Changing Paper Demand in Office and Business Environments

The demise of paper use in office and business environments has been predicted by many forecasters and analysts. See the reasons for this demise here.


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Product detail
Product type: Market report
Date of publication: 26 Oct 2012
Product format: Digital Copy, Hard Copy
Number of pages: 192

Demand in the developed economies has declined since 2000 and there has been a steady decrease in cut size paper consumption year on year. In 2006 Pira undertook its first study examining the role of paper in the office of the future(2). The study concluded that paper use will continue in the office for the foreseeable future in the short term. However, in the medium term the influence of demographics and technological developments will accelerate a decline in demand. In 2009 Pira undertook its second study(3) which was soon after the economic downturn of 2008. The economic climate prevailing at that time had escalated the reduction in consumption through business closures, downsizing and consolidation.


The second study confirmed that cut-size paper demand would continue to decline as a result of:

  • Technology substitution
  • 'Green' related issues
  • Demographic changes in office personnel

The 2009 study also highlighted other trends. It was apparent that demand differed globally and that the developing markets were not following the model of the developed economies. Furthermore it was clear that in broad terms, paper use is more affected by individual office culture than by the end use business sector. However, there is also some longer lasting paper reliance in certain end use sectors driven by particular professional requirements such as the need for hardcopy archival documents in law and accountancy practices.

Since 2009, the downward pressures on demand have continued with the continuing economic turbulence resulting from the problems in the 'Eurozone', the lack of growth in any of the developed economies and the impact of austerity measures. These economic pressures on paper will all have a negative influence on future consumption and be compounded by:

Technological and behavioural changes - the increased uptake of 'smart' phones and 'tablet' computers, especially the iPad
The impact of environmental concerns, which is bringing increased implementation of 'corporate and social responsibility' policies which influence procurement policies and stimulate a greater recognition of issues such as carbon footprint
Potential changes in buying behaviour brought about by the new EUEcolabel and the revised green public procurement criteria for Copying and Printing paper

How any, or all, of these factors will impact the future demand for cut size papers used in businesses and office environments is the focus of the 2012 study.


The project evaluates:

  • the impact of continuing economic pressures and uncertainty,
  • the potential substitution of evolving and developing technology, and
  • the increased recognition and acceptance of environmental related issues on current and future paper demand.

The evaluation assesses:

  • How are these factors affecting overall consumption and demand of paper products?
  • When will their effect start having more impact on paper suppliers and others involved in the paper supply chain?
  • Will demand for cut size paper products with suitable chain of custody accreditation increase?
  • How will green procurement policies (private and public) influence future demand for different fibre based products?

Scope of work:

In addition to the overarching economic considerations brought about by the global financial situation, a number of behavioural and technological trends will have a significant impact on the consumption of both electronic media and printed media.

Key trends explored in the context of the study are:

  • the impact of governmental and agency cut backs on paper consumption
  • the impact of 'green' procurement policies
  • the growth of 'tablet' computers and their effect on print
  • the requirement for paper in developing economies
  • the evolution of end use markets/end users in relation to their need for paper
  • the changing nature of the distribution chain from mill to end user.

Some but not all of these trends will be affected by geographical factors. To address these and other question the research will provide a global view, but with a specific focus on particular regions as required. The research will seek the views of a cross-section of players throughout the supply chain with a particular focus on end users, i.e. companies from a broad range of commercial sectors, e.g. financial and legal, manufacturing, retail, educational, public sector and corporate etc.

For More Information:

To learn more about how your company may benefit, please contact Stephen Hill, Global Sales Director by email or phone at +44 1372 802025

This report is part of the Paper Perspectives Program from Dr Graham Moore at Smithers Pira. It has been running since 2006, and is typically 2 studies per year, with a goal of evaluating the impact of a range of issues and trends affecting various paper products, including consumption, demand, long and short term consquences to companies throughout the supply chain and specific product issues and trends. For more information, contact Stephen Hill or Dr Graham Moore


The programme will use a combination of the following types of research:

  • Desk research (secondary)
  • Telephone interviews (primary)

This will be used to elicit the necessary information and data on which to build the scenarios.

Primary research:
A number of telephone and face to face interviews with a representative cross section of players across the supply chain and across the geographical areas identified earlier. Smithers Pira's experience indicates that up to 50 telephone interviews should be carried out. These interviews will be global in scope, but with a particular focus on designated regions and large regional players.
In addition depending on the insight gained from the interviews, Smithers Pira may also organize a small number of representative consumer focus groups in order to access first hand office end user attitudes to paper use.

Smithers Pira will use its well-developed approach to maximise the amount of information gathered during each interview. Due to its extensive background and the knowledge of the industry, Smithers Pira is routinely successful in engaging participants in detailed discussions.

Secondary desk research

Information and data will be sourced from:

Smithers Pira market reports and journals - Smithers Pira publishes many market reports and journals, for example: Future of Print; Future of Digital Printed Papers
Smithers Pira Database -Smithers Pira's Information Centre subscribes to over 1000 industry journals, and relevant articles from the journals are abstracted into the Smithers Pira Database. Conference papers are also abstracted.
Various online market research databases and directories including Eurostat, UN Comtrade, Bureau of the Census, Kompass, Birkner
Web sites, industry directories and trade associations.

All these will be searched to maximise the primary research.

For More Information

To learn more about how your company may benefit, please contact Stephen Hill, Global Sales Director by email or phone at +44 1372 802025


Project sponsors will receive:

  • Copies of proposed investigative questionnaires for comment and revision
  • A report describing the results and analysis of the research, the scenario development, the assumptions on which they are built, and the consequences of realisation of a given scenario on future paper consumption in the office and business environments
  • An optional on-site presentation of the findings and their implications for individual sponsors


Project sponsorship is being offered to paper manufacturers, machinery manufacturers, filler suppliers, OEM's, ink and chemical suppliers, paper merchants and others who are involved with the manufacture, conversion and selling of appropriate papers.

Project resources

The project will be managed by Dr Graham Moore Strategic Consultant, Paper. Jane O'Hear, Associate Consultant will develop and lead the qualitative research programme and Nick Waite, Head of Market Research will develop and lead the quantitative research. The consultant team will be supported by Smithers Pira's global network of industry consultants and associates.

For More Information

To learn more about how your company may benefit, please contact Stephen Hill, Global Sales Director by email or phone at +44 1372 802025