According to a new report from Smithers Pira, “The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017,” we finally can put some numbers on the overall growth opportunity for variable data printing. These are not hard numbers since Pira does not track the difference between variable and static clicks, but they are “max ceiling” numbers based on total 100% digital + digital preprint/overprint numbers.
Smithers Pira projects the global variable data printing (VDP) market opportunity (not including catalogs and packaging) to be 656,756 million sheets in 2012 or 28% of total output in the areas under review. It forecasts VDP market opportunity to be 853,097 million sheets in 2017 or 34% of total output in the areas under review.
What’s particularly interesting about these numbers is that globally, Pira forecasts traditional print/preprint output to fall by 0.5% CAGR between 2012–17. This tells us that the opportunity for VDP is coming from the overall cannibalization of digital from offset.
Pira forecasts electrophotography, for example, to grow by 1.5% CAGR and inkjet to grow at CAGR of 14.2% on a global basis. Likewise, 100% digital output is forecast to almost double from 8.2% market share to 14.2%.
In a global print market that is essentially showing stasis or declines in output volumes, these numbers are really striking. We’ve known for a long time that digital is cannibalizing offset, but these forecasts give us some idea of how quickly and to what extent.
As digital market share grows, so does the lure of VDP. Not just for personalization in marketing, but also for process improvement, cost reduction, and efficiency. In fact, these are the areas in which Pira found the opportunities for VDP to be the greatest.
Process improvement is not sexy, but volume is volume, and the more printers start thinking of VDP as a process, not just a marketing approach, the more those opportunities will continue to open up. Plus, process improvement is an easier sell!