Industry experts analyze 2012 and project where the market will be in 2013.
Dan Marx, SGIA: Although the US economy has been lagging, and employment has been flat, our surveys show that wide-format producers are, by and large, quite optimistic about the current state of the industry and for the year ahead. In fact, as a group, they show an expected annual growth rate of 12.6 percent. Indicators on production, sales, and equipment purchase continue to be strong, even if the economy outside our walls is kind of “blah.” As for a movie title, I’d look to the number of big companies acquiring smaller companies and propose, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
Tim Greene, InfoTrends: Our research indicates that there are some positive signs, but that, like last year, visibility is low in the long term. People that answered our survey early in 2012 reported an average growth expectation of around 14 percent, but since then I think the economic troubles in Europe, poor retail activity numbers, and maybe even the US election has become more of a distraction. I’m optimistic for a better pace of business through the second half of this year. For film titles for 2013, I will say The Quick and the Dead. By that I mean companies that serve customers the best, companies that add new capabilities and can effectively sell those capabilities, and the companies that find and establish themselves within those profitable niches and profitable services the fastest will ultimately have a big advantage over their competitors.
Peter Mayhew, LightWords Ltd: I’m optimistic for the wide-format industry this year. The message has been heard loud and clear that effective and measurable marketing is essential to survival through this recession. This means there’s a key role for the wide-format print service provider who offers differentiated and compelling products and services. As for film titles, as the regulations begin to gather, state by state, for digital billboards and signage, how about, A Man for All Seasons, with the line often used in US court opinion: “I know what’s legal, not what’s right. And I’ll stick to what’s legal.”
Marco Boer, I.T. Strategies: The next 12 months are all about taking risks on innovation. We’re in a state-of-the-industry life cycle where mainstream print volumes are heading downward, often both in volume and price per square foot. Shops need to take advantage of high-margin, fast growing specialties – soft signage, digitally printed promotional goods like smartphone cover cases, and applications that can often put one in uncomfortable, unchartered territory. Note that the investment in entering these applications extends well beyond the new hardware that’s required; in fact, the biggest cost is probably in the learning curve on how to most efficiently sell these new applications.
Next up in Part 2 of our 2012 Industry Roundtable: Acquisitions and Megers....