drupa Global Trends Spotlight Report to be published in May

Printers adapt to challenging market conditions

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Messe Dusseldorf
Investment plans for launches in the next four years

This year’s drupa Spotlight report, Strategic choices in a competitive and converging marketplace, will be published in May. In a survey (conducted before the coronavirus outbreak) over 500 printers and almost 200 suppliers described the challenges and successes of launching new products and services. For many in the industry, planning their recovery from the coronavirus recession may well necessitate such launches, so lessons must be drawn on how best to do so.

In most market sectors and most regions there are very challenging conditions. As for suppliers, they are only as healthy as their customers and they too must respond to the declining prospects for traditional products and services. For many the answer must be, at least in part, to launch new products and services.

Commodity printing is overtraded, move away from commodity printing or close your doors.” Commercial printer, South Africa

Roughly 60% of printers launched major new products or services in the last four years into their existing markets. About half the launches were successful and very few went badly wrong. Diversifying the range of products/services and gaining new customers were chosen as the top benefits. As for the drawbacks, most reported that the launches sucked in far too much staff time and other resources and often ran well behind schedule.

About 30% of printers had launched into new market sectors. This is clearly a more difficult challenge and the results reflected that, with c.40% of the launches going well (compared with 54% for existing markets).

Turning to suppliers, approximately 80% launched new products/services over the last four years. The results were clearly better the larger the company with a success rate of 40% for the smallest suppliers up to 80% for the largest. The top benefits were diversification and gaining new customers. The biggest problems by far were launches running late and sucking in too many resources, while building the correct channels to market was a common challenge.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, 76% of printers and 85% of suppliers were either definitely or possibly launching new products or services in the next four years. Clearly that will mean investment, with digital print technology followed by finishing being the most popular targets for printers.

The report will draw four key lessons on how best to succeed when launching new products or services:

Launching new services and products needs proper well-prepared processes

Careful selection and development is essential – no knee-jerk reactions

Plan conservatively – expect delays and complications

Manage your expectations – be realistic

These two quotes from panel participants underline them:

The most important lesson has been to define plans with the ability to adapt to rapid changes in market and customers’ demands. The challenge is to grow by introducing new product or services areas while maintaining the existing ones.” Packaging printer, Puerto Rico

The switch from print to print + digital is essential for the survival of the graphic industries. Customers are no longer waiting. If you cannot provide the service they request, they will leave you, because a competitor, who has been able to adapt and develop new services, will take the market.” Commercial market supplier, France

The full report in English will be released by the end of May and available for sale on www.drupa.com. The Executive Summary will be available for free in German, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Chinese.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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