Market changes caused by COVID-19 favour inkjet: Smithers

Although print output for wide-format and other signage applications are recovering from a downturn at the beginning of the decade, the outlook is still challenging as new priorities are established in printed advertising, point-of-sale (PoS) signage, posters, decals, and vehicle graphics, a new study by Smithers has found.

The report, entitled The Future of Printed Signage in a Digital World to 2028, reveals that a total of 10.08 billion square metres of signage media will be printed globally this year, down from 10.81 billion in 2019.

By value, this segment was worth US$45.4 billion ($67.76 billion) in 2019, which fell sharply to US$36.8 billion ($54.93 billion) in 2020. In 2023, the global printed signage market total value will be worth US$40.9 billion ($ 61.05 billion).

Smithers analysis shows that the sector is approaching the end of its post-COVID recovery curve, and is now beginning to plateau.

Its dedicated market forecast is for signage print volumes to increase moderately at a 0.7 per cent compound annual growth rate to reach 10.4 billion metres square in 2028. Sales value will be slower to rebound with a marginal CAGR of 0.2 per cent forecast for the same period.

With any genuine expansion coming from Asia and other developing economies, the total value will reach US$41.4 billion ($61.79 billion) in 2028 at constant prices, Smithers said.

Smithers tracks the market outlook for seven different formats of both indoor and outdoor signage across 26 national and regional markets for a 10-year period.

It says the transition away from physical signage is most advanced in economies with greatest access to the Internet. Advertisers are increasingly targeting consumers via social media, websites or other online channels; while the increased preference for e-commerce is damaging the outlook for retail formats.

Simultaneously there has been investment in electronic signage that can reproduce static physical adverts – as well as video and touchscreen functionality – but there is a significant up-front capital cost.

Smithers reported that this effect is most evident in reduced volumes of large permanent or semi-permanent formats; such as posters, billboards, sails, and hot air balloons. The outlook is more positive in retail signage, mainly various PoS display formats.

In-store signage is seen as an important tool to draw shoppers back through the doors for physical retail, and there is innovation to use such media to link to the online world and integrate with multi-platform marketing campaigns. This is pushing OEMs and print service providers to improve the range of value-adding effects on printed signage, as well as diversifying their product mix.

According to the report, the regions where genuine growth will occur over the next five years are concentrated in major Asian markets like India and China, Latin America, and parts of Eastern Europe; tracking the roll out of supermarket retailing and other amenities to a growing, but not yet fully digitalised consumer base.

Further sub-dividing the market by print process, the report indicates that market changes caused by COVID-19 are directly favouring inkjet systems, and the process will progressively take share from analogue competitors, including offset litho, screen and ‘other’.

This, it said, reflects several factors, including the adoption superior printhead technology, inks, coatings, and signage media on wide format inkjet.

Furthermore, Smithers reports that as print run lengths for signage trend downwards, inkjet is increasingly cost-competitive against analogue. It anticipates that the greatest losses will be in screen printing, with marginal decline in offset litho production, contrasting with inkjet growing at a 1.2 per cent CAGR, globally.

Smithers’ comprehensive dataset also tracks the impact on demand for signage media. This shows a greater use of coated woodfree, other paperboard, and new textile materials, in signage printing across the next five years.

This essential business strategy guide to this fast-evolving print sector is available to purchase now.

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