Print innovation research lets businesses benchmark against peers

A new research project is calling for Australian print business owners to share information on their broad business strategies, with participants able to benchmark their innovation performance against their peers.

The cross-country project is being run through Griffith University with the support of the Print and Visual Communication Association (PVCA), All Japan Federation of Printing Industry Association, and Osaka Printing Association.

It looks at the actions that are taken by successful firms in the printing industry, with early results pointing to specific measurable actions that any business can take in order to grow, innovate and improve their business – without the need to buy new kit or invest in expensive technology.

The team has interviewed entrepreneurs in the printing industry in both Australia and Japan and found that printing companies that are successful,  are constantly reinventing themselves, they expand into new markets using new technologies with a flexibility that gives them the chance to respond to turbulent market forces. 

Project leader, Gareth Thomas says, “There’s a popular misconception that innovation only happens in the software and online industries in booming markets. We deliberately chose an industry that is doing it tough for our study, and we are still seeing highly creative and innovative printing entrepreneurs in both countries reinventing their companies and moving into exciting new directions.

“Print entrepeneurs do not often see themselves at innovators, but our research has already shown that Australian businesses are adept at incremental innovation, finding ways to make small improvements gradually at a time.

“They are strong at finding new applications and revenue streams.”

By researching Japanese and Australian businesses simultaneously, some comparisons can be made. The printing industry culture in Japan, reflective of the country’s work culture more generally, centers on a focus on quality for businesses to differentiate themselves.

Australian companies look for more product differentiation, creating products that are different, or interesting as a way of marketing themselves. The new product is often used that to open doors for the business, and win the customer over.

Thomas notes that, “Australian companies are also a lot more dynamic in the way they respond to changes in relation to the internet, accepting and adapting to it, using it to grow their businesses. In Japan there is a lot more pushback on the internet from the printing industry.”

Andrew Macaulay, CEO, PVCA, notes, “Innovation is not a word that a lot of the industry have confidence with. They are genuine innovators.

“But it is a high-technology, capital intensive industry that is constantly innovating. It is finding new ways to deliver more with less, more efficiently, for wider benefit with their customers.

“The nature of the work they are doing puts them at the forefront of innovation. They are utilising cutting-edge technology to give their customers commercial advantage, who are often in a highly-competitive retail or trade environment.”

The questionaire can be completed here (, with all participants to be given a personalised report on how their business compares to similar sized companies, and rated on their innovation endeavours.

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