Sales teams want leads, but they also want to know what the state of the market is. There is a sense that having data in hand will make the selling process easier. It might, but it might lead you astray, especially if it reflects a market of the past. Pat McGrew explains how to use data effectively to plan for the future.
Today, change is happening at an unprecedented rate, and this hyper-change has become a new operating reality for businesses. Customer experience management has matured at the right time to be starkly relevant to business relationships navigating the pressures of hyper-change. Contributor Preston Herrin explains how to use a professionally designed Voice of the Customer survey to gather actionable information about your customers’ experience.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Norway.
Ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were lots of discussions on how print would be impacted and which print applications would be more or less successful. The German print industry association has not only published 2020 revenues, but has included a breakdown by main applications. European section editor Ralf Schlözer looks at real revenue data that shows how print applications fared in 2020.
David Zwang talks with Carsten Bruhn, the newly appointed president and CEO of Ricoh North America, about how the pandemic has affected Ricoh and its customers, as well as where the printing industry is going as we emerge from the year of COVID.
Does limiting your ink sound counterproductive to creating an expanded color gamut? Over-inking is a common problem seen in the printing world, and especially when it comes to printing on fabrics. Alder Color Solutions’ G7 expert and color IT specialist Bill Owen explains how this misconception can wreak havoc for printers looking to optimize their gamut.
July 2021 printing shipments came in at $6.45 billion, down from June’s $6.69 billion. Year to date, January-to-July shipments are $46.44 billion. At this point in 2020, year-to-date shipments were slightly higher at $46.83. The recovery is proving more challenging than the actual pandemic, it seems.
You’ve heard of “fast fashion,” which is bad? Now there’s “faster fashion,” which is good. Graphene-enhanced sensors allow shoes to diagnose physical and cognitive disorders. E Ink-based displays may be able to play video. Loop helps create reusable packaging. Nebraska’s Morris Press has been printing community cookbooks for decades. A new social media challenge: “beaning.” Bored ape illustration NFTs sell for $24.4 million, for some reason. A new hammer-based screwdriver for getting out corroded screws. A Japanese homebuilder develops home-office sheds for WFHers. A 24-mile NYC road race based on “The Warriors.” A Dutch “toy heist.” The Internet doesn’t exist. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Despite the constraints of the pandemic, manufacturers of digital direct-to-fabric printing solutions have been hard at work bring innovative solutions to a market which is already bouncing back. In this article, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan highlights the most important developments and product launches in this growth area.
Smart workplaces are quickly taking over more traditional offices. For our businesses to cope in an uncertain future, today’s newest technologies must be blended with the updated versions of commonplace tools like projectors and audio equipment. This article discusses some recent innovations that can help those seeking truly smart offices.
Sir Speedy franchisee CJ Sudman shares insights on operating as an essential business during the pandemic and how he and his team were able to help local schools and businesses find unique solutions to acquire necessary PPE materials.
Jennifer Matt takes an in-depth look at Liftoff, not a traditional web-to-print solution, but one that has expanded its feature set into other software areas (e.g., CMS, ERP). For example, the Liftoff product suite allows you to create content like blogs on your web-to-print solution.
WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer reports on a recent call organized by the German Printing Industry Association (BVDM) to address paper shortages and price increases. While the issues discussed were specific to the German market, the dynamics are similar throughout Europe—and likely all developed economies as well. Find out what this may mean for paper availability and pricing as we head toward 2022.
Guest contributor A.J. Titus, President of Signarama, offers some tips and strategies for taking advantage of potential growth gains in the next 12 months—and how to have some fun doing it. It all starts with creating goals.
Farmington, Maine-based Franklin Printing has a long history of leveraging technology to enhance the craft of printing. Most recently, the company has added an HP PageWide Web Press T250 HD, the first production web press to be installed in Maine, as part of its evolution into the future of print.
Two recent court cases—one in Tennessee and one in Texas—have created new wrinkles in exterior sign code regulations. Meanwhile, communities are trying to apply EMC regulations to internally illuminated signs, and authorities are returning to stricter enforcement of regulations on temporary signage that had been relaxed during the pandemic.
Back in 2015, the United Nations adopted an aggressive sustainability agenda with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth—all while tackling climate change and working to preserve the environment. Participation is voluntary and adoption has been sporadic. That led WRAP, a global sustainability charity to establish Textiles 2030, also voluntary, but aiming to transform the way the UK supplies, uses and disposes of clothing and textiles over the next 10 years. Is this a framework the textiles industry in other countries can adopt?
