Industry reports: showstopper or doorstopper?
What do you think?
POST A COMMENT
By Laurel Brunner
18 April 2012
FESPA has reinvested over €1.6m (£1.3m) since 2005 in association member projects to educate and inspire wide-format printers
There is a massive business in most industries in producing long, fat and expensive reports. The graphic arts sector is no different and there are loads of companies offering up such doorstoppers. But are they really any use in business planning, particularly for sign and display producers?
Companies such as InfoTrends and Gartner are keen gatherers of market data and their target markets are generally large enterprises. It matters not so much that the material gets read or remembered, as that it gets purchased. Market analysts do masses of in-depth interviews with technology manufacturers and buyers. They survey customers, and do extensive analyses of sales and marketing data from multiple sources. They put their data into a thicket of graphs and charts, and snuggle them cosily round with a carefully considered graphic arts context. Generally that context is meaningful for different sectors, including the display and sign-making one.
This type of market research work is solid and mostly trustworthy. It gets reliably trotted out whenever manufacturers want to convince potential customers of the rightness of their investment decisions. Unless they are mega-sized, sign-makers rarely bother to buy market analysis reports themselves.
For the last few years the projections for sales and volumes of material printed in wide-format print applications have risen, in line with the spread of digital technologies. The rate of market growth obviously reflects replacement sales into analogue sites and sales of new kit to entrepreneurs who recognise the potential in wide-format printing. So it's a healthy business for the people who gather data and it's a healthy business for the people who sell machines: they don't have to scrabble about looking for their own data with which to convince buyers.
But is this type of material any use for a wide-format printer's business planning? In some ways it might be of more use in a different context, such as when FESPA worked with InfoTrends on its Reinvestment Vision. This publication summarises FESPA's heritage and milestone achievements, but also explains the projects that the association is involved in. FESPA funds member projects based on how useful they are for members, their educational value and impact. This type of work is very useful for sign and display producers because the projects, over 70 of which FESPA has supported in the 26 countries where FESPA has a presence, provide direct market support. They range from projects such as the FESPA portal site through to training.
When it comes to how useful industry analysis is for business planning, the key difference is time. Historic activities and performance are tangible and knowable, whereas projections are just that: educated guesstimates. This might be why sign and display firms prefer to follow their own noses, rather than read about where they should be headed.
Comments in chronological order (Total 0 comments)
There are no comments yet for this article.