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Cognizant Projects +148% Growth in Fashion Designer Jobs, Highlights the Future of Work (Premium Content)

I was intrigued to read in a recent Axios newsletter that fashion designer jobs are expected to increase by +148%, according to Cognizant, a technology and business services company. I reached out to Ben Pring, who runs the company’s Center for the Future of Work, to learn more. And boy, did I learn more!


The Waning Fortunes of the Time Inc. Magazines—November 2018 M&A Activity

Meredith sells off iconic American magazine titles, Quad/Graphics acquires Periscope, PE continues love affair with labels, and more…


Digital Textiles: The Next Frontier for Commercial Printers

For the most part, commercial printers are locked out of the existing supply chain for digital textiles. This article explores the more accessible textile segments that commercial printers can participate in, including textile-based sign and display graphics and direct-to-garment.


Wide Format 2018: What Kind of Day Has It Been? (Premium Content)

What were the big trends in wide-format and specialty printing in 2018? It’s been a year of convergence and while shops that were likely to transition to wide-format have largely done so, the applications that can be produced are constantly changing, as new materials and new inks hit the market. Let’s have a look at what’s been happening.


Understanding the Software Feature Request (Premium Content)

Software is never done. It has to keep moving to stay compatible. It operates in business processes that keep changing. The consumer expectation of how fast and easy software can change is being set by some of the most valuable companies on the planet.


Data: Wide-Format Still Front and Center

Wide-format is here with a vengeance. One webinar provided a great summary of data on the growth and opportunities in wide-format graphics.


Esko—Firing on All Cylinders (Premium Content)

Esko has been the premier provider of software and hardware solutions for label and packaging prepress. Now that the market is changing, what are they doing to address these new requirements? A lot!


As Industry Convergence Continues, Xplor International and ISA Colocate Events (Premium Content)

The convergence continues: the International Sign Association and Xplor International have announced that in April 2019, the Sign Expo 2019 and XPLOR19 will colocate.  


Achieving Successful Sales in 2019

As 2018 draws to a close, you’re likely doing one of two things: focusing on meeting/exceeding your sales goals for the year or reflecting on why your goal has proven to be unreachable. In many cases, the process used to achieve the goal fails to deliver the desired results. This article explores methods for exceeding your business goals in 2019.


Print Business Differentiation (Premium Content)

What are you investing in that will result in the true differentiation of your print business? An important question in a market where many commercial printers look alike (same equipment, same sales approach, similar online tools). I think differentiation is about solving additional customer challenges that your competitors don't even know about.


In The Mail: November 2018—What You Need to Know About Postal Issues

PRC approves 2019 price increases…USPS reports $3.9 Billion loss…The Universal Postal Union reacts to U.S. withdrawal…Mailers less satisfied with USPS overall…Marketing Mail controversy continues…Next steps for Regulatory Review?


Grant Graphics’ Print & Cut Conference Offered Wide-Format 101—and 102—for Northeast Printers (Premium Content)

Earlier this month, print shop owners and managers from around the Northeast journeyed to Grant Graphics in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for a day-long program of wide-format educational sessions and equipment demonstrations.


From Hybrid Workflow to i300 White Paper Factory: Some Numbers

Thanks to some internal numbers from United Mail, we get a look inside the cost savings and QC improvements of switching from a hybrid to a Canon Solutions America VarioPrint i300 workflow.


Setting Up Estimating in Your Print MIS (Premium Content)

Your Print MIS should be your trusted system of record for your business; the estimating module is the most critical component of your Print MIS. When you implement estimating brilliantly, it provides you a healthy daily dose of ROI forever.


New Services: Are You Ready for the Domino Effect?

As you tease out the last bits of efficiency and productivity from your operations, the primary way to continue to grow your business is to add new services. The question is, which ones? How do you make smart decisions about what is best for your business? Sometimes the considerations go deeper than you might think.


InfoTrends’ Global Forecast Data Suggests Growth in Emerging Countries

United States, Western Europe, and Japan accounted for nearly two-thirds of total production printing placements in 2017. This article provides a brief overview of how global placements and print volumes are expected to shift over time.


