Print is driven by applications and production digital printing is no exception. Demand for certain applications, however, changes over time due to various reasons, such as growth in usage, electronic replacement, personalization, and the move to shorter runs. The change in demand will have a profound impact on production digital printing in competition with other processes as well as between different digital product groups. InfoTrends just published its 2012-2017 production digital print application forecast for the U.S. and Western Europe. It details application volumes and volume growth for 28 print applications in seven main application groups for the main categories of production digital printing devices.
The application forecast draws from many sources. InfoTrends’ consulting staff conducts ongoing primary and secondary research in the marketplace to determine the print volume share of the applications and volume trends. The underlying print volume forecast is based on published forecasts, which provide market size in terms of installed base, average monthly print volume, retail value of print, and other factors.
As an example, here is a view of some of the top production digital print applications in Western Europe (by absolute page growth).
The top ten fastest growing applications are dominated by publishing and promotional applications. Compared to analogue volumes, the share of production digital printing in most publishing and promotional applications is small, but shorter runs and on demand production is shifting volume towards production digital printing methods. As with last year’s forecast, the application with by far the biggest gain in pages is books, especially benefitting from these trends. It is not only colour inkjet that is driving the growth, but high volume black & white inkjet installations are contributing to that print volume. In addition, the new B2-format digital devices are likely to have an impact on high quality book production.
The application with the second highest gain is TransPromo – the marrying of transactional print with promotional or educational content. It should be kept in mind, however, that the growth in TransPromo comes at the expense of the rapidly declining Bills and Statement application. Only 8% of the bill/statement volume is TransPromo today, but InfoTrends expects the share to rise to 25% by 2017, based on the rising use of colour printers used in transactional print, which provides ‘white paper in / full colour out’ workflows including the capability of colour messaging on a statement.
In Europe, newspapers have a high growth potential for production digital print, more, for example, than in the U.S. Different languages, holiday destinations and a multitude of newspapers are opening opportunities for digital print. We also expect to see some more innovative approaches in distributed print, localisation and readership targeting by 2017. Still, production digital print will only account for a tiny fraction of the total newspaper volume by 2017. The same can be said about Catalogues and Magazines. Progress in quality and substrates on the colour continuous feed inkjet printers will drive the opportunity, while high end cut-sheet printers are set to cover more and more of the high quality end of the market.
We have pulled back some on the anticipated growth in brochures/flyers/newsletter compared to our last forecast, as inkjet has been slow to adapt to coated stocks and continuous feed solutions are not as well suited to short run brochure work as are cut-sheet digital offerings.
Direct mail is already one of the biggest applications for production digital printing, but better targeting and effective use of inserts will account for more growth here as well.
InfoTrends recommends that industry suppliers target hardware development and product features towards these growing applications. However, markets do still exist in declining applications and can be exploited with niche or cash cow strategies.