Operating in the printing district of lower Manhattan, close by the Twin Towers, they became inadvertent witnesses to the worst domestic attack in U.S. history. Twenty years later, the events of September 11, 2001 remain seared into their memories.
US Patent Office rules that AI cannot patent its own inventions. Restoring the all-important water jug/lamp balance in your life. Graphene is an essential part of “smart digital roads.” Making a dress out of Target bags. Rubber Band 2.0. Good Lord, Facebook is developing smart glasses. A new project documents how awful the web experience has become. Can plants talk? “Ripper,” the duck that repeatedly said “You bloody fool,” apparently. A website that turns keystrokes into jazz piano notes. Virtually perfect Tiffany lamp reproductions…as cookies. Remembering the hospitality of a Canadian town on 9/11. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
High-speed production color inkjet systems have truly revolutionized the document printing market over the past decade. Although these advancements have been clear, paper has played a quieter—yet no less important—role in the suitability of inkjet technology for various print applications. Factors like ink coverage, paper type, and running cost play a role in the future growth potential for inkjet.
M&A activity returns to pre-pandemic levels, label companies are red hot targets for PE-backed roll-ups; new national consolidator in commercial print, direct mail is steady, wide format matures; and more…
Sales is being reinvented in the age of self-service. When the customer can make a buying decision without parental supervision (aka a sales representative), you can turn marketing into a sales engine.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Finland.
There is short-term positive news for the global print equipment market. Data from the latest Smithers study—The Future of Print Equipment Markets to 2026—shows total global sales value will reach a projected $15.86 billion in 2021, a welcome response after the unprecedented disruption of 2020, when sales amounted to just $13.23 billion.
Find out where and when the best fall foliage is likely to be. Turning coal ash into fibers. “Websites from Hell.” What is the average color of the universe—and does it have a Pantone number? A graphene-enhanced swimming pool. Creative hacking creates a “DoomPhone.” Turning blocks of wood into Velcro. What were the most important scientific developments of the past 50 years? Using a bowling ball for other sports. An Oregon entrepreneur develops vending machines that dispense arts and crafts. Remembering—against our will—the Pet Rock. What the heck was Grimace? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly milk crate stacking miscellany.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 142,868 employees in NAICS 32221 (Paperboard Container Manufacturing establishments). Employment in this category dropped abruptly in 2011 and 2012, then continued to rise over the course of the decade, peaking in 2018 at 147,301 before dropping a bit in 2019. In macro news, office and mall vacancy rates are at historic highs, the pandemic having accelerated trends that had been well underway beforehand.
The digital disruption that has already permanently changed a number of vertical markets is now poised to upend the manufacturing industry. This article explores how the benefits of 3D printing are expected to fuel a great many changes in the manufacturing world.
Last month, we ran a long article about the pros, cons, and challenges of carpet printing. In this article, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan interviews the CEO of Zimmer, a pioneer in innovative technologies for screen and digital printing (including carpet), coating, dyeing, steaming, and technical textiles.
Round-up of key data points from WTT’s lunch-and-learn “Interactive Print in the Real World: What’s Really Working?” The data reinforce why AR is not an up-and-coming technology, but rather one that is already here—and a force to be reckoned with.
Beyond CMYK is a $25 billion market and growing. Market research shows that Beyond CMYK print applications increase visibility, influence what gets looked at first, boost dwell time, encourage repeat engagement, and differentiate a print product. In this article sponsored by Xerox, Marybeth Gilbert looks at the Beyond CMYK market and Xerox’s broad portfolio of Beyond CMYK solutions.
Printing companies, already struggling with staffing in the office and in production, have a new concern. Sales team members are resigning, too. Sometimes without much notice, precipitated by requirements to return to an office or return to travel. Pat McGrew offers advice for developing a sales succession strategy to ensure that new salespeople quick acquire the knowledge of someone who is leaving.
How people interact with brands may never return to pre-pandemic habits. Innovative marketing efforts will be required to break through the noise of advertising and create an engaging customer experience that drives buying decisions. Contributor Joanne Gore explains how brands that offer interactive print experiences are more likely to be see increases in conversion rates.
Are you a prosumer or do you know one? Or is it even a term you are familiar with? This article explains who prosumers are and the impact they can have and are having on the fashion industry, as well as how each of us can play a role as well in helping move the fashion industry to a more sustainable future.
