In general, I would say the industry is moving from being about “sign” to a focus on “graphics”, as many traditional graphic industries are looking to large-format inkjet as a true alternative. Overall we expect the sign and graphics market to continue growing, but with a different mix of segments.
Brian Phipps, General Manager, Mutoh America Inc.: The numbers we have seen on our hardware and ink sales have been very positive this year. Also, based on what I see and hear from partners and peers in the industry, the equipment business overall has picked up and people are buying again.
Mark Radogna, Group Product Manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America Inc.: Over the past two years, we’ve seen consistent growth in the sign and graphics industry. As the economy gets stronger, there are clear signs that segments like advertising are picking up, as advertisers turn increasingly to wide-format signage to get the word out about products and services. More print service providers are recognizing and offering options for wide-format printed work in the growing indoor/outdoor signage and display business.
Michael Robertson, President, SGIA: The sign and graphics industry is doing very well. The retail sector is the strongest market served by the SGIA community. Brick and mortar retailers have stepped up their game in what’s become a very competitive consumer market place. In-store graphics are playing a huge role in their success. We anticipate retailers using big data and other consumer insight strategies to increase customization of their store environments and also increase their redesign frequency.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, 2013 will be a positive year for the sign and graphics market. The larger graphic producers are doing particularly well. I expect a larger portion of the available work will migrate to the larger companies. Mid-size and smaller graphic producers are specializing and expanding into new markets.
Rick Scrimger, President, Roland DGA Corp.: From our perspective, we see several indicators that the industry has moved beyond recovery and is growing again. Our Roland Academy training events are selling out. Show attendance is up at the many events we attend. Capital equipment investment is on the rise as well, and consumables usage is up. We see these as signs that the industry is healthy.
We believe this will ultimately be a very good year for the industry, exceeding the peak performance we all enjoyed during the 2007-2008 timeframe. External factors and fundamentals are still in play, though. So, while we are optimistic going forward, we are also taking a conservative approach to our business. Overall, we see this year as a time to capitalize and focus on the growth trend, and we believe this is the case for our customers as well.
Sal Sheikh, Vice President, Marketing Large Format Solutions, Canon Solutions America: The market is relatively stable, with opportunity for growth depending on continued improvement in the economy. The levels of growth forecast for the industry a few years ago have slowed due to a cautious approach to capital investments of printing equipment, end print customers continuing to spend more on digital campaigns, and an overall continued tight control on marketing budgets.
WFI: What market segments do you think will have the biggest growth in 2014 and why?
Terry Amerine, Business Development Manager, Wide-Format Inks and Media, Fujifilm North America Corporation, Graphic Systems Division: Traditional POP and retail did very well in 2012 and continue to grow this year. Due to speed advances, longer print runs are now produced digitally at the expense of traditional screen print. Customization also drives this technology shift in the POP arena. Customization should also help growth in the digitally printed packaging segment.
Chambers: We’re seeing the specialty applications—wallpaper and interior décor—as being the most active right now.
Beatrice Drury, Director of Marketing & Communications, Zund America, Inc.: We have seen the strongest growth in fabrics applications as well as rigid plastics and biodegradable honeycomb (i.e.: Falconboard).