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Commentary & Analysis

Print 2017 Continues its Innovative Strides

A trade show is always an interesting ecosystem, and the Print 2017 event in Chicago was no exception. This article provides a brief overview of the highlights from the show floor.

By Pat McGrew
Published: September 14, 2017

A trade show is always an interesting ecosystem. Vendors mix with buyers in a shopping mall atmosphere with a touch of a college fraternity rush. Buyers come with shopping lists and curiosity while vendors come with sales plans, quotas, and the very best products they can bring to the show floor. Every four years, the Print event carries on the trade show tradition, once again uniting a wide array of vendors with buyers from all walks of life.

At Print 2017 in Chicago, we find ourselves in the midst of a changing show profile and a changing marketplace. There were a wide variety of educational opportunities on and off the show floor, some free and some for a fee. The largest of the free education spaces, Printerverse, hosted free panels that were routinely standing room only. From the very first session on the first day of the show to the last panel at the end of the event, these sessions have been attracting crowds of people. Because Printerverse sessions are live streamed, printers can ping their team members and provide them with a link so they can listen in. Other educational programs in the Learning Experience Theater, the Idealliance Theater, vendor booths, and the paid programs have been rich in content and participation.

The Show Floor

This year’s Print event opened on a Sunday when the Bears, Cubs, and White Sox were all scheduled to play. This created a number of logistical challenges, so none of the exhibitors were particularly surprised that the foot traffic at the trade show was a bit lighter. Regular attendees of the event have commented that the floor feels smaller, and we noticed some notable holes in the exhibitor lineup.

Table 1: Top 10 Print 2017 Vendors by Booth Size




Konica Minolta/MGI




Standard Finishing












Duplo USA


Muller Martini

As was the case during the previous Print event, Konica Minolta / MGI and Canon remained the top two vendors in terms of booth size, while Standard Finishing moved up a few notches to capture the third place spot. These top three vendors in terms of booth size were also notable for how they brought their stories to the floor. Standard, with Hunkeler and Horizon demonstrations, attracted printers who wanted to see finishing in action. Konica Minolta and Canon both brought talk tracks that were designed to empower—printers were encouraged to share their pain points and form partnerships to solve problems.

Although Xerox and HP moved down a bit in terms of booth size, both vendors came equipped with a wide variety of solutions to demonstrate. Capturing the sixth place spot in terms of booth size, Ricoh embraced a completely new approach during Print 2017. To view the company’s entire portfolio, visitors also had to visit the Avanti and MarcomCentral booths. Fujifilm and Screen, both new entrants into the top 10, came in at 7th and 8th, respectively. Fujifilm enjoyed a higher amount of foot traffic after issuing a press release with Xerox indicating that the companies would be creating new cross-selling opportunities in the production inkjet space. Duplo, another new entrant to the top 10, secured the 9th place spot. Muller Martini was down a few slots in terms of booth size in relation to previous Print events, but it closed out the top ten. Muller Martini had a great Connex presentation that showed its commitment to the workflow side of its solutions set as well as its hardware offerings. With smaller booth footprints during Print 2017, KBA, EFI, and Bell & Howell were knocked out of the top 10.

One trend became more obvious at this year’s event—a number of vendors who didn’t have booths were seen walking the show floor with logoed apparel and business cards. Some had made arrangements to occupy space in partner booths. Finding ways to stay visible and relevant can be a challenge when marketing budgets are constrained, but this is a good solution. Given this trend, perhaps show organizers should consider offering companies a “license to participate” that grants them permission to perform walk-around marketing for a fee.

For those of you who are wondering about the “Must See Ems” award winners, all of the details are available at http://www.mustseeems.com. This page also includes a link to the webinar that talks through all of the winners. It’s a great resource for catching up on the latest industry innovations!

The Bottom Line

The Print event is a valuable industry touchpoint that has made great strides to marry world-class education (free and paid) with a trade show format, and this year’s event was no exception. Since so many people were impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas and the Southeast, it would be rather unfair to make a specific declaration about whether this year’s show has grown or declined in terms of attendees. The organizers should count Print 2017 as a success, but it is always important to continue seeking innovative approaches for bringing people together!


Leveraging more than three decades as an evangelist for technology in communication, InfoTrends’ Pat McGrew uses her technical and marketing background to lead the industry toward optimized business process and information workflows. She has worked with companies to help them define their five-year plans, audited workflow processes, and developed sales team interventions and education programs. Working with customers and their clients, she educates the industry in production workflows to promote effective communication. McGrew is the Co-Author of 8 industry books, editor of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge, and a regular writer in the industry trade press.


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