At the beginning of the century, the British printing industry had around 200,000 employees. That number has slipped to fewer than 125,000. Britain is having a rough go of it, as their overall sales have been steadily declining for the last 20 years.
Globally, the trend is different. According to the article, “the global printing industry, with estimated revenue of $880 billion last year, will continue to grow by about 2 percent until 2018, driven mainly by emerging market countries.” Most of that increase will come from China, India and other emerging markets.
The marketplace is changing, however, as more publications are converting into online versions. Content is still king, it’s just rapidly changing to digital form.
So what have the printers done in Britain to survive? And what should you do if you’re a commercial printer in the same situation? Here are four lessons to be learned.
Go lean, or go home. We’ve blogged at length about the need to move toward efficiency, and to integrate quality into every aspect of your operation. Wyndeham got lean. They realized they had to convert into the digital age, and moved toward more effective presses.
The casualties were the workforce, as these printing operations have gone almost “peopleless.” The harsh reality of the modern day is that workers need to refine their skills and become more proficient at operating digital equipment. The alternative is unemployment.
Go elsewhere. As I noted after attending PRINT 13, the stampede is underway for logistics printing. Packaging and labels are red-hot, because these are “parts of the physical world where a digital equivalent cannot easily follow.”
While this is hailed as the hot sectors of the industry, it also ushers in newfound competition. You’re going to be late to the party and face stiff competition if you decide to enter the fray, so be sure to find a niche market, like pharma or medical device labels.
Go innovate. Don’t just produce the same old product. Make it new. Make it personalized. Make it have special colors. The article notes how Wyneham printed a “megazine” for the film magazine Empire – an issue one-third larger than the usual issue to celebrate the upcoming “Godzilla” remake. That kind of novelty will make your printed piece a keepsake, and add value to your production.
Go merge. You can also achieve economies of scale and further improve efficiencies by merging with or acquiring a strategic partner. Can your combined synergies produce a unique offering for the marketplace? It’s much easier to merge than to reinvent the wheel.
As we’ve seen in the UK, anyone and everyone felt the pain of the 2008 recession. Now that the smoke has cleared, we can see the resulting marketplace. It’s up to you to carve out your own niche and make it grow