When we talked about marketing services five years ago, the focus was on variable data and creating a personalized URL that linked to a landing page with pre-populated information. Although these capabilities are still important, today’s customers are seeking more. They want a strategic partner that will help them with their customer communications strategy.
Next month, the annual SGIA Expo heads to its West Coast home at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Two of this year’s big topics are garment decoration and 3D printing—and it turns out they are not mutually exclusive. Here’s a preview of this year’s show.
Marketers face many obstacles when communicating with customers. Reaching customers is more difficult than ever before, and marketers often struggle to determine the right media and message. This article explores how Quad/Graphics is helping marketers and publishers capitalize on print’s ability to complement and connect with other media channels.
E-commerce has been running at the rate of 15% annual growth for many years, but is just 8% of retail sales. That seems tiny in relation to what we've seen happen to print promotions like catalogs and direct mail, and the rise of zombie or troubled shopping malls. The problem is that big ticket items, like autos, raise the size of retail sales. Those items may be researched online, but their actual purchase is not made until it is transacted at a car dealer. Restaurant purchases are also a distorting issue in the data.
This chart explains it a little better. E-commerce sales is at the bottom (red line). In the second quarter, it was just short of $100 billion. The blue line is retail sales less vehicles and parts. The green line has food service sales deducted. The black line had e-commerce sales deducted, and shows retail sales through traditional channels. Those sales through older channels are lower than they were at the start of the recession. All of the growth in non-auto and non-restaurant retail for the last decade has occurred in e-commerce channels.
At an industry analyst/journalist summit held early this month, Canon unveiled its “One Canon” approach to the business, further integrating Canon U.S.A. Business Group, Canon Solutions America and Canon Information & Imaging Solutions to provide a seamless customer experience. WhatTheyThink Senior Editor Cary Sherburne also interviewed Canon Americas Chairman & CEO and Senior Managing Director of Canon Inc. Joe Adachi during the event.
Web-to-Print isn’t for the printer; it is a self-service option for your customers so that ordering from you is more convenient. Customer preference is strongly in favor of self-service options for virtually all business processes, print is no exception.
The Printing Industries Alliance hosted an all-day drupa recap at Manhattan’s Club 101. Among the day’s presentations and panel discussions was an extensive conversation about the current state of wide-format graphics and opportunities in the market for commercial printers.
There are signs of economic slowdown despite what cable's talking heads say. The disparity of consumer prices and printing prices help explain the forces of consolidation and why print businesses need to have a constant review of their costs and value creation capabilies. The Australia Census folks may need to paper over a computer problem. Nothing helps improve sales more than leads, sales leads, the good leads.
Historically, marketers have had a relatively straightforward task—to fill the sales funnel and keep prospects moving through it. Marketers would place an advertisement in a newspaper, create a television commercial, or send a direct mail piece to entice consumers to come into their stores to make a purchase. Times have changed.
Going to live industry events is a great opportunity on many levels – get out of working in your business and focus on working on your business. Building relationships with peers and vendors is critical to your future success, live events are where these relationships are cemented.
It’s no surprise that Lindenmeyr has recently announced that it had acquired Graphic Paper, a paper distribution company based on Long Island, New York. According to The Target Report, there was significant M&A activity in the paper industry during 2015, of which seven transactions involved the acquisition of formerly family-owned distributors of printing papers.
Printers from around the globe flock to drupa every four-years to see the latest innovations. The highlights of these introductions have already been well-covered by our respected colleagues in great detail. However, the drupa summaries to date do not provide Service Providers with insight into the one key question that every service provider is asking, “How do we feed the beast?” That is, if I make the leap to digital printing, or wish to expand my presence, how do I ensure a profitable stream of work that will result in a return on my investment?
There is little disagreement that smartphones and other digital devices are having a disruptive impact on businesses as well as consumers on a global basis. There is no question that today’s mobile addiction represents a tremendous opportunity for service providers. This article explores how savvy service providers are supporting clients in their drive to reach customers.
Since January 2013, the number of production employees in commercial printing establishments has grown slightly, and is up +0.7%, from 307,700 employees to 310,000. Other employees, which are mainly administrative including sales, are down -8.1%, from 145,000 to 133,300.
Printers get frustrated with complex software solutions, this frustration often results in the purchase of additional complex software solutions. Don’t rush to buy your way out of the challenge – it might be more effective to learn your way out of it by doubling down on your commitment to the software you already have.
