One of the hassles about putting together a “state-of-the-industry” report for the printing industry is defining just what comprises the industry. After all, all kinds of companies print. So let’s tackle that issue first.
The National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) breaks the industry down into four categories: commercial printers, quick printers, digital printers, and other groups included in the NAICS code 32311 “Printing”. “The code does not include publishers, converters, in-plants, trade shops, or any others for whom printing for a non-captive market is not a primary business,” according to NAPL. It’s also instructive to note that they no longer make a distinction between small commercial and quick printers “because there is no longer a meaningful distinction” between the two.
So, how many “printing” establishments are there? Using Economic Census data, NAPL estimates the four categories mentioned above account for a little more than 31,000 establishments. Adding copy shops and trade shops brings the total to around 40,000. Throw in periodical publishers, book publishers, and newspaper publishers and you get 58,000 establishments with $230 billion in revenue and 1.32 million employees. The association adds that including in-plants, converters, and “everyone else
who operates a printing press or digital printing/copying system would surely at least double those totals.”
Taking only the four the NAPL printing establishment categories, we find that the vast majority are smaller operations, with a little over 82 percent having 20 or fewer employees, and almost 70 percent having 10 or fewer employees. On the other hand, only four percent have 100 or more employees. However, those companies with 100 or more employees account for nearly half of all industry sales.
Back in the “good old days”, printers printed with ink. Then they added toner to the printing mix. Then they moved into digital printing. Until then, printers pretty much made a living by putting marks on paper. Times are changing. According to a recently released PRIMIR study, print (marks on paper) accounts for 86.6 percent of total print industry revenue, while non-print revenue accounts for 13.5 percent.
What is this non-print revenue? The study identifies fulfillment and warehouse services (29 percent), mailing services (27 percent), and design services (25 percent) as the largest of the non-print revenue sources. Other sources include marketing services (six percent), data management services (six percent), Web/Internet services (four percent), CD/DVD/USB replication services (two percent), and photography and video services (one percent).
NAPL data supports this sea change. In 2004 “lithography” accounted for 76.7 percent of revenues, with digital printing/value added accounting for 18.2 percent. Just six years later, lithography accounted for 54.6 percent of revenue while digital printing and value added accounted for 37.8 percent. NAPL survey respondents pointed to digital printing, Web-to-print, one-to-one cross-media marketing, mailing, wide-format, art/design/creative, four-color lithography, database management, and fulfillment as areas most likely to grow the fastest in the near future.
Printing Industries of America’s latest forecast mentioned such things as mailing/fulfillment, database management, workflow solutions, VDP/personalization, QR codes, PURLs, search engine marketing, social media, design services, and Web services as potential non-traditional growth areas.
The trend toward diversification from marks on paper can also be seen in the annual Quick Printing Franchise Review (All percentages rounded off):
CATEGORY % OF SALES
1C Offset 3.0%
Multi-Color Offset 13.8%
4C Offset 4.6%
TOTAL OFFSET 21.4%
B/W Digital 10.7%
Color Digital 26.7%
TOTAL DIGITAL 41.8%
Mailing Services 6.0%