Visual language in the form of letters and images has been around since the very first cave paintings, however, the printing industry took off after the invention of the printing press in the 15th century which made it possible for mass production of printed material. In the centuries since then, printing has evolved greatly, diversifying across material types, colored ink, and use of graphics. Commercial print can be defined as any printing done at a large scale for businesses and includes technologies such as offset lithography, flexography, digital and LED UV.
The evolution of digital technology has made a considerable dent in the commercial print market, as the use of traditional printing has given way to more popular digital means of communication. As a result, the commercial print market has had to adapt, to able to sustain steady growth in a highly competitive market. The global commercial print market last year reached a value of $728 billion and is currently growing at a slow CAGR of approximately 0.3 percent.
Commercial Print Market Growth in Recent Years
Over the past 5 years, the growth of the commercial print market has slowed down, faced with competition from forms of digital communication. However, despite the advances in digital communication, the commercial print market is expected to hold a steady market share as there are numerous requirements for commercial print which cannot be met digitally.
Commercial printing finds applications in the production of books, brochures, magazines, catalogs, invitations, newspapers, posters, stationery, banners, menus, point of sale items, signage, billboards and more. Among the largest end-user segments for commercial printing is the food and beverage industry, which uses commercial printing on packaging and labels.
At a global level, the U.S., France, U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and China have high market maturity. Medium market maturity regions for commercial printing are Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Eastern Europe, Australia, and India.
Commercial Print Market Growth Drivers
There are certain key growth drivers in the global commercial print market.
Value-Added Services: In a bid to increase appeal to consumers, commercial print service providers are moving towards offering value-added services and complete end-to-end solutions to the buyers at competitive prices. Value-added services range from data management, mailing, graphic design, BTL or ‘Below The Line’ marketing consulting, e-publishing and 3D printing. Digital printing machines make it possible for the suppliers to facilitate a faster turnaround as well as print-on-demand services. While major consumers, such as from the packaging industries have regular packages with commercial printing suppliers, the value-added services aid suppliers in gaining further clients.
Wider Applications: As the demand for commercial printing reduces in certain applications, such as newsletters and coupons, the market continues to expand into other industry sectors. The demand for commercial printing is largely driven by the food and beverage, financial services, retail, and publishing industries. The commercial printing formats with maximum demand are on-demand print materials, packaging, digital printing, promotional printing, and wide-format printing.
Eco-Friendly Practices: A major drawback of commercial printing is the carbon footprint it makes and related harm to the environment. Paper products require the cutting down of trees, and traditional inks are often petroleum based. To mitigate these drawbacks, the commercial print industry is moving towards more eco-friendly practices, using recycled paper and soy ink, helping suppliers and buyers control their carbon footprints.
Commercial Print Market Challenges
Apart from the growth drivers in the commercial print market, there are certain challenges as well.
Digitization: Already, digitization has made its impact felt on the commercial print market, and it is expected to affect the market further as buyers increase adoption electronic versions of printed materials such as annual reports, vouchers, and catalogs rather than commercial printing. Communication formats that target consumers are also increasingly becoming digitized, with the use of email and newsletters.
Feedstock Prices: The costs involved in the commercial print industry are highly dependent on the feedstock prices for items such as paper, inks, and solvents. The volatile nature of the raw material prices and price fluctuations pose a challenge to effective pricing by the commercial print industry and have a significant impact on the final prices.
Commercial Print Market Outlook
Despite the challenges that the commercial print market faces, the overall outlook is positive, as the industry is expected to evolve further to meet the needs of buyers. The prevalence of digital means of communication is likely to grow at a rapid pace, but many formats of commercial printing do not have suitable digital equivalents, as a result, commercial printing will retain its importance. For example, packaging and labeling are applications of commercial printing that cannot be digitally replaced.
The growth of the commercial print market has slowed down considerably in recent years, however, it continues to record positive growth. Growing digitization is the biggest challenge to the commercial print market. To meet the growing challenges of the field, commercial printing will likely need to boost innovations, costs, quality, and service to entice buyers in the field and beat the competition.