Hi-tech inkjet company Xaar makes inroads into US industrial printing market with acquisition of pad printing company, 4over acquires another trade printer, Nationwide Argosy divests last operating company, newspapers consolidate, corrugated segment is active and more.
The Paper Converting Machine Company is North America’s only remaining manufacturer of CI flexo presses. It’s also distinguished by the humanistic style of its leadership—a management philosophy that cherishes employees as family members.
Nothing is ever what it seems, and that goes for last week's employment report (again). Ripples of consolidation are seen in printing employment data. There's growth in the advertising and design markets, and pain in publishing. Dr. Joe puts GDP and printing shipments into historical context. The iPhone is a means to explore the topic of trade. No, Dr. Joe's not trading in his iPhone.
In data released by the US Department of Commerce, commercial printing shipments for June 2016 were down -$58 million compared to last year (-0.8%). On an inflation-adjusted basis, shipments were down -$130 million (-1.8%).
Today’s customers are adept multi-taskers who are capable of using multiple devices simultaneously. This means that marketers need new ways to cut through the clutter and get their messages across. This article explores techniques for delivering relevant data-driven content to effectively reach target audiences.
The NASDAQ had a good month, rebounding by 6.5% last month. Compared to last year at this time, the NASDAQ is up +0.6%, which is a negative return compared to inflation (less inflation it is -0.5% because the CPI is +1.1%).
Customers come to printers to solve communication challenges. Transactional customers get their specific challenges solved. Transaction print is a tough business these days. Printers who inquire about and look to solve bigger picture challenges develop partners with their customers, moving above the transactional level.
The annual multi-year revision of US GDP data was released on Friday. The new data reflect more complete reporting of the thousands of data series that are used in the calculation of GDP and less reliance on estimated data. The revisions cover GDP from 2013 to the present reporting.
Officially launched on July 6, Pokémon Go is a mobile application that is sweeping the nation. This article explores how the app promises to expand the opportunity for Augmented Reality, and also highlights a few other recent examples of the technology.
A way of judging the health of the economy is to calculate the inflation-adjusted sales of all of the companies in the S&P 500 and divide it by the total number of public shares. This index should have a natural upward bias. S&P 500 companies are very large, and acquire or merge with other companies, many of which are outside of the 500 companies. Buybacks of stock, which has been a trend of note these last five or so years, reduce the number of shares, or slow the growth in shares, reduce the denominator, again, giving it an upward bias. Instead, this measure has suffered. It peaked in 2007, and has yet to surpass that level. This means that corporate profits, which have generally been good (though slowing lately) have been managed by refinancing of debt to lower interest rates and reductions in costs and expenses. Those better profits are not the result of increased revenues. Slow, sluggish economic growth is reflected in these figures, and is a reminder that one should not look only to GDP as an indicator of the true health of the private sector.
The recent move by the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT), to ask for a raise is leading by example for women of all ages. Their performance from top to bottom has been exemplary, on and off the field, and for them, this would be a performance-based raise. As it turns out, simply “asking” requires the courage to work against how we’ve been socialized to behave as females.
What’s the printing business like in Barbados? Highly competitive, according to COT Holdings’ Nigel Worme. Learn how this innovative company is investing in the future of its business with a brand-new HP Indigo 10000 in this article sponsored by HP.
Release liners and specialty tapes may not be the highest-profile segments of labeling, but their applications span a surprisingly wide range of commercial and industrial end-uses. A recent conference in Vienna underscored their role and importance.
The first half of 2016 is in the books. How is the industry faring thus far compared o last year? Our new Economics and Research Center report looks at the latest economic, technological, and cultural trends affecting the industry.
An Olgivy & Mather executive discovers print. We need to discover it, too, looking at print through the eyes of our clients and prospects. It's not that print is dead or not dead, there is a generation of media buyers for whom print is not alive. This ad exec's comments are vital in understanding how to make print relevant and, surprisingly, new.
Many marketers are turning to color and personalization to create pieces with strong visual appeal that prompt consumers to take action. This article cites recent InfoTrends research to explore the effects of color and personalization.
Arizona-based large format printer bluemedia has taken a unique approach to workflow that is serving them well, making it possible to efficiently produce large and small projects – including all of the Super Bowl graphics.
