Uken 8-12 mai er det igjen tid for Fespas store europeiske tilstelning – denne gangen i Hamburg. Samtidig er det klart at denne messen, som først var treårig, nå kommer tilbake hvert eneste år. Neste år blir det Berlin, fulgt av Hamburg året derpå. Men i år skal det være i Hamburg, hvilket blant annet innebærer at besøkere fra Oslo kan ta fergen til Kiel og med tog på en drøy time være helt fremme ved messen. Eller så kan man ta fly.
Årets overgripende tema har messesjef Neal Fenton fastsatt til «Dare to print different» – Våg å trykke annerledes. Han sikter da til at tre fjerdedeler av alle trykkere sier at det er kundenes ønsker som driver dem i forskjellige retninger. Over 80 % av trykkeriene regner også med å vokse innen stoff, dekor og emballasje.
Men de tror også at det er mer å hente innen tradisjonelle områder. 49 prosent tror på vekst for bannere, 40 prosent for plakater, 38 prosent for skiltproduksjon og 37 prosent for utendørsreklame.
En stor majoritet tror også at deres storformatsdel kommer til å påvirkes av digital signage. Fespa møter dette behovet gjennom å ha en egen avdeling – European Sign Expo – nettopp for informasjon som kun presenteres på skjerm.
45 prosent av de spurte trykkeriene planlegger å investere for å gå inn på helt nye markeder. Så det er stor forventning når dørene åpner på Fespa 2017 den 8. mai.
THE FESPA CHALLENGE — ‘DARE TO PRINT DIFFERENT’
The strapline for May’s FESPA 2017 — ‘Dare to Print Different’ — can be read two ways. On the one hand, it acknowledges the entrepreneurialism that has fuelled wide format’s growth over the last decade; according to the latest FESPA Census, overall revenues grew at a CAGR of about 9% between 2007 and 2015. On the other, it challenges wide format and speciality printers to stay brave, using FESPA 2017 to explore the latest innovations and create new products and services to showcase their creativity and build their customer base. Meanwhile, the stunning image accompanying the strapline — a robotic hand releasing a brilliantly-coloured butterfly — highlights the essential role technology plays in the process.
But strapline and image do more than simply promote FESPA 2017 as an important venue for the wide format community. They are also powerful reminders of how printing — and what it means to be a printer — have changed in the digital era. Several of the overarching trends identified by the FESPA Census reinforce this message. For example, the Census noted the continued shift away from high-volume commodity print and towards customised, higher-margin products. It reported a much tighter focus by PSPs on the evolving needs and expectation of their customers. And it found that while manufacturing economics remain an important factor in allocating capital expenditure, strategic planning is equally important, with 45% of those investing doing so to move into new markets with new products and services.
Digital media competitors may have made the printing industry smaller — there are fewer PSPs and overall volumes have fallen — but they have made PSPs’ horizons much wider. Pre-digital, printing was a smaller, more predictable world. Offset and screen were well-established stable technologies, the variety of printed products was limited and familiar, and customers’ demands — what they wanted, and when — were also largely predictable. Under these conditions, manufacturing economics were what usually determined investment; new equipment was needed to speed production, add capacity or improve quality. For most businesses, ‘the competition’ was the printer down the road — not the volatile, fast-moving world of digital media.
In this world, printers could survive and prosper simply by continuing to do what they had always done. They didn’t need to be constantly on the lookout for competitor technologies. Neither did they need to concern themselves with what their customers were doing; it’s doubtful many printers showed much interest in why a customer needed a particular print job.
Today, print is just one medium among many competing for a slice of the marketing budget, but it is a medium with unique advantages. Digital media cannot match print’s multisensory quality, its ability to exploit and enhance so many materials. At a time when digital communication has shortened people’s attention spans, print can make them stop, feel and think. Print has the all important element of surprise.
None of this is news to the thousands of PSPs travelling to Hamburg in May — they know all about print’s advantages. Unlike their predecessors, they also know what their customers want, and why. This is clear from the FESPA Census, which painted a picture of an energised community in which business leaders’ strategies for the future are based on responding to clients’ changing needs and diversifying their product portfolios accordingly.
It is an optimistic community, in which 80% of respondents to the Census were very, or fairly, optimistic about their business prospects. This optimism is largely founded on a grasp of what is happening both inside and outside their own businesses. Over 70% recognise that customers’ needs are driving change, for example. And they are ready to venture outside what they know to take wide-format technology into new areas; hence while there is a familiar look to the top four applications — banners (49%), posters (40%), signs (38%) and billboards (37%) — almost 80% of PSPs report increased demand for garments, décor and packaging samples. Many PSPs — over 75% — also anticipate that digital display will impact their wide format business in the foreseeable future, which suggests that the European Sign Expo event for non-printed signage will prove a popular draw.
‘Dare to Print Different’ is a clear, resounding call to the FESPA community, to arrive with the ambition to explore and identify something that could expand their boundaries and give them fresh impetus. For many PSPs, ‘Dare to Print Different’ is not only an acknowledgment and a challenge, but a mantra that they already live by.