FESPAs latest Economy Survey has revealed that 70% of respondents are looking to diversify their business to improve business growth. The top areas in which print service providers (PSPs) plan to develop into are interiors (17.4%), label printing (16.67%) and signage (15.53%). Reflecting on 2011 end of year sales, 20.4% of respondents said they were better than expected, a fifth said they were better than 2010, and 40% reported that they have done as expected.

Over half believe that the market has not fully recovered (52.44%) but the outlook of printers remains optimistic despite the challenging environment, with three quarters of respondents believing that the market will grow in 2012, with an average expected growth of 14.5% across the year for their business.

The Economy Survey was commissioned by FESPA and carried out by its research partner InfoTrends on behalf of its global wide format community. As part of FESPAs Profit for Purpose reinvestment programme, the main objective of the survey is to collect valuable insight into market trends and gauge business outlook for 2012 and beyond. The information was gathered from 225 respondents who are engaged in wide format printing from across the world.

Over half of those who took part in the survey were printers (52.9%); one fifth were resellers and 10.2% manufacturers. Europe dominated the surveys geographical split with over half of respondents (57.3%) located in the region, followed by North America, Asia, Africa, South America and Middle East respectively.

According to the survey, a third (33.3%) of respondents said that the primary reason for investing in a new wide format printer would be to accommodate different media and/or a wider range of applications with output quality and running costs being the other top criteria. A UV-curable inkjet printer was the highest area of investment (50%), followed by latex or another durable aqueous inkjet printer (31.6%).

62.7% of respondents indicated that green printing, or printing using more environmentally-friendly practices has seen an increase in demand as a service, with over one fifth planning to invest in an eco-or light solvent printer. Over a third (36.9%) also cited seeing a rise in customer demand in applications requiring white ink printing, 35.6% in versioning/variable data printing and 23.1% in printing QR codes or other interactive elements.

Printers believe that there are some challenges within the area of digital signage, with 80% of respondents believing that digital displays has, is or will impact on wide format digital print applications. Of the 80%, impact on POP graphics was deemed to be greatest (23.3%), followed by billboards, backlit, and vehicle graphics respectively.

FESPA Managing Director Neil Felton said, We know that our global wide format community looks forward to the findings and emerging trends identified in the FESPA Economy Survey. It is heartening that our survey results show that PSPs have optimism in their own entrepreneurialism. It is a very positive sign that over 70% of respondents plan to diversify their business to increase their bottom line. This commercial intelligence will inevitably stand PSPs in good stead over the forthcoming year.

The findings are also encouraging for the FESPA Digital 2012 event that will enable PSPs to Explore the Wider Opportunities.  As our campaign collateral says, business is a journey with challenges and opportunities along the way. No printer needs to feel they are at a standstill; there are proactive business decisions they can consider, for example, can they try to implement new technologies or processes, diversify into different wide format applications, experiment with new substrates and inks, develop new services or business models, increase automation, offer more complete end-to-end solutions, or even move into entirely new market segments, said Felton.

With 400 exhibitors in a single giant hall, and the charismatic city of Barcelona as the backdrop, a visit to FESPA Digital 2012 is guaranteed to give wide format print service providers all the information and insight they need to plan the next stage of their own journey and build their business.

The full FESPA/InfoTrends Economy Survey 5 is available as a benefit to members of FESPA affiliated associations, visit www.fespa.com to find out about your national association.

Forthcoming FESPA events include:
*    FESPA Digital 2012, 21-24 February 2012, Barcelona, Spain
*    FESPA Fabric 2012, 21-24 February 2012, Barcelona, Spain
*    FESPA Mexico 2012, 20-22 September 2012, Mexico City, Mexico
*    FESPA 2013, 25-29 June 2013, London, UK
*    FESPA Digital 2014, 20-23 May 2014, Munich, Germany