2017 Mid-Year Report and 2018 Preview

An update to this report is available for sale: Printing Forecast 2018

Insights from the WhatTheyThink June 2017 Printing Industry Survey describe opportunities
and challenges print business leaders see for enterprises of all sizes. Trends are in the survey
are placed in economic context with an actionable perspective by Dr. Joe Webb and Richard

This executive report is based on the latest results of the WhatTheyThink print executive survey and was prepared by Dr. Joe Webb and Richard Romano. It details the state of the industry at mid-2017 and looks ahead to what can be expected, economically and technologically, as we head toward 2018. The foundation of the report is the WhatTheyThink Printing Industry Survey of June 2017. This survey of more than 300 industry executives gauged their current business conditions, top business challenges, and planned investments for 2018. They also described how the volume for offset, color digital, black-and-white digital, and wide-format  printing, as well as non-print-based services has changed. The survey also covered several sales, employment, and outsourcing questions, as well as their planned attendance at upcoming industry events and shows.

The report also includes the latest government data on printing industry shipments and establishments, as the general economy. Dr. Webb offers his take on the dynamics of business conditions and their outlook, and Mr. Romano discerns the hot and cold and in-between technology trends as we head toward PRINT 17 and beyond. The report also includes Dr. Webb’s US printing industry forecast to 2021.

Print business owners will find the report essential for their planning, because it puts the marketplace and their strategic actions in realistic and objective perspective. Industry suppliers will benefit from the insights into printer decision-making processes.

“We commented in our earlier Forecast 2017 report that there were indications in the data that ‘storm clouds were brewing,’ and the latest printing shipments data show that those clouds look more ominous,” said Dr. Joe Webb. “Executives and business leaders should resist the urge to hunker down—it’s time to take decisive action to ‘weatherproof’ their businesses.”

“If there’s a theme to this report it’s ‘productivity,’” added Richard Romano. “Managing production—due to a number of factors—is the biggest problem shops have today, and they’re seeking a variety of solutions for dealing with those productivity challenges. It may seem like having more work than you can handle is, as they say, a ‘good problem to have,’ but that kind of problem puts production under stress and can hinder productivity and profits. That needs to resolved with new investments.”


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