In 2016 the printing market across Europe is valued at €159.2 billion, producing the equivalent of some 13.2 trillion A4 prints and consuming just over 68 million tonnes of printing substrates. Packaging represented 44.7% of the market by value in 2011; this rises to 56.6% by 2021.
The European print market is driven from the end-user communication preferences of individuals, who have greater choice in communication with new channels including social media replacing print products. This is severe in newspaper, magazine, book, catalogue and graphic products, less so in packaging where the physical properties of the pack are key.
“Much print promotes goods and services where it is in competition with other media, with new channels grabbing share of the expenditure, at the expense of print in many cases. Internet and social media, the digital channels including mobile, have grown strongly as brands and retailers develop their communications with customers and new retail channels come to the fore,” says Sean Smyth, author of the report.
“There is evidence that print remains an important part of the mix, but it has to be effective and cost-competitive to be used. The media landscape is continuing to develop with influential figures in advertising starting to question the effectiveness of some digital growth, increasingly asking for better metrics on the effectiveness of digital.”
Print demand is driven by many factors, but the economic environment and advertising expenditure are important. Across Europe there is a great deal of economic uncertainty within the macro-economic landscape and it determines much of the confidence in government, business and individuals, and their ability or wish to spend money on print. Economic uncertainty has plagued Europe since the financial crash and successive Eurozone crises. Governments have tried many strategies from austerity to high spending programmes but uncertainty remains, depressing print expenditure.
Despite the uncertainty, print remains an important communication channel that is competing for the attention of millions of European consumers. The methods of production are developing with new technologies being introduced that change the costs of print production at high quality. Printing remains a large business, with real growth in printed packaging as publication and graphics print declines across Europe.