Key Print Trends in Packaging to 2028 (Premium Content)

Smithers Pira shares its recent research that looks at the future of packaging to 2028, quantifying the overall market by packaging type and identifying the major emerging drivers of packaging market growth.


Flexo’s Transformation—It’s All About Controlling Variables (Premium Content)

Flexography is going through a renaissance. While it has been around since the late 19th century, it has never really had a role in “quality” printing, although that seems to be changing. This change is proving that it can fight off the increased use of digital printing for packaging production with better productivity and lower cost. In this article, David Zwang looks at one of the more significant changes facilitating that transformation.


Where’s the Flash Point for Cloud Software?

Although the industry has not yet hit a “flash point” that would result in the significant growth of cloud-based software solutions, there are indications that this spark may not be far away. This article explores the growth potential and lingering challenges associated with cloud software.


Personalized Video Part 2: How to Maximize Effectiveness (Premium Content)

Personalized video advertising is a relatively new marketing method empowered by the digital revolution. This article is the second in a two-part series. It explores how companies can most effectively use personalized video advertising to reach the widest share of audience.


Personalized Video Part I: Marketing for Future Generations (Premium Content)

Personalized video advertising is a relatively new marketing method empowered by the digital revolution. This article, the first in a two-part series, provides an overview of personalized video advertising and explores the role that age plays in a consumer’s acceptance of the technology.


Developing the Right Mix of Client Care (Premium Content)

Shifting consumer expectations are increasing the demand for relevant and personalized communications, so it is becoming ever more vital for print service providers to offer their clients the tools and expertise they need to compete via all channels. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends to explore how communication practices are changing.


Taking Stock of Industry Associations: Part Two (Premium Content)

Last summer, we took a look at the state of industry associationswith the goal of reminding our members about the many resources available to them to help move their businesses forward. By popular demand, we are now presenting Part Two in order to cover additional organizations that were not included in Part One. I’m sure there are still more!


Key Components of the Digital Textile Printing Industry (Premium Content)

Consumer demand and technological innovations continue to drive growth within the apparel and home décor industries. This article outlines the key components of the digital textile printing industry and highlights how mass customization is fueling the adoption of various technologies.


Inkjet Printing Builds Towards $100 Billion Market (Premium Content)

Value in the world inkjet market will rise at 9.4% across the next five years according to the latest market report The Future of Inkjet Printing to 2023 from Smithers Pira. As the worldwide print market transforms, shifts in buyer demands—short runs, versioned and personalized products—and higher quality are aligning with the capabilities of inkjet. This is making it a key focus for technology developers. Smithers’ analysis shows that across the next five years inkjet will grow, both by deepening its penetration into existing markets, and exploiting new emergent market opportunities.


Continued Innovations Drive Growth in Digital Textile Printing (Premium Content)

Consumer demand and technological innovations are driving growth in the apparel and home décor industries. This article explores some of the ongoing shifts that are occurring in the industry and considers how these shifts are affecting the digital textile market on a global basis.


Memjet’s DuraLink, One Year Later (Premium Content)

Unveiled in 2017, Memjet’s DuraLink technology appears to be catching on with OEMs. Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends believes this is due to its improvements in head life and other features, which will enable Memjet products to address high-volume applications. As DuraLink evolves, it looks poised to succeed in industrial print applications such as high-speed label and packaging printing.


Who Buys Continuous Feed Inkjet? (Premium Content)

Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends records publicly announced placements of continuous-feed inkjet printers, along with the types of PSPs that acquire these devices and the major applications they print. This article provides an overview of these placements in the past nine years by major application and vendor.


B2 Digital Saves the Day for Cut-Sheet Color (Premium Content)

Every year, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends publishes its digital printing forecast to identify placements of digital devices, installed base, print volumes, and revenues achieved. This article provides an overview of some recent top-level forecast data and also explores how new developments in a long-established market can create new opportunities while also driving print volumes.


Food Packaging Printing Set to Evolve From 2018–2023 (Premium Content)

New research from Smithers Pira highlights the future growth potential and technical challenges for printing food packaging, and how these will be realized against a backdrop of tighter focus on safety and environmental performance.


