Recently, we have begun to see the reappearance of the “R” word in articles written by economic analysts. Some feel that the economy might be headed for a stronger growth track, but there are least three potential obstacles to watch for: Europe, China, and political gridlock, which are the main reasons others feel we may be headed for another recession.
First, the positive signs: the jobs market is looking up, housing sales and construction have been showing recent signs of improvement, business sales and profits are rising, and even many consumers are in better shape today than they were in 2010 due to their focus on reducing personal debt.
While numbers that analysts watch could point to growth, the U.S. economy faces potentially severe headwinds from Europe. Also, slower growth in China is another potential negative, while Washington political gridlock and a fierce election campaign might also take a toll.
As a business owner or CEO of a supplier to the printing industry, how does the general economy impact the potential for your business? More importantly, when you look at your company’s sales data, how do you know if you’re keeping pace, leading, or lagging when compared to your competition?
To effectively assess your performance, you need access to some crucial information: if and when the recovery will strengthen, how long it will last, what is the market size for different products, who is buying what, and when they will be making those purchases.
To help explore these questions, NPES member companies have an unparalleled resource available to them: the free NPES Market Data Program. The program has provided participants with critical information on the size of the printing equipment marketplace for 50 years. There are three separate program elements that provide NPES members with targeted data on the products that they produce and sell.
First, the traditional NPES Market Data Program is a free, legally monitored, and highly confidential program that provides dollar and unit shipments data for 80 key industry product categories. Participating member companies provide monthly shipment information to an independent third party vendor and, in return, receive aggregated quarterly industry reports. From this data, members can gauge their performance, evaluate the emergence of new market trends, and forecast future product sales.
The program is driven by the needs of the participants, and the flexibility of this program allows participants to recommend additional categories as new markets emerge, ensuring that NPES remains the authoritative source for printing and publishing market data.
The second facet is the North American Digital Color Press program, which collects quarterly unit shipments of these products by five duty cycle classes, giving those members timely and cost-effective data on the size of this market, shifts between classes of products, and information on whether the market is growing, declining, or stable.
The third element is the Global Plate Program, which collects data on sales of printing plates by type of plate. Data is collected and reported on sales to the major regions of the world and more than 20 individual country markets.
To further enhance the information provided by the program, NPES works with the Institute for Trend Research (ITR), led by Principal Alan Beaulieu, to provide participating member companies with expert economic analysis and industry forecast reports. Beaulieu is a regular keynote presenter at NPES conferences. He was one of the few experts to correctly predict the timing and severity of the downturn. NPES members immediately saw the value in the information he could provide and requested that NPES work with him to provide forecasts for our industry.
The quarterly Economic Outlook Reports provided by ITR offer analysis and forecasts for the overall U.S. economy and six key industry product segments: total equipment, total pressroom equipment, sheetfed offset presses, total bindery, total graphic arts supplies, and direct-to-metal printing plates. They also provide updates on key leading economic indicators that members can use to predict their own future activity.