"Fabrics and soft signage represent another growth area for the industry. Europe is way ahead of the US in this market, but we see the demand for fabric rapidly coming our way," said Rick Scrimger, vice president and general manager for Roland DGA Corp?. "Demand for vehicle graphics and wraps continues to grow as businesses everywhere discover the power of this application for branding and advertising."
"As the economy improves I think we will see POP as one of the primary growth markets based on higher spending levels among manufacturers and retailers," said InfoTrends' Greene.
"The retail sector will continue to expand as customers make purchase decisions closer to the product. In fact, 76 percent of graphic imagers view retail stores as the leading growing market for 2010 according to SGIA’s 2010 Market Trends survey. Also, retailers are in the entertainment business and need to change the customer experience more frequently," said SGIA's Robertson.
"I also think there is still a great opportunity to go beyond promotional graphics with interior décor’ applications such as custom wall-coverings. The new print technologies seem to help address some of these growing applications quite well with outstanding image quality and durability on the types of substrates that are required," said Greene.
"Most high growth applications will have to have a consumer slant, as the business to business market for wide-format signage is fairly mature," said Boer. "Decorative applications require a skill-set beyond wide-format print. It requires the ability to convert the print into a finished product. It could be as simple as putting grommets on a printed vinyl sheet to make custom shower curtain to printing of fabric to create home furnishings. Print service providers who are able to develop new application/finishing skills may find their business transitioning well beyond just being a print service provider."
"Vehicle graphics is a great product segment for true growth. Any sign shop looking to expand their product offerings should consider this segment," said Radogna.
Although caution seems to be the word of the day when it comes to the industry's recovery, industry experts are still optimistic about the future—even though the landscape of the industry and the way we've done business in the past might be different altogether.
"There's going to be significant growth in the market and much of it's going to be driven by the convergence of what we define as analog and digital today," said Schinlever.
"We see the wide-format market improving over the next 12 months, but we also realize that the market will be forever changed in certain aspects," said Ryan. "The economic downturn has and will continue to reduce the number of companies in all levels of our market, effectively forcing out companies that are not managed well, or ones that fail to add value over time. The financial environment is also likely to be forever changed. Credit, once available to almost anyone for equipment, is now much more difficult to get and will continue to be so. We see a continued contraction in all facets of the market. However, we also see the demand for digital graphics bouncing back quickly and growing significantly over the next three to five years. So this represents an opportunity for companies that can survive, manage themselves efficiently, and offer products/services that add value for their customers."
"I would say that there is less visibility now than ever because of the economic situation which remains murky," said Greene. "That said, I think it is clear that there are two ways to get ahead in this business now. They boil down to: 1) finding new ground and 2) operational excellence. You can do both but it is hard. Finding new ground means really doing something different, such as offering design and content consulting, embedded QR codes, measurement and management service, etc. Doing this may require the addition of new people, skills, or tools and may require a different kind of sales approach, but expansion of services into new ground is a way to grow. Operational excellence is another way to grow. Can you out-perform your peers in terms of service, quality and cost? Can customers and prospects find you and do business with you easily? If so, you can likely grow by gaining more of your customers’ business and more new customers."