Commercial printing efficiencies and industry consolidation maintain upward trend

A new report from Smithers Pira examines the current state of the commercial printing industry around the world, focusing on historic and current company and employment situation, as well as examining trends in terms of company size, printer revenues and other key indicators.

According to new report The Future of Printer Demographics to 2020, the global commercial printing industry is undergoing a state of flux. There is growth in output in emerging markets, outside package and label printing. However, the rise of digital media has had a negative impact on the industry, in particular demand for print on paper.

At the same time, a number of technological developments have improved efficiency, contributing towards declining levels of employment within the industry. Rising levels of automation are being seen in both administration and print production, and printers have sought to invest in a range of areas to shore up profitability and compete more effectively. This, too, has led to increasing consolidation within the industry.

“The coming period is likely to see further moves towards increasing automation at a time when the printing industry is seeing further erosion of its share in communications media,” said report author Ashley Santiago Gange.

“Although there have been more signs of stability into 2014/15, the long-term trend is likely to be one of further declines in demand, as well as greater efficiencies in print administration and production, and greater industry consolidation.”

The total number of employees in printing and allied industries in the 63 countries reviewed in the study was 7,161,927 people in 2014. This was 6.4% up from 6,733,101 in 2010. These people were employed by 691,510 companies in 2014, 2.1% up from 677,334 in 2010. There were wide variations in growth by region resulting from differences in macro socio-economic statuses and developments, as well as specific factors shaping the individual markets served by printing and allied industries.

The largest economies in Western Europe and North America, for example, have been characterised by low or negative economic growth in recent years. In these regions the number of companies active in printing and allied industries declined by 12.0% and 7.7% respectively over the 2010 to 2014 review period.

Overall global growth in employment in printing and allied industries was almost entirely the result of expansion in these industries in the Asia region, where the number of people employed rose by 569,198 over the 2010 to 2014 period. Developments in countries in this region were typically the opposite of those in North America and the largest economies of Western Europe. Growing GDPs and overall demand in many Asian countries supported advertising expenditure and enabled investment in printing and allied industries, while rates of per capita wealth were not high enough for expenditure on digital media consumer electronics to outweigh drivers contributing to growth. Other factors supporting expansion in these industries in various countries in the Asia region included rising literacy rates, price competitiveness, export activity and government support. Of reviewed global totals in 2014, the Asia region accounted for 63.9% and 71.9% of companies and employees respectively.

The Future of Printer Demographics to 2020 is a comprehensive insight into the key drivers and trends affecting development of the commercial printing industry. The report examines the specific growth sectors and crucial factors driving change over the next five years.