The demand for packaging is growing everywhere, but the growth is far from being uniform or monolithic. As always, consumer trends and preferences dictate which packaging formats will gain the most market share.
OSHA’s latest injury and illness recordkeeping rule is now on the books. Now is the time to review your records and safety policies and make sure they are accurate and compliant with. SGIA’s Rick Hartwig walks us through the new rule and requirements and what they mean for print businesses.
A new book by former HP Executive Dieter Legat is a how-to guide for getting to operational excellence. Surf the Waves of Opportunity: Lead your business to operational excellence with five things done right, draws on Legat’s many years of operational and consulting experience to provide a working model that can be used in any business.
Dot-com era company, Internet Brands, with backing from KKR, invests in Fodor’s travel guides and commits to maintain print editions, Transcontinental builds flexible packaging division with third US acquisition, Weyerhaeuser completes next step of exit from paper business, ALJ Regional bolts Color Optics onto portfolio company Phoenix Color and more.
When used effectively, B2B social media marketing can be an essential avenue for building awareness. It can also establish you as a thought leader and act as a mechanism for creating an ongoing dialogue with customers. This article explores what social media techniques B2B firms are using, as well as why and how they are being used.
Say what? Mainstream media is reporting that the two are in talks, and all this in the middle of Breaking Up Is Hard to Do for both companies. Xerox responded to an email inquiry early this morning with this: “All we are willing to share at this point is that we don’t comment on market speculation.” Expected. RR Donnelley has always been extremely close to the vest even when the topic is not material, so there wasn’t any point in reaching out there. But we do have our feelers out to see what we can pick up.
Web-to-Print software is sold to printing companies. Yet, the primary users of web-to-print solutions are a printing company's customers. This situation is the cause of many issues with the success of web-to-print programs. We have three perspectives at work (only one really matters).
At drupa 2016, HP Indigo announced its largest deal ever – 25 HP Indigo 12000s to go to photo specialty printer Shutterfly. This is notable not only for the size of the agreement but for the fact that all 25 units are to be installed over the summer in order to be ready for peak production in the 4th quarter – a monumental task.
3D printing was one of six focused areas at drupa 2016. Most printing operations are probably wondering how this can apply to their businesses. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne has some ideas to share that will shed light on the subject.
A master printer, a consultant, and now, the leader of Heidelberg’s Prinect workflow software business, Anthony Thirlby has a framework for process automation that he says can transform every printing plant.
Commercial printing's workforce reflects consolidation and leaner management. Last week's employment data was so haphazard it looks suspiciously like a dart board was involved. The USPS still needs to be Spooner-fed. If this all sounds confusing, perhaps it's time for an IRL with Dr. Joe.
This year’s FESPA Wrap Cup Master Jim Miller started in vehicle graphics at the age of 15, applying screen printed decals to his father’s Little Debbie truck. Today, Miller Decals installs vehicle graphics and other types of displays for more than 600 customers around the country.
The relationship sell that worked perfectly fine just a few years ago isn’t good enough anymore. Many sales managers face a common pitfall—they fail to define the skills that are required before determining a strategy. This article discusses the six capabilities are essential for selling successfully in today’s market.
This chart shows the Fed's balance sheet in the format known as the St. Louis Adjusted Monetary Base. Prior to the doubling of that balance sheet, it was growing at the annual rate of 6%, which was basically comprised of the long term rates of 1% for population growth, 2% for inflation, and 3% for economic growth.
The biggest mistake in software decisions is relegating the discussion down to the feature level. The feature is a potential solution to an often ill-defined problem which may or may not be relevant to your business.
US commercial printing shipments for May16 were $7.37 billion, the highest level in current dollars for the month since 2013. For the first five months of 2016, shipments are up approximately +$476 million in current dollars (+1.4%) and up +$79 billion after inflation (+0.2%)
For journalists, drupa means a press conference marathon. Most of these conferences have great content, and it is important to be able to ask questions of executives during these sessions to be able to bring the most accurate and important news to our readers. In this post, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne highlights four press conferences that are deserving of special recognition.
In New York City, industry members who care passionately about education have given nearly $700,000 in scholarship grants to students of graphic communications—all without overhead expenses or strings attached.
Despite occasional clouds on the horizon, there is no better place than drupa to get a first hand sense of the continuing importance and scale of the printing industry. The baton has passed from the offset press manufacturers to the digital printer manufacturers, with HP having replaced Heidelberg as anchor tenant and champion of print at drupa 2016.
