When we talk about the future of digital printing, we talk about variable data and how the future of print marketing is in 1:1 / personalized printing. But does that mean that volumes of data-driven printing are growing? Or if they are, that marketing applications are driving the growth? Not necessarily.
On October 31, Pira is releasing a report “The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017” that I am currently finishing writing. In it, there are some sobering statistics. I’m not sure at this point what numbers I can release, so I’ll just speak in generalities for now.
Globally, VDP is forecast to rise only incrementally between 2012-17. In the areas of promotion and marketing, it’s forecast to be down incrementally — something that flies in the face of conventional wisdom.
In this industry, we talk about the value of ROI, real-time tracking, monitoring, metrics, and measurement, personalization and relevance, and so on, as driving growth in the markets. To a certain extent, that’s true. It drives a shift in the ratio between static and personalized printing in some markets. But this isn’t a blanket statement we can make.
VDP is also used for pure production efficiency and serialization, which is something we don’t talk about much but which, according to these global Pira numbers, is a much larger factor in overall market growth than VDP for marketing and promotion.
For a long time, there has been a disconnect between the promise and reality when it comes to the opportunities in VDP for the average printer. The more I fully absorb these Pira statistics, the more I see why. VDP offers growth potential, but it’s in pockets. It’s in certain applications, in certain geographies, and using certain production processes. If you have the right application but wrong process, if you have the right process but wrong geography, it’s no wonder it’s such a tough row to hoe.