User group meetings create a space for you to find peers for collaboration. Use these meetings to find your people. Do not proceed in these disruptive market conditions on your own! I invite you to attend the sessions. For those of you who are not planning to attend, I want to provide you with some of the key learnings that will be delivered.
The US commercial printing industry finished the year with 439,900 employees, down -11,200 compared to 2015. The number of production employees was down -3,100, a -1.0% decrease. Non-production employees represented the biggest change, down -8,400 (-6.0%).
Australian packaging company Orora stakes out US position in retail display, acquiring The Register Group, ICV Partners buys out SG360° ESOP, Cimpress acquires National Pen, Moore DM buys PS/PS Digital and more.
With the Dow Jones and S&P 500 at all-time inflation-adjusted highs. The recovery indicators are stronger than they have been in a while, with very bullish increases in new orders for manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors, and a strong reading of the NASDAQ stock index.
The beginning of the 2017 should be noisy from a political perspective, but the opportunity for distraction might be the biggest opportunity one can have. Stay focused as we're in the midst of a third media wave that may trap print businesses that have not prepared for it. And then there's the teenager who bought a newspaper. No, not a copy of a newspaper, but a newspaper business. This will be a strange year.
2016 marked my first visit to the Color Conference. Over recent years, the conference has broadened its audience to include more content for designers and brand owners while still sticking to its color technology heritage. Read more to find out why this conference was a great way to end 2016.
As we move into 2017 and beyond, data-driven marketing is going to get bigger, better, and more integrated into the consumer experience. Technology-savvy, data-driven marketers want to get the right message in front of the right audience at the right time to drive the desired behavior. This article leverages information from InfoTrends’ latest Multi-Client study entitled Lead with Data: Follow with Print to explore some areas of key importance as we enter a new year.
When people get frustrated with software, they are looking for an easy answer to get closure. One of the most common reactions to web-to-print frustration is to shop for a different solution. Before you start shopping, take a long hard look at your investment in really learning the web-to-print solution you already have.
The halls, they are decked, the silver bells, they are ringing, and throughout the land a festive Christmas spirit is finally descending upon us. It’s also the electric company’s favorite time of year, I would guess, and it’s always entertaining walking or driving around and seeing how extravagantly some homeowners festoon their homes—tastefully, garishly, and everything in between—with all manner of lights, inflatables, and giant electric snow globes.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its third report of real Gross Domestic Product, at an annualized +3.5% over the second quarter. This is considered the final report, revising the advance report of +2.9% two months ago, and +3.2% in last month's preliminary report. This is important because each release of GDP data is based on increasing amounts of actual reported data. The advance report relies the most on estimates and models.
2016 was a very busy year in the printing industry, but the highlight of the year was drupa … it marked what appears to be a turning point in the industry energy level. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne revisits drupa and other key events that occurred during 2016.
Implementing a Print MIS is challenging, it requires a focus on end results without an attachment to “the way things have always been done”, persistence, and adaptability. Look for these personality traits in the people you assign to lead your Print MIS implementation.
Visiting Shutterfly was an amazing experience. The company produces hundreds of thousands of orders per day during peak periods across its three U.S. production sites in a highly architected and efficient manufacturing process. Read the article to find out more.
“It's not worth it for us” was the comment during a CEO panel that Dr. Joe attended, and that comment was about print. It was hard to take, but he wasn't surprised. What did the comment really mean? Does it fit with the unfolding new media allocation and shake-up ? Then Dr. Joe reviews the explosion in smartphones in information search and sharing, and how it exploded in the start of the holiday shopping season. What does it this mean for print, printers, and consolidation? Dr. Joe pulls it all together.
How is it possible that corporate giants AT&T and Time Warner reach an agreement on the terms of a merger in only two months while many small business owners languish over deals for six months, nine months, or even years?