Inside Technical Textiles: The Glen Raven Story (Premium Content)

This is the second of a series of articles by Senior Editor Cary Sherburne on technical textiles—how they fit in the industry, why they are important, and interesting new developments. In this installment in the series, Sherburne shares the Glen Raven story, a 138-year-old company that has almost completely reinvented itself.


Print E-Commerce Marches On, Consumes More of Total Shipments (Premium Content)

E-commerce activities continue to ramp up in the printing industry. Thanks to the proliferation of digital printing technologies, the number of products within consumers’ reach is simply remarkable. This article explores how print service providers can take advantage of online print growth.


Graphic Arts Companies Feel the Pinch of Aluminum Tariffs (Premium Content)

Last month, the Trump Administration levied a 10% tariff on imported aluminum and a 25% tariff on imported steel. At present, the tariffs are having the biggest impact on manufacturers of aluminum lithographic plates—although that may be just the beginning. Plate manufacturers are deciding how best to respond, while industry associations are helping to fight back.


Identifying Successful Sales Practices for Print Providers (Premium Content)

Every company has a sales process. Although these processes are sometimes well-established and well-documented, this is not always the case. If you’re struggling with your sales process, this article provides a quick-start guide on performing a sales audit.


Taking Stock of Industry Associations (Premium Content)

It’s been some time since we have taken a look at the state of our industry associations. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne conducted 17 interviews in late Spring 2018 with key industry players to get an update on status and strategies. We don’t cover every organization in the industry—there are simply too many—but it gives a good overview on the organizations and resources available to help printing businesses be more successful.


Twenty Technical Innovations Set to Transform Packaging into a Sustainable Industry (Premium Content)

Smithers Pira presents the highlights of its latest study, identifying the top 20 technical innovations that will underpin a greener and more sustainable future for packaging.


Pricing for Digital Part 3: Challenges in Developing Comprehensive Pricing Plans (Premium Content)

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The final in a three-part series, this article explores the challenges that providers must overcome when developing comprehensive customer communications pricing plans.


The Final Column: The Security Guard Will Take Your Badge and Escort You to the Lobby

Back in 2002, Dr. Joe agreed to do a regular column for WhatTheyThink for “only one year and no more”...for 15 years. This farewell column explains how it started, behind-the-scenes intrigue, the problems, and why it turned out the way it did. And then…he explains the exciting adventures ahead.


Technology and the Changing Face of Flexographic Printing for Packaging (Premium Content)

Technological advances and market trends are forever changing the face of flexographic printing. Smithers Pira values the global flexo print market in 2013 at $147 billion, with a forecast for 2.3% CAGR. Key to this growth are packaging-related industries including corrugated board packaging, flexible packaging, bags and sacks, and others.


Pricing for Digital Part 2: Hurdles in Demonstrating Value through Services (Premium Content)

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The second in a three-part series, this article examines the hurdles that providers encounter in the market as they attempt to demonstrate value through their services.


Pricing for Digital Part 1: Overcoming Obstacles on the Path to Profitable Pricing (Premium Content)

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The first in a three-part series, this article explores the hurdles that providers encounter in the market and considers the approaches they have developed as they attempt to establish profitable pricing models.


Learn from Print Sales Losses (Premium Content)

When you lose a sales deal, how does your company react? Do you have a culture of learning from losses or do you have a culture of blaming? A sales loss is a treasure trove of learning—successful companies evaluate and adjust for their next pitch.


What Do These 5 “Mail Trends” Tell Us?

These five mail trends from DirectMail 2.0 raise interesting questions about how we are (or are not) proving the value of print and the opportunities that are lost when we don’t.


Breaking Into the “European” Print Market: Understand Geographies and Cultures (Premium Content)

Morten Reitoft of INKISH.TV kicks off a new series of editorials offering advice for U.S. companies seeking to enter the European print market. In this first installment, Reitoft stresses that “Europe” is not a single, monolithic market.


Web-to-Print is a Tool for Your Customers (Premium Content)

Prepress automation, streamlining your customer service department, and reducing the time between inquiry and jobs getting on press – these are common feature requests for web-to-print systems. They are all about you (the printer) – web-to-print isn’t about you! Web-to-print is for your customers!


