Global variable data printing market forecast to reach 853,097 million sheets by 2017

The global variable data printing (VDP) market is forecasted to be 853,097 million sheets in 2017.

The global variable data printing (VDP) market opportunity is reached 656,756 million sheets in 2012 and is forecasted to be 853,097 million sheets in 2017, according to Smithers Pira. Traditional print/preprint output is forecast to fall by 0.5% per annum to 2017. Electrophotography is forecast to grow by 1.5% per annum and inkjet is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 14.2%. Full digital output is forecast to almost double from 8.2% market share to 14.2%.

The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017 looks at eight print-product areas within the industry. This report discusses the total VDP market opportunity which is the maximum number of pages that can be produced using VDP workflows. This is digital-only and digital overprinting combined. It also looks at the actual VDP jobs that are being produced. The report examines key drivers and trends, technological developments, and geographic markets the world over.

The largest VDP output volumes are coming from mature markets such as North America and Western Europe, where digital print overall is showing strong growth (especially inkjet) and the trends in VDP for direct mail and other marketing documents are setting those for the rest of the world. There is also high growth in digital output coming from emerging markets such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. In these regions, overall digital production volumes (sheets) are much lower, but the growth within those markets is much more rapid with as much as 20% annual growth in these regions.

In recent years, the most significant technological development impacting VDP has been the emergence of high-speed, commercial-quality color inkjet printing. While growth in electrophotography is forecast to be 1.5% annually (CAGR) during 2012-17, inkjet is forecast to grow at a rate of 14.2% in terms of annual average growth rates. As seen in Smithers Pira's market segmentation data, even when all other segment growth is negative, inkjet is increasing, often by double digits. Much of the VDP growth (although not yet volumes) will be inkjet.

The market opportunity for variable data printing is at its highest in direct mail, amounting to 264 billion A4 sheets (or equivalent) in 2012 and forecast to grow by around 19% overall over the next five years. Growth will not be uniform, however, as many sectors are under threat from paperless alternatives, notably business forms, checks, transactional print and direct mail. While digital's growing share will generally mean that digital output will grow, conventional printing output in many of the areas under review is declining and, in the longer term, digital printing volumes will also begin to tail off in some cases.

Despite pockets of growth in the markets, print overall is just recovering from a global decline. Print overall is forecast to show only incremental growth during 2012-17, despite an increasing global population and rapidly improving infrastructure. But where overall print lags, digital output and VDP benefit as they cannibalize traditional analogue printing.

Of the geographies tracked by Smithers Pira, two of the top three markets for VDP by volume - Western Europe and North America - are in decline in terms of overall printing output across the areas under review. These are also the most mature industrial economies with the most sophisticated marketing and print production markets. Growth (both in digital and in print overall) is occurring in emerging economies like Eastern Europe, China and Latin America (including Mexico) which are on a growth spurt economically and are known for handling outsourced production. Some economies, such as India and China, are showing strong growth in volumes, as well. With significant volumes already being produced, these are regions we want to watch.

The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017 is available as bound copy, electronic version, and global usage license. It is available for immediate download for £3950/$6300. For more information, please contact:

Stephen Hill (UK) T: +44 (0) 1372 802025