Printing Outlook 2021 – The WhatTheyThink Overview of the Current State of the Printing Industry

The new Printing Outlook 2021 report provides detailed analysis of the latest WhatTheyThink Business Outlook Survey, the latest industry economic data and macroeconomic trends, as well as industry and cultural technological trends to look out for in 2021.

The executive report looks back at 2020 as well as ahead to what the industry can expect, economically and technologically, in 2021 as the economy at large and the industry in particular begins its recovery. Are we indeed headed for recovery in 2021? What pre-existing trends have been amplified by the pandemic, and what new trends have emerged? How will they play out in 2021 and beyond?

The report features the results of the WhatTheyThink Printing Industry Business Outlook Survey conducted in Fall 2020, and includes current and expected business conditions, top business challenges, top business opportunities, and planned investments for 2020. Additional questions asked about respondents’ attitudes toward—and attendance at—virtual events, as well as shops’ hiring plans for the next 12 months.

Highlights:

  • More than one-fourth (28%) of print businesses surveyed said that revenues for 2020 had decreased more than 25% compared to 2019.
  • On the other hand, 10% said that revenues had stayed basically the same, and, for a happy 12%, revenues increased in 2020 compared to 2019. How did they manage that?
  • The pandemic is on everyone’s mind: the number one business challenge this survey is “regaining business lost due to COVID,” selected by 55% of respondents, with number two being “keeping my employees safe from COVID,” selected by 40% of respondents.
  • The industry seems to be in “hunker down and wait out the storm” mode: improving economic conditions” is the top opportunity, cited by 50% of respondents, followed by “national recovery from COVID-19,” cited by 48% of respondents. One new opportunity we added—“producing post-COVID print materials” was only selected by 11% of respondents.
  • One-fourth (24%) of our respondents have no planned investments for 2021—although, in our pre-COVID 2019 survey, 32% said they had no planned investments for 2020.
  • One-half of our respondents have hiring plans for 2021.

The report also offers the latest government data on printing industry shipments, establishments, profits, and employment, as well as the economy in general, and includes an industry forecast to 2030, as well as some technology and cultural trends the industry should prepare itself for in 2021.

Print business owners will find the report essential for their planning, in order to put the marketplace and their strategic actions in realistic perspective. Industry suppliers will benefit from the insights into printer decision-making processes and the foundation of new industry demographic data that debuts in this report. Non-economic trends also offer ideas for what to pay attention to in the new year, and larger cultural and technological; trends indicate where marketing professionals and brandowners will likely be focusing their promotional dollars.

What’s included in this report

  1. BUSINESS CONDITIONS – Revenues, Jobs/Orders, Profitability
  2. CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES, AND INVESTMENTS – Top Business Challenges, Planned 2021 Investments
  3. IN-PERSON AND VIRTUAL EVENTS
  4. HIRING PLANS
  5. GRAPHIC COMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY ECONOMIC TRENDS
  6. MACROECONOMIC DATA
  7. INDUSTRY TRENDS AND FORECAST
  8. APPENDIX A. METHODOLOGY AND QUESTIONNAIRE