Fespa has published the headline findings of its 2023 Print Census. They highlight the impact of rising sustainability demands and evolving customer requirements on business models and investment plans.

Conducted in partnership with InfoTrends, a division of Keypoint Intelligence, this year’s Census further explored the long-term trends that emerged from the analysis of the 2018 Print Census, including revenue and industry outlook, the rise of environmental pressures, changing customer demands, future investment and purchasing plans, and business models and strategies.

This survey saw a 26.5 per cent increase in participants from the previous one in 2018. It included 1,778 printers and sign makers from over 120 countries. Respondents defined their business focus as graphics, 61 per cent; signage, 26 per cent; textiles, 24 per cent; and industrial, 14 per cent.

The key 2023 Print Census findings include:

Revenue increase and industry outlook.

The market outlook remains positive in line with the results from 2018, with 71 per cent of respondents stating that they are optimistic about the future of their business, despite the considerable economic challenges of the past five years. The survey further highlighted that the industry is adapting to the changing landscape and finding new opportunities for growth. In accordance with this, respondents reported a seven per cent average revenue increase since the 2018 Census.

Growing demand for sustainability

The Census reaffirmed that the pressure on printers and sign makers to be more sustainable continues to rise. Around 72 per cent of print buyers requested environmentally friendly products and practices. A quarter of respondents shared that their customers cared most about sustainable products. Meanwhile, 12 per cent identified a focus on sustainable manufacturing. However, the majority of printers (36 per cent) disclosed that their customers cared about both. The perceived cost increases are often a barrier to sustainable production, but 70 per cent of the respondents shared that they can address sustainability demands without raising their prices and a further 22 per cent advised that they already raised pricing without impact on sales.

Customer demand continues to change the market

Changing customer requirements continues to change the industry. These including quicker turnaround times, more personalisation and versioning options, and shorter print runs. 67 per cent of responses showed an increase in the demand for faster turnaround. 58 per cent noted a rise in requests for shorter runs. 56 per cent highlighted the upsurge in interest for more versioning and personalisation. Only 38 per cent noted an increase in the demand for more complex logistic requirements.

Wide format purchasing plans

Respondents share an interest in buying technology that can streamline production and provide greater application flexibility. For the 201 respondents who own screen printing and wide format equipment, UV-curable Inkjet (27 per cent), eco-solvent Inkjet (18 per cent) and CNC finishing (17 per cent) are the highest priority for their purchasing plans.

Business expansion drives investment

For planned technological investments, 55 per cent of respondents want to enter new markets and expand their service and application offerings. In addition, 53 per cent have a focus on enhancing print quality and 52 per cent want to reduce the unit cost.

Graeme Richardson-Locke, head of associations and technical lead at Fespa, says, “It is a really positive result to see our community so optimistic not only about the future of our industry, but also about the growth potential of their businesses.

“The survey once again cemented that one of the key challenges printers and sign makers are currently facing are the ever-changing customer demands and the growing need for sustainable solutions. Thanks to the responses from our community, we can now develop and evolve our offering to tailor it, but above all, we hope that the Census findings will help our community to benchmark themselves against similar businesses globally, and to make informed choices for their future.”

The full 2023 Print Census report is available free of charge to members of Fespa national associations and Fespa Direct corporate members.

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