a number of ongoing business development offerings related to this study. The customized Web site will offer subscribers the tools they need to develop effective and targeted sales campaigns using the latest in online and offline technologies.
Additional information regarding the survey can be requested by visiting www.thinkglobalprintlocal.com or by contacting Partner Providers Inc., New York, NY 10019, (800) 708-2202.