In The Mail: May 2018 - What You Need to Know About Postal Issues (Premium Content)

NPF Report: USPS puts the spotlight on Informed Delivery & Informed Visibility; PMG Brennan speaks of “shared purpose”…BOG nominees advance…Taskforce gets August deadline…Senator proposes postal banks.


Good News Could Be a Full-Time Job, but for Most Economists It’s Only Part-Time (Premium Content)

Some people say that the news is always bad, and they wish someone would report good news now and then. There is good news but no one seems to report it. You’d think that would be a full time job for someone. The economy has set a record for full time employment, and all we hear are crickets. The economy has been doing better lately in some key measures of employment, but the Fed is scaring markets by preparing to raise rates. TINA, meet TAMA, the result of the Fed’s actions; don’t worry, we’ll explain it. The statisticians at the Commerce Department revised printing shipments data. Revising data seems to be a full time job in the Beltway. Dr. Joe clarifies it all for one nearly last time.


Quad/Graphics Accelerated Insights: A Digital Revolution in Direct Mail Testing

Quad/Graphics has launched Accelerated Insights, a cloud-based software tool to enhance—and some might even say revolutionize—direct mail testing. This article explores the features of Accelerated Insights and describes its effects on direct mailing.


Intelligent Packaging Creates New Markets for Print Industry (Premium Content)

In 2018, the combined active and intelligent packaging market value is projected to reach $5.68 billion and will continue to present new value-adding options in the future according to the latest market analysis from Smithers Pira. Read on for more highlights of Smithers Pira’s latest report.


Where Are Marketers Getting Their Data?

According to new research, marketers are increasingly investing in second- and third-party data to create 360-degree views of their customers. Are your customers doing the same? Are they prepared to compete? Read more. 


Marketing and Publishing Guru Seth Godin to Keynote PRINT 18

Seth Godin, world-renowned entrepreneur and marketing and publishing guru, will be keynoting this September’s PRINT 18. Cary Sherburne spoke to him about the changing role of print in today’s marketing and publishing landscape. Read on for some insights from one of today’s thought leaders.


New Trends in Color Management (Premium Content)

Managing color in today’s ever-changing environment has long been a challenge for printers. No two scanners, monitors, or printers will reproduce colors identically, making it necessary to implement specialized color management systems to achieve an exact match across devices. This article explores some of the options that are available for printers.


Xerox: Innovation and/or Investment (Premium Content)

Xerox has just introduced the very interesting Xerox® IridesseTM Production Press into the global market, the latest electrophotographic machine in its product lineup. With all of the media hype surrounding the Xerox Fujifilm merger, this new press shows how well Xerox and Fuji Xerox can work together to create technology that brings innovation and value to the market and the company, something you may not be hearing in the distracting news streams. Read on for more.


The Pre-Mortem to a Print MIS Transition (Premium Content)

If you’re on your way to embarking on a Print MIS transition, then you need to sit down and pretend the whole thing was a spectacular failure. Once you’re in that uncomfortable place—work backwards and build a plan to prevent its untimely death.


InPrint Reflections: Moving the (Digitally Printed) Goalposts

A major theme of last week’s InPrint Industrial Inkjet Conference in Chicago was the emerging distinction between two specific kinds of industrial printing: printing as part of a larger manufacturing process and what we have often called specialty printing. The conference explored the differences between them, where the growth areas are, and what the drivers of that growth are. Read on for some reflections on the conference.


A Big Focus on Small Print Shops (Premium Content)

Smaller print shops face many of the same challenges as larger shops, so the need for a single system of record to manage the business is just as critical. Until recently, the only solution was purchasing an expensive print MIS with integration capabilities and pay for professional services to set up the connectivity to the other software solutions. This article explores how things are beginning to change for the better for small print shops.


Your Customer’s Workflow Challenges are Your Opportunities (Premium Content)

There is a conflux of pressures on businesses today: increase speed, personalize products, respond to the market faster, localize the messaging, and do all this with less people on a tighter budget. Read on for tips on how to cope with these challenges.


