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Market Trends

Print Forecast

Reflecting on another busy year in the print industry, Rob Fletcher looks ahead to 2020 and picks out some of the key trends to keep an eye out for over the next 12 months

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Bright Outlook

The festive season marks one of the busiest periods of the year for print-service-providers (PSPs) in the UK, as they work around the clock in an effort to ensure all jobs are finished before the Christmas break. However, time away from the office in December presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months.

It is probably fair to say that it has been another year of mixed fortunes for the print sector. On one hand, we have seen tremendous growth in certain markets, but on the other, some businesses continue to struggle, as the uncertainty over Brexit still looms over the market.

But what about 2020? The New Year is a chance to make a fresh start and, after reflection at Christmas, complete with rest, recuperation and turkey sandwiches, PSPs can return to work in January with a new mind-set. With this in mind, what can PSPs do to ensure they have a successful year and what markets should they be looking to grow their business?

Identifying opportunities

As we all know, 2020 is a Drupa year and tens of thousands of professionals from across the global print industry will be descending on Düsseldorf to check in at the world’s largest print event. And while Drupa will be the main focus for many manufacturers on a global scale, those in the UK industry will be looking closer to home at events like The Print Show.

Next year, The Print Show will take place from September 27th to 29th at the NEC, featuring its first ever weekend day, making the event more accessible than ever before.

O Factoid: The Print Show 2020 will feature a weekend day for the first time in its history, running from September 27th to 29th at the NEC in Birmingham.  O

Organisers have already named a number of exhibitors for 2020, and also revealed that the 2020 show will run alongside brand new event The Sign Show.

The Print Show 2020 will feature exhibitors from all the key areas in print, with the idea of highlighting opportunities in major growth sectors

Looking ahead to the 2020 event and the year in general, event director Chris Davies says that The Print Show will again focus on the UK market, with the aim of helping UK print-service-providers to succeed and grow.

The Print Show 2020 will again include a special celebrity feature

“We all know Drupa is an incredible event and it’s certainly worth going along to experience the atmosphere in Germany,” Davies says, adding: “However, with The Print Show, UK professionals will once again have the opportunity to see the latest innovations under one roof, without having to leave the country.

“Next year, we’ll have our first ever weekend opening day, meaning that those who cannot make it during the working week will also be able to attend and see the latest developments.

“The Print Show 2020 will feature exhibitors from all the key areas in print, with the idea of highlighting opportunities in major growth sectors. And once again, we will be running our Diversification Zone, where we will be showcasing some of diversification markets available to print companies.

HP reported heavy footfall on its stand at The Print Show 2019, with many visitors seeking out new markets 

“Throw in the return of our immensely popular celebrity feature, and The Print Show will be an event not to be missed next September.”

Network and learn

Also weighing in with advice for the market is Phil McMullin, sales manager for Pro Graphics at Epson, who says the best way to keep up with the latest trends and developments is by visiting key industry events such as The Print Show.

McMullin says: “It’s a Drupa year, so expect a number of key launches from major manufacturers with Epson no exception. We will see both inkjet production and industrial equipment across pretty much all the application spaces we focus on.

“In the UK, make sure you attend events like The Print Show to keep up with the developments, especially if you can’t get to Drupa. Make sure you are addressing all of the printed branding opportunities within your existing customers as, if you, don’t someone else will.”

In terms of what McMullin thinks will be key areas in 2020, he has no hesitation in picking out one of the vital environmental considerations. McMullin says that green washing is out and genuine environmental solutions are in, and PSPs need to adapt in order to retain business from customers.

McMullin comments: “Expect to see a huge uplift in demand from the big brands, conscious of their customers’ desire to be more environmentally friendly. We can expect media manufacturers to launch new substrates to address this.”

Rapid change

Another digital print heavyweight in the form of HP also has plenty of advice for PSPs seeking success in 2020. Michael Lewis, large-format account manager at HP, picks out a number of areas to keep an eye on over the next 12 months.

Lewis says: “There is significant potential for growth in most textile segments; in particular apparel and décor – two sectors with progress to be made in the transition to digital methods. With the rapidly changing high street, the retail point-of-sale and signage sectors will continue to be challenged but this does present opportunities for those who continue to differentiate in a mature market.”

Focusing in on the market, Lewis list four key points to be aware of in 2020. First up is digital dominance and software to drive it, with Lewis advising that PSPs should look at software that can help them to take advantage of increased awareness and demand for digital print, and to make their print products and services more easily accessible to these new customers.

Next up is textiles, with Lewis saying the textile market will see great growth, not only for its sustainable and efficient offering but due also to increased digital use in segments like apparel and décor, which are still relatively untapped.