A working knitted keyboard. Graphene won another Olympic event. A 12-year-old Irish boy invents a magnet that attracts microplastics. Why is Macbeth such an unsettling play? Scholars found “the” reason. A research report on digital adult content looks, upsettingly, at AR and VR (though not QR, curiously…). A new (real) species of carnivorous plant has been discovered. AI creates 300 (not real) plant species. Why is the “milk crate challenge” a thing? Square foods, for some reason. Figurines of The Young Ones. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly milk crate stacking miscellany.
When The Fabricant was founded in 2018, digital fashion barely existed as a concept, and the idea of a digital atelier crafting couture for the non-physical environment? Forget it. Micky LaRosse, Head of Content & Strategy with Fabricant, says the trouble with creating something utterly new is the complete lack of reference points to guide your path. He offers advice to others pursuing this path in this article provided by Texintel.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released the results of its new American Time Use Survey, which compares how Americans spent their work and leisure time before and during COVID-19. This article considers some top-level findings from the survey from a print industry lens.
Merkle’s Q3 2021 Media Insights Report looks at the fundamental changes brought to the U.S. economy by the COVID-19 pandemic—changes that remind us that, even once the U.S. economy is back at full steam, it may not look exactly like the economy that existed before the pandemic.
In this article, sponsored by Alder Color Solutions, Marty Davis, President of Alder Color Solutions, explains how and why color management affects profitability and why upper management should be concerned and involved.
Launching a new way of interacting with our customers can be scary. It is also the best way to learn how to iterate the solution going forward. The sooner you realize you don’t know how your customers are going to utilize new tools, the better for your business. It makes you a better listener and helps your customers feel heard.
Pharmaceutical and small-format finishing is a robust and specialized category that can be very profitable to serve. However, until recently the category was in dire need of a technology overhaul to remove labor from the process, increase quality and security, reduce make-ready times, and increase production and changeover speeds. Trish Witkowski rounds up recent finishing equipment releases that are just what the doctor ordered.
We’ve been hearing that print is going interactive for years, not just with QR codes, but with technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and near-field communications (NFC). Some of the applications are truly astounding, but are they relevant to the printing industry at large? Heidi-Tolliver-Walker looks at some examples of how “interactive print” is relevant to commercial printers.
According to the U.S. Labor Department, more than 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April, a record high, and even more plan to do so as we exit the pandemic. If people are quitting due to boredom or unhappiness but still want to work, where will they look? And how can the textiles and apparel industry, which has long struggled to attract new talent, generate interest among those looking for something new?
Swiss researchers calculate pi to a new record number of figures. Buy an NFT clipart of a rock for almost $300K, for some reason. Graphene-reinforced concrete. “Biosmocking” is a peek at the future of apparel. AATCC announces the first global standard for measuring fiber fragment release during home laundering. A new sock sneaker featuring mushroom soles and 3D knitted discarded dog hair. Words coined by classic authors. Big brands go direct-to-consumer to gather better data. Genetically altering mosquitoes to make them blind to human hosts. “The Big Sleep” at 75. The firefly squid isn’t just a visual feast. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 253,464 employees in NAICS 3222 (Converted Paper Product Manufacturing establishments). Employment in this category dropped abruptly in 2012, then remained somewhat stable over the course of the decade and reaching 245,579 in 2018. In macro news, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) show increased demand for architectural design services, good news for the signage industry.
Manchester Print Services in the UK is one of a growing number of companies driving new business models in the textiles industry, including digital production of interior décor, as well as specialized textile printing for events, exhibitions, and retail display.
In his fourth of six articles dealing with improving how we get things done, Wayne Lynn looks at getting past issues that delay and potentially stifle the implementation of goal-supporting business decisions. Leaders and their teams need to develop and support the Inventive mindset. Read on to learn more.
Although the print industry is still reeling from the ongoing effects of the pandemic, direct mail communications have seen a resurgence because of their tactile nature and ability to establish a physical connection. This article explores how print service providers can leverage inkjet technology to capitalize on new opportunities in print.
In the past three years, Lawrence, Mass.’s LaPlume & Sons Printing experienced a gas explosion and then the pandemic—but then this 85-year-old family business has faced its share of challenges over the decades and has managed to change with the times.
Even as CMOs’ 2020 marketing budgets were being slashed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMOs were hopeful that those budgets would bounce back in 2021. But Gartner’s just-released “CMO Spend Survey” tells a different story. Not only are budgets not bouncing back, but they have dropped to the lowest level in the history of the survey. Is there any good news for PSPs in here?
Printing costs are going up, and we need to start letting customers know prices will too. Customers need advance warning—no one likes surprises. Contributor John Giles advises you to be proactive and tell your customers, particularly your top customers, about the pending increases.