The effects of consolidation, a challenging pricing environment, cost controls and productivity measures have sent shipments per employee to unprecendented levels. The prior peak was just before the recession began. The industry is more efficient in many ways, especially with the exit of weak and marginal establishments. But is it more profitable? In the December 15 webinar and in the new Forecast 2017 report, industry profit levels are discussed. Despite reaching new levels of sales per employee, profit levels have become tepid, a sign of tightening market conditions. In the webinar we discussed the possibility that another wave of media change is underway. The last major one was the rise of social media ten years ago, and now the growing impact of mobile media, especially this year.
Although the term is often overused, true business transformation is about making fundamental changes in how business is conducted to help cope with a shift in market environment. This article explores how savvy print service providers are changing their go-to-market strategies so they can sell their services in new and innovative ways.
Many companies avoid asking tough questions because the discussion can lead to tension and controversy. How can you help promote an open and productive discussion to fairly evaluate potential growth opportunities?
The Presidential transition certainly has its uncertainties. Traditional media had a tough election cycle, and that creates concern what business information executives can rely on as they make their plans. Perhaps they should just keep their heads down and focus on their customers and let the fog and chaos run its course. Small business is very optimistic, it may be too early to be so, but that's not stopping them or the stock markets.
Today, Cimpress, the parent company of Vistaprint and multiple other Internet printing brands, announced it is acquiring National Pen, a leader in custom writing instruments. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Cimpress CEO Robert Keane to get the inside scoop.
InfoTrends and Buyers Laboratory, LLC (BLI) recently unveiled a new branding after a long and thorough process of strategic evaluation and analysis. Given the importance of branding to your organization and our recent experience, this article shares the journey that BLI and InfoTrends took to evolve into Keypoint Intelligence. It also outlines the steps that we will be taking to formally establish our combined brand in the market.
As software takes on a larger and larger role in your print business, your technical leader plays a greater role in all aspects of your business performance. With the right internal technical leader, software can deliver almost everything that was promised in the demo! Without the right technical leader, you’re going to feel like your software investment was a complete waste of money.
Have you ever attended Hunkeler Innovationdays? If not, you are missing one of the most innovative and focused events in our industry. Scheduled for 20-23 February 2017 in beautiful Lucerne, Switzerland, this event is expected to attract more than the 6,000 attendees that graced the 2015 event, with more than 80 exhibitors and 40 dedicated multivendor production lines. Read more.
The Postal Service Reform Act of 2016 (H.R.5714) before the 114th Congress provides meaningful progress in removing regulatory requirements that are drowning the Postal Service in debt. Without passage the Postal Regulatory Commission may change its postal rate process resulting in drastically increased rates.
Commercial printers have historically had more stringent quality requirements and a more complex workflow, with substrates varying from job to job. Inkjet quality levels continue to improve, however, and more and more commercial printers are making the decision to invest in the technology. This article discusses the steps that Heeter (Pittsburgh, PA) took to make the inkjet transition.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis issued its second estimate of real gross domestic product, raising it to +3.2%. Real GDP for 2Q-2016 was +1.4%. Each advance release of GDP data is revised monthly as “more complete source data” is used rather than estimates. We prefer comparing GDP data to the same quarter as the prior year, which helps minimize the variation and possible distortions of seasonal adjustments. Compared to last year, Q3-2016 was +1.6%. Because inventory changes can distort GDP estimates, we also look at the data less inventories, and it shows the economy still hovering around a +2.0% growth rate. Lately, the inventory adjustments have been small. Theoretically, they should be zero in the long run, and for these last two quarters that has nearly been the case. In 2015, it averaged +$82 billion per quarter. Some of 2016's sluggish performance has been an inventory adjustment in the overall economy. The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow estimate for the current Q4 is running at +2.4%.
Aleyant PrintJobManager™ is a cloud-based entry into the Print MIS market. Most printers will recognize Aleyant as the maker of the popular Aleyant Pressero™ web-to-print solution. Aleyant is entering the Print MIS market with a stand-alone solution PrintJobManage
A recent survey conducted by Clemson University's Graphic Communications department examined current trends regarding printing company involvement with creative services as a driver of business growth.
To many, Australia may seem to be on the far side of the world, but the business issues confronting packaging and label producers there are much the same as they are anywhere else. A recent conference by a newly formed trade association addressed some of them.
