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Last updateFri, 29 May 2020 5am
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Printers adapting to challenging market conditions by successfully launching new products and services

This year’s drupa Spotlight report, Strategic choices in a competitive and converging marketplace, will be published in May. In a survey (conducted before the coronavirus outbreak) over 500 printers and almost 200 suppliers described the challenges and successes of launching new products and services. For many in the industry, planning their recovery from the coronavirus recession may well necessitate such launches, so lessons must be drawn on how best to do so.

In most market sectors and most regions there are very challenging conditions. As for suppliers, they are only as healthy as their customers and they too must respond to the declining prospects for traditional products and services. For many the answer must be, at least in part, to launch new products and services.
“Commodity printing is overtraded, move away from commodity printing or close your doors.” Commercial printer, South Africa
Roughly 60% of printers launched major new products or services in the last four years into their existing markets. About half the launches were successful and very few went badly wrong. Diversifying the range of products/services and gaining new customers were chosen as the top benefits. As for the drawbacks, most reported that the launches sucked in far too much staff time and other resources and often ran well behind schedule.
About 30% of printers had launched into new market sectors. This is clearly a more difficult challenge and the results reflected that, with c.40% of the launches going well (compared with 54% for existing markets).
Turning to suppliers, approximately 80% launched new products/services over the last four years. The results were clearly better the larger the company with a success rate of 40% for the smallest suppliers up to 80% for the largest. The top benefits were diversification and gaining new customers. The biggest problems by far were launches running late and sucking in too many resources, while building the correct channels to market was a common challenge.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, 76% of printers and 85% of suppliers were either definitely or possibly launching new products or services in the next four years. Clearly that will mean investment, with digital print technology followed by finishing being the most popular targets for printers.
The report will draw four key lessons on how best to succeed when launching new products or services:
Launching new services and products needs proper well-prepared processes
Careful selection and development is essential – no knee-jerk reactions
Plan conservatively – expect delays and complications
Manage your expectations – be realistic
These two quotes from panel participants underline them:
“The most important lesson has been to define plans with the ability to adapt to rapid changes in market and customers’ demands. The challenge is to grow by introducing new product or services areas while maintaining the existing ones.” Packaging printer, Puerto Rico
“The switch from print to print + digital is essential for the survival of the graphic industries. Customers are no longer waiting. If you cannot provide the service they request, they will leave you, because a competitor, who has been able to adapt and develop new services, will take the market.” Commercial market supplier, France
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