Each year, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) compiles hundreds of relevant industry stats and facts for publication in its Statistical Fact Book. The publication culls stats from over 60 leading research sources and marketing experts. This article outlines some of the key data points from the 2016 DMA Statistical Fact Book that PSPs should take notice of.
US real GDP for Q1-2016 had its third and final revision in this reporting cycle, and was +1.1% on an annualized basis compared to Q4-2015. Q1 had been reported as +0.5% in its advance report, +0.8% in the preliminary report, and now as +1.1%. Real GDP remains very low compared to the post-WW2 +3.3% rate.
If sales isn’t involved, your business-to-business (B2B) web-to-print project is going to fail. Web-to-print projects aren’t about features (solutions), they are all about solving the right customer challenges.
Last week, the polls were wrong and Brexit rattled the markets. But the people most worried were central planning bureaucrats who wonder how to make sure it never happens again. The number of business establishments and microbusinesses are still growing. Durable goods orders send another recession signal. It’s another week of mixed and mixed up signals, something economists like because it makes them look busy.
By all accounts, drupa 2016 was an amazing show for both exhibitors and attendees. In this article, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne highlights some of the important trends coming out of the show, including drivers bringing Industry 4.0 – the fourth industrial revolution – to print.
Marketers understand that direct mail is one of the most powerful ways to communicate with current customers, especially when it comes to new customer acquisition and reactivating dormant accounts. The USPS’s recently announced 2017 Postal Promotions are designed to help direct mailers maximize the value of the communications that enter the mailstream.
The Fed’s own data probably caused them to have a more dour outlook about the economy. The chart shows that US industrial production started slowing at the end of 2014 and has been in outright contraction since Fall 2015.
In many instances, predictive analytics is discussed in reference to improving marketing and/or sales performance. However, numerous industries today are benefiting from the use of predictive analytics to improve operational efficiency.
The business of printing labels and packaging is changing with almost unnerving speed. Made reassuringly clear at drupa was the fact that new technologies for label and packaging production can give printers the capabilities they must have.
Heidelberg is already a champion of offset press manufacturing, but the firm demonstrated that it was equally serious about helping its customers make the transition to digital at this year’s drupa event. This article explores how Heidelberg is promoting itself as a solutions-oriented service provider that can productively and efficiently support customers in the digitization of their business models.
Advertising agency had a much better first quarter than last year, up by nearly $3.9 billion on an inflation-adjusted basis (+16.5%) according to the most recent Quarterly Services Survey. Advertising revenues had slipped in 2014 and 2015, in similar pattern to the decline in durable goods and other manufacturing orders and shipments.
The chart shows that magazine advertising has gone up by more than 20% since 2010, but it's hard to know how much might have been bundled in those prices. Pricing reports sent to the Bureau of Labor Statistics are supposed to be in constant units, but it's hard to determine those in service environments, and it's hard to quantify a wink or a nod in an advertising agreement.
CCL Industries’ establishes international niche positions acquiring label printers at a steady pace, Oliver Printing transitions to carton printing and forms platform company for Pfingsten, M&A activity resumes in commercial printing segment, Dex Media files “Chapter 33”, and more.
Many printing companies attended drupa 2016 to understand the latest industry innovations that would increase business and improve profitability. The vendors that participated in this year’s event were focused on demonstrating applications that expanded margins and helped service providers identify new markets and opportunities. This article explores just some of the ways that the industry continues to bring new value to print.
The changes in the media markets led to the declines in magazines, catalogs, newspaper inserts, and many of the products produced by large printing organizations. For years, these companies were giants in the industry, but recently this sector has been restructuring through consolidations. Writedowns in goodwill and for closed plants have cut the profits of these organizations.
The profits before taxes of US commercial printers rebounded in the first quarter. Profits for the quarter are estimated at $1.37 billion, the highest level since the third quarter of 2013, when they were $1.42 billion adjusted for inflation. Profits were $810 million for the first quarter of 2015, making this a significant turnaround.
Things are not what they seem. Streaking was not good in the 1970s, it’s definitely not good on presses, but streaking is great when it’s a growth streak in printing shipments. Unfortunately, the latter has ended, so let’s start a new one. The employment report was bad but that made interest-rate worriers happy. There’s nothing like getting statistically giddy over the numerical misfortune of others. Maybe they need to find a niche like a very happy Vancouver printer did.