Dr. Joe went to lunch and heard a three-word sentence that changed his Graph Expo and his industry conversations thereafter. When he said those three words, jaws would drop, but curiosity would rise. The three words? “Print is Intimidating.” And we always thought we were being nice. Find out why in Dr. Joe's column.
Radiation-curable inks and coatings represent a world market that is forecast to grow at a healthy CAGR of 4.1% to 2019, with cartons and labels claiming the largest share. But, making sure that curable fluids are safe for food packages remains a prime concern for the entire packaging supply chain.
Although the selling environment has never been more challenging, today’s digital age makes this a perfect time to leverage all of the latest sales tools and technologies. Today’s technologies must be integrated with effective selling techniques to transform a prospect into a loyal customer.
Will the newly inaugurated President Trump be dealing with a recession like his predecessor did? In December 2008, a recession was declared, and the experts said it started almost a year before then. Several economic indicators, like durable goods orders and factory orders, have been negative compared to the prior year's level for almost two years. The Federal Reserve's Industrial Production Index released on November 16 marked its thirteenth consecutive negative comparison to the prior year. The only sector that is holding up in the GDP reports is the consumer side of that bookkeeping. That can't hold up for long unless the production and investment side of the GDP ledgers start to perk up. There is optimism in the markets about a Trump recovery, but it must be noted that there are many legislative hurdles ahead, and most economic plans take about 18 months to develop notable impact.
Your web-to-print needs to solve two core challenges, the challenge of e-commerce and the unique challenge of selling print online. Design ‘N’ Buy took a different strategy for getting to market with a print-enabled e-commerce solution. They left the e-commerce part to the open-source community by proactively integrating with the most popular open source e-commerce platforms.
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently had the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with three leading companies about their success with workflow automation and what it has meant for their businesses.
Eight years ago we were changing presidential paths as we are today, and Dr. Joe had a webinar amidst that tumult of the freshly declared recession, jittery markets, and that upcoming transition. This week, he goes into the archives and reviews what he forecast – and grades himself accordingly. He even gave himself an F for one of the forecasts – how did he do on the others?
There is no question that digitalization is bringing major challenges to the printing industry. It is no longer enough to manufacture and sell products and services—value must be added. This article cites a recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly to highlight the importance of transformation in the printing industry.
Scaling your print business requires the removal of bottlenecks from order inquiry to accurate invoice payment. Your Print MIS is the system of record that can drive you to a more efficient business and enable you to scale.
There was a time when I could describe lenticular imaging thusly: “You know those prizes that used to come in boxes of Cracker Jack, little cards that if you held it one way it displayed one image and if you held it another it would flip to another image?” It was a low-tech 3D effect or animation, kind of the analog equivalent of an animated GIF.
US commercial printing shipments for September 2016 were down -$8 million compared to the prior year (-0.1%). On an inflation-adjusted basis, shipments were down by -$118 million. Interestingly, inflation-adjusted August shipments were up by +$118 million, making the net change for the two months zero.
Last month's recovery indicators bounced back big from a dreadful report, but this month's have moderated. The ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing new orders decreased, but they are still above the 50 breakeven level, showing growth. The non-manufacturing side is still strongly on the growth side of the line.
Most consumers begin purchasing for the holidays on November 1. If retailers wait too long, they miss out on valuable sales opportunities. This article provides strategies for attracting customers and driving them to engage with your brand as the holidays approach.
Are you planning to attend the Color Conference in December in Phoenix? If you have anything to do with color in your daily work, you should consider it. There have been many advances in color management as well as launching of new standards. This is the best place to get the scoop on all of it and rub elbows with the experts – consultants, printers, suppliers and brand owners who are passionate about color.
Prior to the release of Q3's advance estimate of real GDP, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow forecast was +2.1%. The official figure came in much better, at +2.9%. It is likely to be revised down slightly, but it was a much better showing than recent data.
A recent state of the in-plant industry report finds that in-plant printing departments are well-poised to expand their wide-format and specialty printing options—not just for their parent organizations, but for outside customers, as well.
