Seminar with RIT Professor Emeritus Frank Romano - duomedia’s Lut Verschueren reports
No badges left at the reception desk in the European Auditorium in Turnhout for Frank Romano’s VIGC seminar on June 21. A packed auditorium and appreciative audience for this well-respected, knowledgeable and entertaining industry guru. He delivers a great review of drupa, and offers an international perspective and unique insight on the trends shaping the printing industry. Sharp, to the point, sweet … and amusingly controversial when stating that Landa’s technology announced at drupa was a great show, just not all that revolutionary. A very refreshing, well-packaged, truly informative session in a time when we all suffer from ‘infobesity.’
The winners and losers
Diminishing print volumes affect the entire printing industry. In the US alone, 50% of print has gone away since 1995. In the current climate of huge technology upheaval, everyone is competing fiercely with one another. And we’re seeing a great shift towards multi-channel marketing. All this has had an impact on print products – some of which will disappear, while new products will emerge and grow.
Another huge change is the demand for short runs (under 2,000 copies). And then there’s the inexorable rise of digital printing – it already enjoys a 15% market share, and this is set to rise as the technology is embraced everywhere.
In commercial printing, the two largest segments are advert/promo (24%) and packaging (15%). The book market is still performing well, but without the big runs. A decline in page count – due to the decrease in advertising – and circulation, means there’s a growing opportunity in digital for periodicals.
When it comes to catalogues, which encourage recipients to call, click or visit, Romano says there will be a shift toward even greater personalization. And what about the billion-dollar question: will newspapers survive? “Until 2049,” shrugs Romano. As for directories, there is agreement that they will die.
Promotional printing was identified as a growth category (for digital, hence the short runs) and will remain a mainstay of the commercial printer’s output. Direct mail is expected to stick around, but its success depends on the efficiency of postal systems.
Technical documents like manuals and guides are predicted to be on their way out. There is potential, however, for printing legal and financial documents.
The decline in printing of traditional office documentation will continue, but the outlook is brighter in the stationery business, where there are growth opportunities.
Romano describes packaging as “the only area that has no electronic competition” and “the last 12 inches of the marketing program.” He asserts that this market offers huge potential for printers. He also claims that for those bringing viable solutions in film printing for flexible packaging and other applications, a great future lies ahead.
Printers that have embraced large format have discovered new markets. But it is industrial printing that offers the greatest potential. Think textiles, plastics, glass, printed electronics. What’s produced is unique, and people are willing to pay a premium for it.
Romano acknowledged that there is confusion in the market when it comes to print technology, saying there are ‘too many’ alternatives.
He acknowledged that offset people wouldn’t appreciate his view, but stated that in today’s multi-media landscape, digital inkjet is where the world is heading. Today’s printer is evolving into an information-making factory.
Romano expects that while the printing industry will stabilize in 2013, the market will continue to change. “VIGC helps you understand these changes,” he concluded.
Finally, despite the flood of announcements at drupa, Romano believes a lot of news has been held back, and anticipates more PR activity in the fall. If he’s right and there is to be a torrent of PR and marketing initiatives, you can expect duomedia to be at the forefront. Stay tuned!