Informa Exhibitions is to reposition the trade exhibition as a digital and cross-media event, building on the integration of its Cross Media show, with a heavy emphasis on educational and market insight content.
The show will also shift from eight days to six and organiser Informa has reduced the gross floor plan target from 100,000sqm to 60,000sqm.
Event director Trevor Crawford said: "Clearly our exhibitors and visitors are moving their businesses in different directions and we need to absolutely mirror that change and provide solutions and ideas to address those challenges.
"But we’re absolutely the event for PSPs [print service providers], we’re not walking away from that and it remains absolutely key to what we do. But we also have to attract the end users of print."
The change in focus is driven by international visitor research centred on more than 100 in-depth interviews and quantitative online surveys completed by 1,600 past Ipex visitors.
"The seven key trends that came out of it were: there’s a significant level of consolidation amongst PSPs in developed economies; the decline of offset litho in many of the same markets; the rise of digital; the fact that PSPs are offering more non-print related services; the growth of printed packaging, in this context pre-formed digital and some flexo; the growth of emerging markets, and not just the obvious ones; and the role of multichannel marketing not just for printers, but for the new audiences too," said Crawford.
He also highlighted research that demonstrated that digital print revenues were rising at a compound annual growth rate of close to 10%, compared to a 1.5% decline in litho. However, the research did demonstrate that litho revenues globally were still forecast to be $329 bililon in 2014, compared to $131 billion for digital.
AMR’s research of Ipex visitors from 2010, 2006, and 2002 found that 76% offer digital printing and that more than 75% said digital was expected to increase in importance over the next three years, compared to 48% for post-press, 40% for pre-media and just 7% for offset litho.
"That’s not to say that they’re all going to buy digital presses or post-press kit, it simply highlights which areas they place the most importance on," said Crawford.
The research also highlighted that 44% of Ipex visitors do not visit Drupa, with almost half of those citing digital print as being their strongest interest areas and an area that they planned to invest in.
"Up to 2010, Ipex was a large scale, broad-based printing show and a show that for many people just competed on a smaller scale to Drupa, but even with that proposition the new visitors coming to the show were focused largely on digital and in terms of square metres digital only represented 40% of the show," said Crawford.
Despite the high-profile withdrawals of some leading digital vendors, Crawford said he was confident that Ipex was still a credible digital event.
"Don’t forget we still have major digital players on the floor, like Ricoh, Canon, Screen, Konica, Fujifilm, the list goes on. The dialogue continues with the others and the doors have never been closed and I think there will be some interesting announcements to come," he said.
The 25% reduction in duration was approved by a meeting of the Ipex Advisory Council (IAC) last week, with the other 250 exhibitors informed of the decision yesterday.
Crawford is confident that the shorter duration will not impact on projected visitor numbers, circa 55,000, and while the shorter duration will not lower Informa’s floor rates, he said it would significantly reduce exhibitors’ costs in areas such as accommodation and services, as will as reducing the staffing commitment involved in manning stands.
"We’re not spending any less; this isn’t a cost cutting exercise for Informa. The vast majority of exhibitors are SMEs themselves, and resourcing a show over eight days is a big issue – so I think the vast majority will really welcome the move. If we can do what we did in 2010 even better over a really focussed show over six days then that’s great, it will save them money," said Crawford.
Along with a new focus on digital applications, shorter duration and the previously unveiled integration of Cross Media and £1m international delegation programme, Informa has also revealed a number of added value features to boost visitor ROI.
The flagship content initiative will be the World Print Summit, which has the sub heading of "strategies and practices of outstanding leadership in the challenging business of offline and online marketing". Informa is currently recruiting "big name, big brand" speakers from the print, creative and agency communities to speak at the Summit, which will run each morning of the show.
Ipex will also play host to the Printers’ Profit Zone in a dedicated theatre and four master class seminar streams on the show floor: sustainability; wide-format; digital; and packaging as well as the dedicated Cross Media educational content.
"I think all of these enhancements means that we are a far more attractive and appealing proposition from the show that some vendors withdrew from," said Crawford.
"We’re clearly shifting from that broad-based, generalist, all encompassing print show to something that is absolutely focussed on being a digital media and communications event with fantastic content. Because it’s the content that really drives people to shows like Ipex."
[Related: More Ipex news]
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