E-commerce Is a $20 Billion Market for Corrugated Packaging—and Growing Fast (Premium Content)

New research from Smithers Pira points to major growth for corrugated in serving the fast-developing e-commerce packaging markets. Read on for more detail.


Direct-to-Shape: An Intriguing Corner of Digital Print for Packaging (Premium Content)

Within the direct-to-shape printing for packaging market, digital printing is generally growing as a complement to offset, flexo, and other analog presses that print labels, folding cartons, flexible packaging, and corrugated. This article explores the direct-to-shape market by answering some basic questions about it.


In The Mail: April 2018 – What You Need to Know About Postal Issues (Premium Content)

President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order forming a Task Force to evaluate operations and finances of the U.S. Postal System…The PRC Scolds the USPS for performance shortfalls…Promo standstill…No returns needed.


"Do I Have to Go Through an Account Manager?" (Premium Content)

Our important customers get our attention and our dedicated resources. What happens when customers prefer online tools over dedicated resources? Read on to find out.


A Significant Speed Boost and Cost Reduction with Hybrid Production Inkjet for Flexible Packaging (Premium Content)

UTECO Group, in conjunction with Kodak, has released and will be installing the first Sapphire EVO aqueous-based production hybrid inkjet press for flexible packaging. This newly designed press significantly raises the bar on production speed while lowering operational costs compared with existing digital solutions.


The Migration to Digital Continues... But Printed Customer Communications Remain Popular (Premium Content)

The results from InfoTrends’ annual transactional communications survey uncovered some surprising shifts in opinions about paper-based and electronic communications. This article cites recent survey data to explore how printed and electronic bills and statements continue to coexist in the customer communications market.


Lost in the Economy: Patience (Premium Content)

“Staying the course” does not refer to golf, but might be an answer to “Aren’t we there yet?” When all of your economic models are based on something old, and not something new, that could make you blue, and confused. Since we’re now talking about weddings of the business kind, the Amazon-USPS wedding has gotten a lot of press lately. Don’t they take such a pretty picture together? Well, maybe not. The relationship solves one problem and creates another. No, not the in-laws again… what do they want now?


Rarity: Another Reason (Good) Personalization Works

Despite all the talk about personalized mailings, how often do any of us really receive relevant data-driven direct mail? Is the rarity of truly personalized mail part of what makes it effective?


Print, Personalization, and Media Integration: Delivering Results to SMBs (Premium Content)

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) offer a great deal of opportunity for print service providers. This article highlights key communication trends and opportunities in the SMB market, as identified in Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends’ recent research study In Search of Business Opportunities: Finding the Right Prospects.


To Robotize or Not? The Real Numbers Behind Production Chain Productivity (Part 2 of 2) (Premium Content)

In the second of this two-part feature on production chain productivity, guest-writer Henrik Christiansen of Graphic Robotics addresses the quantitative aspects of automation, and how the robotization of finishing processes in the appropriate production environments can greatly reduce labor costs and improve productivity. Read on.


In Praise of Data: How PRIMIR Industry Research Can Improve Your Business (Premium Content)

The Association for Print Technologies (APTech), through its PRIMIR Research Unit and Market Data programs, provides a wealth of woefully underutilized industry research that can be of great practical use to all the links in the print supply chain—not just suppliers and vendors but print service providers, as well. Read on to see how.


The Value of Platforms: A Revolution is Coming! (Premium Content)

All printers are seeking ways to embrace a business and production infrastructure that enables them to add new tools as needed and depreciate tools that no longer serve a need. This article provides a brief overview of the platforms that facilitate these skills as well as a specific example of the Chili Publisher platform.


The Customer Experience Potential of Critical Communications (Premium Content)

Today’s empowered consumers are conditioned to expect instant access to information, goods, and services. These expectations are forcing businesses to reconsider their marketing strategies. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends highlighting the importance of a positive customer experience in driving revenue growth and improving customer satisfaction.


The Changing Role of Print Sales Representatives (Premium Content)

Your sales team must do more than sell. They must be good learners (that means less talking, more listening, and more curiosity about how they can help their customers). Your customer’s time is valuable. When they give you their time they are voting on your value.


