FESPA Economy Survey 4 Shows Printers Gearing Up for Year of Growth

Eighty-six percent of respondents to FESPA's latest Economy Survey expect their businesses to grow in 2011, with more than half of those surveyed forecasting growth to exceed 10 percent. More than 17 percent anticipate growth above 25 percent.

Half of all respondents believe the wide format market has recovered from the economic downturn. Reflecting on sales in the fourth quarter of 2010, 25 percent reported them better than 2009, 19 percent said they were better than expected, and 39 percent thought they were as expected.

The Economy Survey, conducted on behalf of FESPA by its research partner InfoTrends, is the fourth of its kind to be undertaken by FESPA on behalf of its global wide format community. 432 respondents worldwide completed the electronic survey at the end of 2010, almost half representing the service provider community, with the remainder comprising manufacturers (22 percent), and resellers (18 percent). Three-quarters of respondents were evenly split between North America and Europe, with the remainder coming from the developing Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and South American markets.

According to the Economy Survey 4, growth in demand among clients for environmentally sustainable print services is increasing as economic concerns abate, with 45 percent reporting a spike in interest for 'green' printing. Nearly half of printers responding to the Economy Survey have already re-engineered their wide format production practices to become more environmentally-friendly. For many this has been through attention to more eco-friendly media selection (71 percent), improved waste management (59 percent) and recycling (47 percent). Fifty-nine have also addressed environmental performance with investments in lowering solvent use through UV, latex or aqueous production. Similar numbers plan to address these issues in the future. Only 12 percent of respondents have adopted alternative energy sources, though a further 13.5 percent expect to do so going forward. The vendor community has responded accordingly, with 72 percent of manufacturers claiming to have developed or introduced products that support more environmentally responsible printing.

The Survey offers evidence that printers are preparing their businesses for demand from clients for closer integration of print with digital marketing media. Forty percent report seeing an increase in requests for QR code and other variable data printing services, and 52 percent are equipped to meet this demand, though the remainder has no such capability.

Seventy-six percent of respondents see—or expect to see—digital signage impacting wide format digital graphics. Unsurprisingly, the applications deemed most affected by digital signage are backlit (24 percent), billboards (18 percent), and POP graphics (13 percent). There was strong agreement with the statement "My company is investigating ways to participate in digital signage advertising."

FESPA Sales and Marketing Director Marcus Timson said: "This fourth FESPA Economy Survey makes invigorating reading for our community. It shows an industry emerging with determination from the downturn, planning for growth, and anticipating and addressing shifts in customer demand.

"Such high levels of confidence auger very well for FESPA Digital 2011, our fourth dedicated Digital show in Europe (Messe Hamburg, May 24-27, 2011). The 'Evolution' message behind our cross-media campaign for this event chimes with the sentiments expressed in this research. Very few respondents consider the technology in our market to have reached maturity, with the majority believing that there is still scope for technology to deliver improved productivity and business performance. On that basis, and with the majority of respondents ambitious for growth this year, we expect a buzzing event in Hamburg in May, and we'll be doing everything possible to ensure that our visitor programme helps printers to make the most of every opportunity."

Timson added: "Interestingly, the highest levels of optimism - namely those respondents who foresee growth in excess of 25 percent—are among US participants. It will be interesting to meet with US printers at our first FESPA Americas event in Orlando in February, and to explore what PSPs from both continents can learn from one another to take their businesses forward in 2011."