Fespa Print Census 2023:
Increasing sustainability requirements and changing customer demands

FESPA has published the key findings of its Print Census 2023, conducted in collaboration with InfoTrends, a division of Keypoint Intelligence. According to the findings, sustainability requirements are increasing and customer demands are changing in terms of business models and investment plans.

This year’s Census also took a closer look at long-term trends that emerged from the Print Census 2018 analysis, including the outlook for industry revenue growth, increasing environmental requirements, changing customer demands, plans for future investments and purchases, and business models and strategies. The survey included 1,778 print service providers, sign and signage manufacturers, 26.5% more than the previous Print Census published in May 2018. The companies surveyed cited graphics (61%), signage (26%), textiles (24%) and industrial applications (14%) as their main areas of business.

Outlook for turnover development
As with the 2018 results, the market outlook remains positive. Despite the major economic challenges of the last five years, 71% of survey participants said they are optimistic about the future of their business. The survey also revealed that the industry is adapting to the changing environment and looking for new growth opportunities. According to the report, the companies surveyed reported an average 7% increase in turnover since the 2018 Census. In 2018, the average annual turnover was €4.4 million, and in 2023, the average was €4.7 million, an increase of €330,000.

Increasing demands for sustainability
The Census confirmed the increasing pressure on print service providers and sign makers; 72 % of all print buyers demand sustainable and environmentally friendly products and business practices. 25% of respondents said that their customers place the highest value on sustainable products. A focus on sustainable manufacturing was reported by 12% of respondents. For customers of most printers (36%), both are important. Perceived cost increases are often a barrier to sustainable production. Nevertheless, 70 % of the survey participants stated that they can meet the sustainability requirements without increasing their prices. By their own admission, another 22% have already raised their prices without impacting sales.

Further market changes due to customer demands
The industry is under the influence of changing customer demands, such as shorter delivery times, the desire for more personalisation and versioning, and shorter runs. 67% of survey participants said that demand for shorter delivery times is increasing. According to 58 %, the demand for shorter runs is increasing and 56 % the interest in versioning and personalisation. In contrast, only 38% of respondents noted that demand for more complex logistical requirements is increasing.

Plans to purchase large format printing systems
The survey revealed that print service providers are interested in investing in technology to optimise production processes and increase application flexibility. For the 201 survey participants who own screen printing and large format printing systems*, inkjet printing with UV-curable inks (27%), inkjet printing with eco-solvent inks (18%) and CNC finishing (17%) are the highest priorities for their investment plans.

Business expansion drives investment in technology
When asked why they plan to invest in new technology, 55% of respondents said they want to enter new markets and expand their service offerings. 53% want to improve print quality first and foremost. 52% want to reduce unit costs.

Graeme Richardson-Locke, Head of Associations & Technical Lead at FESPA, says:
“It is really positive that our community is so optimistic not only about the future of our industry but also about their own potential business growth. The survey has once again confirmed that ever-changing customer demands and the increasing demand for sustainable solutions are among the biggest challenges currently facing print service providers, sign and signage manufacturers. Thanks to the responses from our community, we can now tailor our offering further. Most importantly, we hope our community will use the Census results to benchmark themselves against similar businesses around the world and make informed decisions about their future.“

FESPA is an association of trade associations founded in 1962 and organises exhibitions and conferences for the screen and digital printing industries. FESPA’s two objectives are to promote screen printing and digital imaging and to share knowledge of screen and digital printing among its members around the world to support the expansion of their businesses and to keep them informed of the latest developments in their fast-growing industries.

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