In the Mail: March 2018 - What You Need to Know About Postal Issues (Premium Content)

An industry coalition of more than 50 mailing stakeholders expresses opposition to the ratemaking plan proposed by the Postal Regulatory Commission; the USPS rolls out an electronic payment system, reduces truck mileage, continues to lose money. Read on for this month’s postal system update.


Developing Sales Talent Requires Coaching! (Premium Content)

When it comes to managing—and more importantly coaching and developing sales talent—the skills that are required are different than the ones that make a good salesperson. This article highlights research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends to explore how high-growth sales organizations develop the best talent.


Are You Distinguishing Between Macro and Micro Conversions?

Are you helping your clients track both micro and macro conversions? If not, you’re losing opportunities to understand not just what works and what doesn’t, but why.


Retail, Transportation, and Manufacturing Central to Hot Future of Thermal Print Supply (Premium Content)

New Smithers Pira Research forecasts strong growth for thermal printing, identifying retail, transport, and manufacturing as the top three applications for thermal printing equipment and supplies. Read on for an overview of the thermal printing market from 2018 to 2023.


Conflicts, Inconsistencies, and Misrepresentations: Situation is Normal (Premium Content)

Trade tariff talk has confused the markets, but so have the recent economic data. Employment data look great, retail sales look bad, consumer confidence surges in the lowest third of households by income. Explain that, Dr. Joe! He does, and offers insight into the selection of Larry Kudlow as the President’s economic advisor. There may be no free lunches, but Dr. Joe has some free podcasts and a webinar. Get them now before someone proposes a tariff on electrons.


Latest WhatTheyThink Webinar Looked at the Current Economic Climate and Print Business Conditions

Last Wednesday, Dr. Joe Webb presented his quarterly economic conditions webinar, which included a look at the overall macroeconomic environment as well as current printing industry business conditions. Read on for a brief summary of what Dr. Webb discussed.


Emerging Technology Assessment: Personalized Video Outlook (Premium Content)

Personalized video is a popularizing tool with potential for modern customer communications strategies. The technology provides inherently engaging one-to-one audio-visual experiences, but that doesn’t mean that it’s effective independently and by default.


If You Act Like a Printer, You’ll Be Treated Like One (Premium Content)

The definition of a successful printer is changing with the times. The updated definition is forcing printers to solve more than a manufacturing challenge. For printers who refuse to move out of their comfort zone; price will be the primary subject of conversation in every sale.


What is Smart Print Manufacturing? (Premium Content)

The industry remains focused on reducing costs through automation. The next decade will be about making print manufacturing smarter as we transition to the next industrial revolution. This article discusses why it is important for all print service providers to prepare, plan, and take steps to implement their own version of Smart Print Manufacturing.


Color Inkjet Improves Business Communications (Premium Content)

The combination of more and better consumer data, the drive for personalization, and the affordability of inkjet have finally made creating higher-value communications a market reality. This article explores how IDS.com (a Doxim company) has implemented inkjet production printing technology to make messaging and color more flexible and efficient.


The State of Labels and Packaging (Premium Content)

We have a new report out, the Printing Forecast 2018, based in large part on the results of our Fall 2017 Print Business Outlook survey. There is quite a lot in the 172-page report, but here are some highlights specific to label and packaging printing. Thus far, commercial plants don't see tremendous opportunities in digital label or packaging—but that may be changing.


Highlights of the WhatTheyThink Printing Forecast 2018

WhatTheyThink’s Forecast 2018 report, by Dr. Joe Webb and Richard Romano provides detailed analysis of the most recent Print Business Outlook Survey, the latest industry economic data and macroeconomic trends, as well as industry and cultural technological trends to look out for in 2018.


Open Wide: The State of Wide-Format Printing (Premium Content)

We have a new report out, the Printing Forecast 2018, based in large part on the results of our Fall 2017 Business Conditions Outlook survey. There is quite a lot in the 172-page report, but here are some highlights specific to wide-format printing.