The National Retail Federation issued its forecast of holiday retail sales. It expects a +3.6% increase compared to 2015. But what's the real increase? After deducting for inflation, that's about +1.5%. If real GDP comes in at +2% in the October 28, 2016 advance report for Q3, holiday retail sales growth will be in line with the growth rate of +1.4% for the year. In some ways, this can be a good year compared to recent history. Holiday retail sales have averaged +2.46% since 2007, with a net after inflation of only +0.64%. On a per person basis, that's actually a decline in that period.
Today’s technologies have completely transformed the buying process. A customer can browse a physical retail shelf, handle everything virtually by visiting an e-commerce site, or do a combination of both before making a decision. This article discusses the need for marketers to connect with customers wherever they are.
For years, people have been predicting the demise of print – beginning with the dot com boom of the early 2000s and the beginning of the digital age. The industry’s fate, said experts, was all but sealed thanks to the Internet. For distinct segments like printed newspapers, this prediction came true. The Internet and social media has transformed the news landscape in previously unimaginable ways – shifting consumer behaviour away from single paid to multiple often free and certainly freely available news sources.
We’ve been talking about cross-media, multi-channel, omni-channel – whatever you want to call it – for a long time. But now technology has arrived to add a brand-new element to these consumer experiences that is accessible to printing firms of all types. Read this article to find out how Fenske Media has harnessed real-time interactive video to achieve up to 284% increase in engagement and an 80% improvement in click-through rates, while still growing print volumes.
The industry’s solutions for cultivating workforce talent aren’t perfect. But, given the graying of the industry and the thinning of its ranks in production occupations, it’s urgent to use them to their full extent.
There's nothing like print enriching itself, and mobile might be the way to do it. A surge in mobile information preference is underway. How should printers plan? Diving in of course, by turning on static print materials into Internet and other gateways. If printers have sidestepped the digital media revolution to concentrate on the media they do best, this may be an opportune time to enliven their offerings as technology, economics, and consumer preference seem to be aligning themselves in a very special way.
Mobile devices are changing the customer experience and forcing organizations to rethink how they engage with their customers and employees. This article shares how CCG Marketing Solutions and Rethink CMYK have leveraged cross-media and mobile technologies to catapult their businesses forward.
The most important thing you can do to thrive during times of disruption is to learn more about your customer’s problems. What you solved for customers in the past might not be relevant in the future, what you can solve in the future will reinvent may reinvent your business.
Marketing is getting pushed out of the boardroom and strategies built around customers are going with it. It’s a self-inflicted banishment, and marketers – including many CMO’s – are worried about it. For Graphic Communication firms, this presents a two-fold challenge and opportunity.
When Joshua Feller bought a failing trade show graphics company in 2005, he had little idea that it was the start of a journey that would take him into the world of wide-format printing—and the burgeoning world of digital label printing.
Print began to flex its muscles and show its power not long after Gutenberg invented movable type. Print was a causative factor in the rapid spread of Martin Luther’s teachings in the first half of the 1500’s. Andrew Pettegree has done an excellent job of presenting a blend of European history of the period, the story of Martin Luther and how print influenced it all in Brand Luther. Highly recommended reading!
I recently returned from Washington, DC after witnessing, firsthand, the opening of the 19th and final Smithsonian Institution museum on The Mall, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). I was part of a group of 32 people, mostly from San Luis Obispo (California) County, who attended. We were all there, not only to witness history in the making, but as a tribute to The Late Joe Schwartz, former lithographer and “street photographer,” whose photographs became one of the first and one of the only permanent exhibits adopted by the Smithsonian Institution to be prominently displayed at the Museum.
According to McKinsey & Company, industry incumbents must face the digital disruption and determine what they can do differently to survive or even thrive in the future. McKinsey’s rules apply to a wide variety of industries, but this article highlights how Apex Revenue Technologies is facing the digital disruption with technological innovations.
Every print software decision needs to be considered within the context of your end-to-end workflow. Isolated or point solutions are costly both short and long term. As jobs travel through your production and business workflows – it is vital that the various pieces of print technology can communicate with each other without human intervention.