Lewis also cites continued development in interiors and personalisation, with locations like hotels, boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, offices, museums, airports and train stations wanting to create spaces that attract people and stay up to date with popular trends. According to Lewis logos and signs above the door are no longer enough, with flooring, wall coverings, blinds, table tops all needed to offer an experience that helps a brand tell its story consistently.

In addition, Lewis notes the importance of sustainability, with corporations set to be more focused on supply chain efficiency and phasing out materials that are harmful to our environment than ever before.

Lewis comments: “While HP has long been a leader in sustainable business practices – such as developing eco-certified inks and closed loop cartridge recycling programmes – firms that have been slow to think green will find increasingly eco-aware customers will take their business elsewhere.”

Going green

In terms of substrates and paper, where should PSPs be looking in 2020? Dave Jones, group marketing director of Premier Paper, says the industry is likely to see further growth in the digital arena next year and beyond.

Jones says: “This, together with the creativity and ingenuity of printers, will see even more amazing work being produced; which will help to entice the next generation of print professionals into this incredibly creative industry.

“Printers will continue to diversify into areas of print that provide profit opportunities such as wide-format and digital, while the growth of both SRA3 and B2 digital installations will continue in the sheet market. In addition, the high speed inkjet market, with its variable data capabilities, will also continue to develop as data is used more effectively to target customers special interests.”

Jones also picks up on the subject of sustainability, saying that there will be an even bigger focus on the environment in 2020 as customers demand more from their PSPs. Jones says print companies that adapt and ensure they are operating in a sustainable manner can look forward to success.

He expands: “2020 will see an increased focus on sustainability and the environment within the print industry, reflecting what is happening and being discussed generally throughout society. Companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and communicate their environmental credentials to the wider market could provide many opportunities for the print market.”

Also weighing in on the subject of sustainability is waste management specialist J&G Environmental, which works with PSPs to help them responsibly to dispose of their waste and recycle as much material as possible. General manager John Haines says the environment is more important than ever before to PSPs and they must respond to green demand.

Haines comments: “Such is the demand for environmentally friendly print that companies across the industry have no choice but to ensure they are operating as green as possible, so as to ensure repeat business and win new customers.

“Aside from the more traditional items that are recycled from the print process, such as waste paper, card, ink cartridges and packaging, print companies can take this so much further by looking to recycle and responsibly dispose of other items.”

Haines makes the point that recycling in print is much more than waste paper, with J&G Environmental having seen an increase in demand for its plastic recycling service. The company has brought in a number of new pieces of kit in order to strengthen its offering ahead of anticipated higher demand in 2020.

J&G Environmental says that PSPs should be looking to recycle more of their waste material, including plastics

Haines says: “Our Avery Weigh-Tronix ZM510 weigh-bridge logs the weights of different materials, while our new Rapid 8045 granulator is used for preparing waste plastic ready to be made into new products.

“By taking advantage of services such as this, you’re showing your customers that you are committed to sustainability and are able to meet their own green ambitions. Demand for responsible print is only going to increase in 2020 and beyond, so it’s important you are doing your bit for the environment.”

Positivity is key

Rounding up here is the Independent Print Industries Association (IPIA), and its chairman Mike Roberts says print is well versed with economic challenges due to political turmoil or indeed technological advances, but there is one key thing PSPs should strive for – a positive mindset.

IPIA chairman Mike Roberts calls for PSPs to take a positive mindset when it comes to planning for the future

Roberts says: “As businesses we must help ourselves with positive messaging, never mind the weather or the politics, but obviously based on reality. Too many within our industry talk of the ‘good old days’, not that many of us realised that at the time, but we have to look forward and make our tomorrows the ‘good days’.

“How do we do this? An important way is by making sure we develop the right opportunities for the markets we operate in. Only recently I have had a conversation with a major European supplier of print that is slowly waking up to the fact they need to listen to the market to develop their future opportunities, rather than push ‘what they can do’ down on the market – as simply the market has changed.”

The IPIA champions this positive approach with its EPIC event, where it seeks to create new print volumes for the industry through the collective education of the marketing industry.

Roberts comments: “Our EPIC event in July this year was such a storming success, it is hard to believe what it is achieving in such a short space of time. What is so critical to its momentum is that it is the connections we are making with the brands that allow us to deliver our value message. So, while it wasn’t directly a print conference like the ‘old days’, it was about our place in the marketing mix.”

Although the future of the UK remains uncertain due to ongoing troubles with Brexit, one thing that is for sure is that there is plenty to be positive about in the print world. With a whole host of trends to look out for in 2020, there is lots to get excited about as we head into the New Year.

Here’s to a successful 12 months!

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