Over the last several years, Jefferson City, Mo.-based Modern Litho has experienced growth both organically and through acquisitions as it expands its footprint within Missouri. In this interview, Jeff Davidson discusses the company’s strategy, how acquisitions are key to its growth and diversification, and its latest investments in IT infrastructure.
How do you evolve your business and imbue your culture with a customer-centric ethic that actually modifies your organizational DNA? Preston Herrin offers four steps to becoming a customer-experience-driven company.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Denmark.
A new wearable patch can monitor blood pressure. New graphene paper can extend shelf-life of fruits. Calorie-counting stair signage. A first-person essay written by a QR code. The new “packaging real estate boom.” Why is the English language as erratic and haphazard as it is? Turning cremains into decorative pebbles. How fast can you type the alphabet? The 1962 Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic. How much trouble is the travel industry in? Remember that time when a goose collided with Fabio’s face? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Delta variant miscellany.
Everywhere you look, whether online or off, enterprises are sending customer communications that beg, plead, and sometimes even force consumers to go paperless. Although COVID-19 has accurately been dubbed “the great accelerator,” ongoing market shifts probably won’t prove to be the final nail in the coffin that represents the death of printed bills and statements.
With so much emphasis being placed on customization of interior and home décor enabled by digital printing technologies, can we even customize our carpets now? Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan shares this Texintel guest post by Bob Balings of Bob Mats B.V., which highlights different carpet printing technologies and their pros and cons, with lots of great advice about selecting the right technology for your work.
To what extent is this industry merely talking about relevance-based personalization and to what extent are we actually doing it? Insights from Who’s Mailing What!, a national database of direct mail, raises some interesting questions.
You offer great quality, terrific service, and competitive prices, yet some prospects still won’t work with you. Why? Steven Johnson uses a colorful analogy to show how customer disinterest can come from some unexpected places.
Feeding envelopes through a printer is not necessarily an easy task, especially since there are so many sizes, configurations, and variations in thickness—even batch to batch. Yet Printlink has found an exceptional bespoke press solution that highlights what can be accomplished with production inkjet.
We’ve been speculating about how the textiles and apparel industry will come out of the pandemic—how much will change, how quickly, and how much will remain the same? To help with this thought process, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University has published a study entitled "Repeat, Repair or Renegotiate? The Post-COVID Future of the Apparel Industry." We summarize the results in this article.
The history of the restaurant menu. A “textile artist” specializes in food. French fry packaging made from discarded potato peels. Does it surprise you that graphene played a role at the Olympics? Changes are coming to Google Drive—consider yourselves warned. Pop Charts sells very cool infographic posters. Cornell researchers capture the highest-resolution image of atoms ever seen. An eight-year-old “entrepreneurial ant dealer.” Ron Popeil passes away. SpaceX is looking for a spaceport bartender. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Olympic miscellany.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 90,892 employees in NAICS 51913 (Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals). Over the course of the decade, employment in this category grew steadily to reach 275,875 in 2018. In macro news, real GDP increased at an annual rate of 6.5% in Q2 2021.
One of the critical needs in the textiles and apparel industry is attracting new talent. CMYUK is helping address this need by launching a worldwide competition to recognize emerging talent. Its “Creatives in Residence” program will give two young surface designers and one talented videographer an outstanding opportunity to undertake a six-month placement at CMYUK’s advanced digital training and demonstration facility in Shrewsbury in the UK. While this might seem UK-centric, it is a worldwide opportunity. If you know a talented young person that would like to participate, please let them know about this opportunity! Learn more...
Because electronic messages substantially outnumber printed communications, direct mail is now the less cluttered channel. Electronic communications also fall short of well-designed printed communications in terms of tactile impact. This article explores how marketers of printed communications can use the sensory elements of direct mail to their advantage.
Automation is the sexy sales and marketing term. Process improvement is where the magic happens. Keep your reality hat on and think about automation at the discrete task level of your business process.
As the U.S. economy continues to bounce back, “state of marketing” surveys are giving conflicting pictures. One says marketing budgets are falling. Another says they are rising. What to make of this conflicting information?
Navigating the post-pandemic world in the early days of the reopening could be confusing, as there was little signage that indicated a particular location’s policies regarding mask-wearing, etc. Still, some demand for post-pandemic signage remains, although the major opportunities for sign and display graphics producers were mostly fleeting.
PRINTING United Alliance is a member-based printing and graphic arts association based in the U.S. The Alliance team provides economics and market trend insight, education, certification, events, human resources services, the latest legislation affecting our industry, environmental, and health and safety leadership. The Alliance partners with leading industry organizations that echo its mission in serving professionals and their companies across market segments with current, usable resources, both locally and nationally.
