The digital printing industry looks to Caslon and PODi for insights into what’s next and what will be profitable in the future. Here are a few of the exciting opportunities we see emerging plus some red flags to watch out for.

  • In the direct marketing arena, the buzz is all around cross media marketing. We’ll see integration of direct mail, email, landing pages, mobile and social media. Each media will have its place.
  • For direct mail the large mailers will continue to focus on more targeted personalized direct mail and postal savings. The new wide web color inkjet presses will enable companies to comingle mailings on the press and gain even more mailing efficiencies.
  • We’ll be hearing more about automating workflow and marketing operations. Service providers who offer processes and systems to increase efficiency and reduce cycle time will have the advantage.
  • The use of collateral management systems continues to grow as they become more flexible and begin providing expanded functionality.
  • Personalization, although it’s been around for a long time is just starting to be adopted in significant volumes by marketers.
  • Statements are shifting to color, but at the same time they are also going electronic. Transactional print volumes will decline significantly in the next 5 years.
  • Printing for packaging is complex & challenging, but as high speed digital printing improves and Brand Managers continue to see a proliferation of SKU’s we’ll see the market for digital printing for packaging grow. Print on demand, customization, personalization, reduced cycle time are all key factors. And it can’t be replaced by electronic media.
  • Printers who cannot take an order over the internet will be at a severe disadvantage. Web to print systems continue to be adopted and drive short run print.
  • Book publishers will adopt digital printing, it’s just starting. First it will be for short run color books, but eventually a very large portion of the book market will be produced on inkjet presses.
  • e-books and tablets are having an impact on print volumes, especially books. In the educational market we’ll see a large shift to electronic versions. The big issue is will kids have access? The total effect on magazine print volume is not clear yet, but it’s not looking good for print.
  • The role of catalogs is changing from an order vehicle to a way to drive traffic to an online store.
  • There’s a ton of overcapacity in the print market which needs to go away to prevent price erosion and protect profits. Unfortunately this will take time.
  • Digital inkjet technology will make good inroads into offset print volumes for direct mail and books.

Dave Erlandson is General Manager of Caslon & Co. ( ) a firm that specializes in helping companies take advantage of the new business opportunities enabled by digital printing. One of Caslon’s primary activities is to serve as the North American Affiliate for PODi, the Digital Print Initiative ( ). PODi is a leading industry association focused on developing the market for digital printing through market education and standards activities.