Printing – the process of putting an image onto a substrate, usually paper – for the purposes of conveying a message. While this is one definition, it is very limited as a description of what print really is. Think about the printed items which you surround yourself with every single day.
Whether you buy them or not, there are newspapers, magazines and books. There is packaging of the various items you buy, everything from a chewing gum wrapper to fast food containers. There are the promotional materials which are thrust through your car window at an intersection to the inserts you receive in your local freesheet newspaper on a weekly basis and even the billboards and posters which you see on the sides of the road your way to work each day. All of this is printed.
Print plays a far more influential role in our daily lives than many of us give credit to – even those of us in the printing industry. At a recent industry conference one of the speakers referred to print as ‘the original virtual reality’ based on the fact that it is an outside element which directly influences and changes our thoughts and perceptions.
If we consider the contribution made by the various sectors of the printing industry to the economy of the country, we can see that it is significant. It is estimated that the printing industry in this country employs 45000 permanent staff. This figure only includes those companies which are registered. In addition as many as 15000 additional staff are employed on a temporary or casual basis. Using an average of four people dependent on that income means that almost a quarter of a million people earn their income directly from the printing industry – and those are only the ones who work for companies registered with the industry body. There are numerous others who are not. As a result, the number of people earning a living from the printing industry is quite considerable. Those 60 000+ people currently contribute as much as four per cent to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.
Printing has undergone a major shake-up in recent years with a number of companies closing down and many more being involved in mergers – House of Print is one of those. There has been a considerable decline in the volumes being printed. This has been a global trend. Print runs have declined and volumes have shifted from one sector to another. One of the factors which is ‘blamed’ for this shift is the internet which has seen many previously printed items moving to electronic format. In the local market, this shift is still in full swing. However, in the markets of Europe and the United States there is a move back to print.
While no figures are available for the local market, the United States is showing growth in sectors which has previously been in decline. Revenue generated from sectors such as advertising – inserts, newspaper adverts, billboards, promotional items and direct marketing – are all increasing, almost returning to the levels that they had achieved before the decline began.
Two areas which are showing above-average rates of growth are signage (+5 per cent) and packaging (+7 per cent). Both of these have elements of advertising but also feature other elements including print. Another sector which is showing signs of resurgence is books. Many thought that the age of the printed book was over, that movies and electronic readers had put the final nail in the coffin of the printed book. It seems, however, that books are making a come-back and even Amazon, which was seen as the end of mass-produced books is going to be opening as many 400 bookstores across America.
Print is by no means dead and is even starting to grow again. While the ‘glory days’ of print may never return, print is evolving and changing and the end result may see print have an even bigger influence than we ever through possible. Speak to us to find out how we can help to turn your concepts into printed reality with real impact.