Wayfinding and other kinds of interior graphics are good opportunities for signage and display graphics providers. However, it is essential to have an understanding of the requirements for signage to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—and how some of those requirements have changed post-COVID.
2021 marked the year that Fuji Xerox become FUJIFILM Business Innovation and started launching their own product range. While still supplying most print engines to Xerox, FUJIFILM Business Innovation is set to become a major digital printing player on its own. Get ready for an emerging major player in digital print.
Fats Domino toured with Scitex equipment? QR codes could be poised to raise privacy concerns. Graphene goes skiing. Is more expensive clothing necessarily more ethically produced? Keep your Oreo cookies away from your kids by using disguised packaging. How fast can a robot run a 5K? Pogo stick crutches, to make your rehab even more challenging. Philosophical CAPTCHAs to make your logins more challenging. Why are tennis balls yellow? A reusable silicone straw that unzips for easy cleaning. The world’s most expensive French fries. Florida man attempts to run on water from Florida to New York in a giant hamster wheel. Cicada killer wasps! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Olympic miscellany.
As opposed to a horizontal market approach (which involves developing a specific product offering that touches many industries), a vertical market approach involves serving specific customers with specific needs. This article explores how implementing a vertical market strategy can help you recognize new and existing opportunities.
Throughout history, silk has been recognized as one of the most, if not the most, exquisite and luxurious fabrics available. Now fabric printers are having huge success with digital printing of this glorious textile. In this article, textile expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan shares an example from Italian firm Mantero.
Paper and packaging companies are not only consumers of natural resources, but they are striving to be protectors of them, too. Here are five “feel good” stories about how members of the paper industry are doing their part.
Constraints are real. You can feel limited by them or you can decide to work with them in a way to maximize your results. No business is without constraints. With print software, humans and existing software are critical constraints to embrace.
If you are struggling with setting prices or trying to decide when it’s time to change prices, Pat McGrew offers some starting points with this two-part series on five steps for managing pricing. This second part involves looking not just as the products you sell, but the services, too, and then reviewing and executing your pricing plan.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Sweden.
Pandemic and other forms of uncontrollable change can be detrimental for businesses. However, to offset initial disruptions and potentially larger, more long-term implications when hit with the unexpected, leadership at organizations must act swiftly and rally their team. Guest contributor Burke Cueny, VP of Marketing for Alliance Franchise Brands, explains how multiple departments and business units can work together to overcome the crisis.
We’ve written a great deal about sustainability—or the lack thereof—in textiles and apparel on this site. In this article, we highlight some of the less discussed but equally important textile finishing technology that is driving sustainability in the industry
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 10,166 employees in NAICS 511199 (All Other Publishers). Over the course of the decade, employment in this category steadily declined to bottom out at 4,999 in 2018. In macro news, last year’s “official” COVID recession lasted only two months, according to the NBER.
Book sales may keep increasing…or not. A quill-like pen is a Kickstarter hit. A scholarly paper was co-authored by a dead friend in a dream. Do you remember The Print Shop pre-Mac design application? How many words did Shakespeare invent? Batteries need help…graphene to the rescue! A gasoline-scented cologne. A woman uses signage to accuse her cat of robbery. The Bow TIE: the geeky accessory you know you want. Two words: meth trout. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly space-bound miscellany.
Fashion week on film? Richard Quinn unveiled this unique approach to debuting a new collection at the recent AW21 collection at the Electric Theatre, London. Is this a sign of what's to come from other designers? It would seem it is partly the result of the many things we have learned about virtual events and digital technology during the pandemic.
The oldest members of Generation Z will turn 24 this year, and Millennials are now fully entrenched in their adult lives. These groups wield a tremendous amount of influence and purchasing power, so it’s more important than ever to reach them. This article explores how younger consumers perceive print and considers how printed communications can be used to get their attention.
Until recently, growth and excitement around augmented reality (AR) has been limited among printers since the barriers to entry were high, and other than for SnapChat filters and niche applications (such as gaming), few consumers were using it. Even as AR experiences became more robust and effective, they required an app, and marketers found that people don’t want to download apps. Now AR has developed a symbiotic relationship with QR Codes, and that changes everything.
Being busy doesn’t equate to business success. Is your busy-ness leading you in the right direction? Or are you being led by your inputs? Prioritization takes uninterrupted time and discipline, it results in your activities having strategic direction.
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.