Economy Growing, Big and Small; Who Owns Our Businesses? (Premium Content)

Dr. Joe has a special message: he was wrong 15 years ago, and it worked out fine. The economy is showing improvement, and some reluctant data series are starting to be break their recession levels. Government shutdown? That won't stop them from collecting taxes! Many of the economic indicators show a strong Q4-2017 GDP report is in the offing - but the shutdown may prevent that data release. Dr. Joe warns of a data issues ahead - if small business booms, it may not be recognized right away. But there's one difference in big and small that's showing up right now in printing profits data.


Dr. Joe: A Potpourri of Workers, Taxes, Profits, Rates, Digits, and More (Premium Content)

The fifteenth year of Dr. Joe at WhatTheyThink comes to a close, and he’s got a lot of topics (and some charts, of course) to get off his mind. Tax reform, recruitment, hours online, profits, consolidation...you name it, it’s probably mentioned in this year’s final column. Oh, and we forgot Bitcoin...that’s here too.


Tax Reform May be Near; Only Dr. Doom Would Celebrate a Recession Anniversary

What’s more important than tax reform? A tenth anniversary! It’s been ten years since the recession started. What does one get as a gift? We’re told it’s tin or aluminum. Does that mean someone’s giving all of us litho plates? Tax reform is a much better gift for the celebration. The reform is flawed, but better than nothing. There are some signs that the economy is improving for real, and Dr. Joe has his unique twist to offer.


The Truth is Not Always in the Headline

Look at the shiny object, and please don’t peek behind the curtain. It’s a data game that’s played by many, and it starts with a good headline, and sometimes includes a great chart. A rising stock market without increasing revenue? Declining e-book sales that conveniently ignore niches that are contrary? And then there’s one for the record: the LP record. A pretty chart makes that story convincing, but only if you forget history. Don’t fall into that vinyl LP trap: there’s a hole in the middle of it.


Fed Change Means Fed Same, Shipments Tumble, Economy Muddles, and Can I Interest You in the Best Leftovers Ever? (Premium Content)

We have a new chair at the Fed who is likely to stay the course, no matter how damaging that is. This month’s shiny object is the unemployment rate; don’t look at how it got there. A kerfuffle and a scuffle, and it all happened because of used equipment, which means the once mighty aren’t any more. And printing shipments… can we talk about something else?


The Fed, Economic Data, and Other Topics (Premium Content)

It’s an interesting time at the Fed, especially when Dr. Yellen’s turn is expiring and one of Dr. Joe’s favorite candidates is in the running. There’s a lot of claims about jobless claims, and the claims are not really what they’re claiming. Labels and wrappers? That’s a tiny niche market in the big printing industry. Now 1 in 8 commercial printing dollars are in that specialty.


High Winds Uproot Data (Premium Content)

The hurricanes affected not just the lives of the people who experienced them, but also affected basic economic data. And yes, you can be employed and unemployed at the same exact time, in the same exact government department. The data seem strange, but the long term trends stayed the same. That’s why we call them long term trends. And August’s printing shipments? Don’t ask! There’s a video from a distinguished leader that’s worth seeing… and worth pondering… about print as a medium and you as a business.


Are Your Strategic Assumptions Really True? (Premium Content)

There are many “common wisdom” assumptions in the industry. One that refuses to die relates to print volume being related to GDP. The data are very clear; it’s technology that plays a bigger factor than macroeconomics. The other is that the effects of digital media will come to an end or will slow down. That one is obviously false; Moore’s Law may not be what it used to be, but we see how technology gets faster, cheaper, and more convenient every day. Bad assumptions lead to bad strategy, lead to dismissing opportunities that should be pursued, and reduce the urgency to act. Don’t let that happen to you or your business.


The Old Guard and the Economy Limps into Print 17; a Different Industry Takes Charge (Premium Content)

Who didn’t envy or aspire to become a big, high profile printing business? The print business has been turned on its head, where small and medium businesses are outperforming their much bigger counterparts. The latter are still dealing with the relevance of legacy processes and assets while trying to bring new focus to rich digital media interactions to static formats like print. There’s no doubt: The Third Wave is being released at a pivotal moment. While the industry is churning, there are warning signs in the economy and for content creation markets. Dr. Joe is getting that 2008 feeling: he doesn’t like it.


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