The Dalai Lama once said, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new."
This is something that at FESPA rings true. Effectively listening to you, our global print community, means that we can represent your needs and understand the growth opportunities and challenges that you are facing.
To do this we must maintain a constant and open dialogue with our global network of stakeholders including: our national Associations and their members, exhibitors and visitors at our international exhibitions, delegates at our events, analysts and industry editors.
One way of listening to our community is through the FESPA Print Census, our global research initiative that aims to gather key insight and trends that support our understanding of the challenges and opportunities available for print service providers (PSPs). The findings we collect and interpret help to shape our events and member benefit tools, for the advantage of our global print community.
In 2015 we announced the outcomes of our first FESPA Print Census. Over the last couple of years we have used these to shape our events and exhibitions which take place around the world.
The six salient trends to come from the 2015 Census were:
These findings have helped us to develop the visitor propositions for our global exhibition and events portfolio, as well as spur online content and further research pieces, to reflect the current needs and opportunities for our speciality print community.
One dominant trend running throughout the Census findings was the growth in digital textile printing. 81% of respondents were seeing growth in this segment, the highest of any other application. Development of textile printing is a trend that we’ve seen globally, with significant increases of textile exhibits across our global exhibition portfolio.
Our last FESPA global print expo in Hamburg saw an incredible 23% increase in textile exhibitors compared with the previous Europe-based event. Anticipating this growth through the Census findings meant that we were able to align the event content with this area of visitor interest, ensuring that there was strong educational content on textile applications in our seminar programme.
Textile printing as a whole emerged as the prevailing growth trend from the last Census, with textile printing for garment and décor highlighting huge possibilities and textile printing for soft signage not far behind. In 2016 we made the logical decision to re-brand our six-year old garment decoration zone – FESPA Fabric – to ‘FESPA Textile’ to reflect the broader spectrum of textile applications including garments, interiors, banners and signage.
Census feedback on the market’s appetite for textile also motivated us to run a Digital Textile Conference in 2015 to explore the fast developing trends in this speciality market segment.
In 2016, we repeated the conference in regions where there is a high concentration of textile production, such as northern Italy, to highlight the opportunities to producers in these regions and illustrate how they could capitalise on digital textile printing technology to meet evolving customer demand.
The other trends to emerge from the 2015 Census have also been reflected through our events portfolio. For example, the trend towards the integration of live media with sign and display has featured in our content programme at our European Sign Expo event, helping our signmaking community understand and embrace this medium and educating them on how they can implement digital media alongside their traditional signage offering.
Our interior décor showcase, Printeriors, has brought to life the shift from mass production to mass customisation through a variety of printed interior décor applications including bedding, cushions, wallpaper etc.
Happily, optimism in our sector has been steadily increasing over the decade since the 2008 global financial crisis. Back in 2009, we launched the FESPA Economy Survey, at which point only 14% of respondents were reporting signs of recovery. Fast forward to the 2015 Census results and we could see that 80% of respondents are now optimistic for their business, signalling that the industry has re-built and that individual players have confidence in their own business, as well as the wider industry.
This increase in optimism has also been reflected in the way FESPA’s own campaigns have evolved. We’ve moved from themes that focused on innovation and discovery as a means of restoring business confidence, towards confident campaigns that celebrate print and encourage PSPs to take their business further.
For the FESPA global print expo in 2017 the campaign theme was ‘Dare to Print Different’, an upbeat, positive message which challenged printers to look for ways to differentiate their offering to expand their businesses’ boundaries.
One of the key factors in helping PSPs to emerge stronger from the economic downturn has undoubtedly been the advance of digital technology, and the first Census findings affirmed the extent to which digital printing is a key enabler for multiple applications.
A decade after we launched the dedicated FESPA Digital event in 2006, this insight empowered our decision to integrate the stand-alone Digital event within an all-encompassing annual FESPA global print expo which embraces all technologies and applications. Consequently, FESPA now truly offers a single destination event in Europe, showcasing all technologies, processes and applications across the whole spectrum of speciality print.
The second edition of the FESPA Print Census, which launched in February 2017, will be another key piece of research for us and our global print community. Yet again, the findings will enable us to create stronger value for our members and visitors and tailor our offering precisely to the changing needs of today’s PSPs.
To take part in this global research initiative, visit www.fespa.com/completemycensus to have your say on where the industry is headed.