North America, the greatest market for consumerism, has changed. Bailouts to large integrated companies are in the spotlight. Retirement savings are in jeopardy. How it has all happened is not clearly understood. The Graphic Arts industry has had to deal with tightened credit and decreasing margins for a long time.
The root of a difficult Print market is the internet. Not since television has our industry had to re-adjust itself in order to accommodate another communications medium. At first there was denial. Then, there began cleansing. Not only the internet but the computer itself has made many forms of Print unnecessary. Data in all forms whether it be newspapers, books, directories or sales literature have all or partially been replaced by the internet.
News is still important, but no one will wait for a paper to be printed in order to read it. Directories can be easily surfed on-line and research is now a lot faster than leafing through a book. These things we know. To our industry, it has left some companies out in the cold while others have struggled to find new markets.
The people that make the machinery we have in our pressrooms spend a great deal of time developing machinery and systems to produce Print faster and cheaper than ever before. They know that they must continue to lower the costs of Print as that is their only way to survive and be relevant.
Just think of how we planned and produced printing a few years ago. The typical model of a printing company does not work any longer. However, Print itself is still very relevant. Because of the low cost of using the internet and email, there is no possibility that if it is used as a ways of communicating a product, it will be seen. There is so much junk zipping around the net that we all realize that being low cost and/or free means there is absolutely no way of getting attention. The message gets classed the same.
That's where Print has its opportunity. Being able to get a message at low cost direct to someone does get their attention! Sure they can order Print from you on-line, great! But, the message is what's important. Technology has really changed the cost in-put in our industry. Now the model is design, produce, mail. Large format signage is easy and cheap. Mailing equipment is now found more often in printing plants. All sorts of fulfillment equipment as well as digital short run machines are the norm.
This is the opportunity we have today and to keep within the communications industry we have to keep up with pressroom technology. Stay current and updated.