The yellow box is glowing again. You sense it as soon as you enter the Kodak booth at Drupa 2016. It is the most creative booth I have seen in my eleven Drupas. Every product and service is showcased. Customer samples abound. It is Disneyland for printing geeks.
Just two days into drupa 2016, HP Indigo has announced two large deals: Cimpress and Shutterfly. Combined with some other smaller transactions, the company has already chalked up sales of about 50 HP Indigo Series 4 presses, with likely more to come, making this an exciting show for the company. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Indigo General Manager Alon Bar-Shany to get the details.
The overriding message for drupa 2016 is that inkjet is now ready for prime time across a range of applications and is positioned to displace key conventional printing processes. This article provides a brief overview of the factors that will drive the expansion of the inkjet market during the drupa event and beyond.
The first estimate of Q1-2016 GDP was +0.5%, and that was revised up slightly to +0.8%. The concerns about recession are being reduced lately with some better economic news that show the economy on its sluggish pattern of sub-par growth in the +2% range, well below the post-WW2 average of +3.3%. As noted many times, there are numerous economic indicators that have yet to reach their pre-recession levels. Since this pattern has been so long in duration, even non-money denominated statistics, such as employment, have to be adjusted by population growth to discern true underlying levels. The chart shows Real GDP on a more conservative year-to-year basis as reported and with the volatile effects of inventory changes removed. The economy still seems to be digesting some long-term inventory rebalancing, some of which is related to global currency and other economic issues. The slowdown of the first quarter still seems to be limited to the first six weeks of the year. At the time of this writing, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow estimate of Q2-2016 is at +2.5%. While that is a disappointing level, it is consistent within the lackluster level of economic growth that has come to be known these past years as “new normal.” Since 2011, real GDP has averaged only 2%. The difference in the average may not seem a lot, but a 2% annual growth rate will result in an economy doubling in size in 39 years; at 3.3%, it doubles almost 16 years sooner.
A Product Workflow is a term I use in web-to-print projects; it defines the different offerings you enable online through self-service user interface. Defining terms is critically important to any project, product workflows is one of the key terms to every web-to-print project.
Although some will always question the value of tradeshows, these events are generally worthwhile endeavors. As we head into drupa 2016, this article evaluates some of the unique benefits that tradeshows like drupa can offer to exhibitors and attendees alike.
Nobody ever said that the sheetfed offset equipment market is easy to do business in. But RMGT, a partnership between two of Japan’s best known press manufacturers, thinks it has what it takes to make the most of the opportunities that the market still holds.
Department stores are still having problems. Their year/year growth rate has been negative for more than a decade. E-commerce sales are maintaining a 15% growth rate. At that rate, they double every five years. The last peak in growth for retail sales excluding motor vehicles was in late 2011, and that rate, unadjusted for inflation, has slowed to the 2% range. Retail sales are a function of household income, and their costs, and they remain sluggish as median household income has still not reached the level it was at the beginning of the recession. In the meantime, shopping malls, the department stores that anchor them, and mall owners are having problems. A Weekly Standardarticle about Amazon has some insights into it. The downslide of brick and mortar retail stores and malls can create collection problems for printers who sell to them, but there are changes underway that might hold some opportunities for those printers who seek them. Developers are using mall complexes for new buildings that include office space and even hospitals and hockey rinks. There are also new efforts to treat the shopping experience not just as a matter of location, but holistically to include all digital touchpoints inside and outside the mall. How will much of this be communicated? It will often require signage, working closely with store owners and local mall management. Those printers, attuned to the nature of communications logistics and data management, can find opportunities there.
Print is a communication challenge solution. Typically, the printed product is but one part of a much larger challenge. When your sales people learn to take their “print googles” off and uncover the bigger picture challenge, they embed your company deeper into your customer’s business process and ultimately uncover more opportunities for printed products.
In this article, David looks at the current state of Xerox. The integration of Impika has produced some exciting collaboration, resulting in some new product introductions at drupa 2016, and perhaps a glimpse of the company’s future direction
drupa opens at the end of this month and while drupa has not traditionally been one of the go-to shows for wide-format printing, as wide-format has become a hot topic in the general commercial printing market, it is taking a bigger role at this year’s show.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.