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German Sacristan, Eve Padula

Adapting to Change

The Only Way toward Sustainability and Success

Jul 27, 2020 12:22:28 PM


Charles Darwin, an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist who was best known for his contributions to the science of evolution, was truly ahead of his time. Two centuries ago, he made a statement that remains true in our daily lives and markets even today.



Nothing is certain in today’s environment. It would not be out of the question to hear that one of the biggest or strongest businesses within the printing market is struggling or even going out of business, even as some smaller print companies seem to be thriving. On a more global scale, people who are living through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are responding in a variety of ways. Whereas some communities, cities, states, and countries are thriving in response to the required changes or suggestions, others continue to struggle.


Some individuals, by their very nature, struggle more with change than others. Other people take issue when they realize that the modifications they want to see are not necessarily the ones that need to happen. In any case, the individuals and businesses with a natural instinct for adapting to the changes that do come their way tend to be the most successful.


Here at Keypoint Intelligence, our responsibility is to conduct research so we can educate our clients about ongoing market trends. As we work to inform our customers, we must also enable and support their growth by providing the right recommendations and strategies that will help them navigate any negative market trends. 


According to our most recent survey data, overall color digital printing volumes in 2020 are expected to decline at a rate of about 20% due to the economic downturn associated with COVID-19. Digital printing equipment sales in some production color segments are expected to be hit even harder, and some might plunge by as much as -45% in 2020. At the same time, however, other production color segments are expected to fare quite well—thanks to capital investments, cost of operations, ongoing improvements in quality, and the number of applications that can be run through these devices as a result, high-speed production inkjet cut-sheet devices are expected to do better. Subscribers to Keypoint Intelligence’s On Demand consulting services can view all the forecast details (2020- 2024) in the US and Western Europe.


Strategies for Success

As we continue to navigate through the pandemic, how can we adapt to ongoing changes in a way that is aligned with the future direction of the market while also minimizing the effects of any negative outcomes? Here are a few ideas:


  • Digital printing manufacturers and vendors focus on selling digital printing equipment. Market data tells us that general equipment sales will be declining much more than print volumes, which makes sense as many print service providers (PSPs) are deferring their investments due to the crisis. These same PSPs are also struggling to sell whatever they can produce on their current presses. Wouldn’t it therefore make more sense for digital printing vendors to focus on enabling print volume sustainability? This might help slow down the decline in print volumes, increase their annuity business potential, and even improve the chance of selling more printing presses as PSPs would have more peace of mind with greater print volume stability.
  • Our most recent research also indicates that catalogs in the US are expected to decline by 30% or more during 2020 in the current environment. At the same time, however, catalogs might also have a unique opportunity in today’s landscape. Even as stay-at-home mandates are lifting and countries are beginning to re-open, many consumers remain hesitant to venture out to high-traffic areas. Mailed catalogs can be a great way to encourage these consumers to shop online amid ongoing health concerns, and recent statistics back this up. In fact, an article in the Harvard Business Review asserts that response rates to mailed catalogs increased by 170% between 2004 and 2018.
  • Recent estimations confirm that mailed magazines under subscription aren’t experiencing a strong decline, so this might be a great time for publishers to further increase their value (and potential revenues) by incorporating a geo-marketing strategy. If advertisers could customize their messaging to certain geographic areas, response rates would likely improve. Furthermore, more readers might be more open to an online format during the pandemic. If this proves to be the case, run lengths would be reduced and might create additional opportunities for digital printing.
  • Transactional printing is another area that is not expected to decline—even in a down economy, brands will still need to send bills and statements to customers on a regular basis. The timing might be right to revisit the TransPromo concept, particularly as brands are more focused on any strategy that can help grow their businesses. Used correctly, TransPromo messaging on “must read” documents like bills and statements could carry an increased value as consumers are seeking guidance and direction from their providers now more than ever before. At the same time, however, it should be remembered that the purpose of transactional documents remains the same—informing consumers of their recent purchases or other activities. It will always be important to resist overloading transactional documents with irrelevant or ill-timed marketing solicitations.
  • As brands strive to become more focused, strategic, and relevant in the future, variable data printing might also experience a resurgence. Any printing embellishments that can help capture the attention of more recipients during a marketing campaign can also elevate the perception of a brand’s value and its products/services.


The Bottom Line

According to an old saying, timing is everything. Even in today’s uncertain times, those who use their timing wisely to adapt to ongoing changes will likely come out stronger. Some individuals and businesses always find a way to thrive even in the worst of times, and these are often the ones that are most flexible and adaptive to change.