Despite its move to Orlando after 20 years in Chicago, Graph Expo 2016 exceeded expectations according to most exhibitors and attendees. In this article, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne shares the highlights that caught her attention at the show.
For once the employment report was bad on the outside but good on the inside. Printing employment continues to show consolidation effects. The recovery indicators have their own recovery. August printing shipments are big, making up for July’s disturbing decline. Dr. Joe’s good Graph Expo included a visit to the Printerverse and a digital book discussion worth watching.
The September 2016 issue of McKinsey Quarterly included an article entitled An Incumbent’s Guide to Digital Disruption that offered insight on actions that businesses can take today to remain competitive in today’s digital age. This article provides a synopsis of the McKinsey disruption lifecycle and explores how the printing industry is being affected today.
Mistakes get made during the print software sales process because there is a lack of common understanding, a pressure on the vendor to say yes to every challenge presented, and a tendency to focus on solutions rather than the problems.
Real GDP for the second quarter got its final revision, and was raised from +1.1% to +1.4%. Regular readers know that we prefer to look at real GDP on a year-to-year basis, excluding inventories, to give a better long-term view of the economy. The second quarter had an inventory correction, which seemed overdue.
Marketers are spending billions of dollars producing, warehousing, and shipping marketing literature, packaging, documentation, point-of-sale displays, premiums, giveaways, signage, and handouts for all channels of market contact and engagement. This article explores how managing and controlling this portion of marketing operations can materially impact go-to-market effectiveness, increase business value, and create a competitive advantage.
Even though today’s consumers are inundated with marketing-related messages, only a fraction of these messages actually get the consumer engaged. This article explores how marketers are using personalization to create customized communications that help them stand out from their competitors.
Data about manufacturing from the ISM and the Commerce Department have show a contraction compared to the prior year. In some cases that slowdown and contraction has been in process for 18 or more months. Retail sales and consumer spending have been the brighter spots of the economy. The inflation-adjusted growth rate of retail sales has been slowing since the beginning of 2015.
When you buy and sell software by the pound (# of features), you get distracted as a buyer as to what business challenge is actually most important to solve. As a vendor when you build software by the pound you keep adding without going back and refining the core features of your solution.
DG3, a significant player in the NYC metro, national and international market for commercial and financial printing, has entered another phase of its storied existence of acquisitions, going public, sale of the company, management buyout, return of the founder, sale to private equity and now a secondary sale to private equity and special situation fund Resilience Capital Partners.
Remember that “content is king” thing? The king is losing money. Worldwide ad agency Carat is forecasting moderate growth in advertising, but major shifts in the way ad budgets are spent. It's a fascinating look at worldwide communications with significant implications for printers of all sizes. And then those CMOs... just when they think they have it figured out, they're getting fired again.
Even in today’s digital age, printed books are alive and well. The death of printed books has been greatly exaggerated, and emerging technologies and consumer preferences are converging. This article explores the tools and techniques that can help resolve the supply chain.
The Pew Research Center's recent report about book reading gives us a peek at the relationship of print and digital media. The report says “A growing share of Americans are reading e-books on tablets and smartphones rather than dedicated e-readers, but print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats.” The chart shows what formats their respondents used in the year prior to the survey. Only 6% were digital-only readers. The report states that 26% read no book in the last year; they may have read other things, but not books. Contrary to many reports about the “demise” of e-books, that has risen from 17% to 28%. It's been stuck there for three years. Print-only readers were 39% (remember: that used to be the entire market of book readers). Print and digital readers are now at 29%. Add the 6% digital-only, and you're at 35%. Content needs to be available in multiple media. Media selection is based on many factors, such as time, convenience, price, income, education, age, and others. Pew also offers insights into the use of audiobooks. The report is free can be downloaded from the Pew Research Center. One other note: when you hear that tablet sales are down or that e-book reader sales are down, keep in mind the versatile use of smartphones and their growing role in content engagement. Among readers 18-29 years old, 22% of them are reading books on their smartphones, 4x more than read them on e-book readers.
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.