Americans were struggling with too much screen time before the pandemic began.

Now, a year later, a “light” user spends seven hours on electronic devices. Meanwhile, a “heavy” user spends a whopping 17.5 hours every day staring at a screen.

With this drastic shift to digital mediums, you might assume the print industry is dead β€” or at least on life support.

But is that really the case? Are there still opportunities in the printing industry for business owners in 2021? What’s the overall outlook for the future of the printing industry?

The answers may surprise you. Keep reading for the latest print industry news.

How Did COVID-19 Affect the Print Industry?

How Did COVID-19 Affect the Print Industry

Like every other business, the COVID-19 pandemic had a tremendous effect on the print industry.

During the second quarter of 2020, the printing industry experienced a whopping 30% decline in revenue. By the start of last summer, less than half of printing businesses in the US had reopened at full capacity.

It’s not hard to understand why β€” the demand simply wasn’t there.

Major events from the Summer Olympics to the Oscars were canceled on short notice. Closer to home, an untold number of weddings, concerts, festivals, and other events were also canceled or postponed.

The result? There was no need for the posters, flyers, tickets, invitations, and other printed items people would normally order for these events.

But that was last year, and now it’s 2021. The pandemic continues, but what about the print industry? Is there reason to hope that things will get better in the future?

The Future of the Printing Industry

So far our discussion has been bleak, but there’s light on the horizon. Let’s take a look at some exciting changes ahead for the print industry in 2021 (and beyond).

1. Integration With Digital Technology

Digital printing is one of the biggest and most exciting changes for the future of the print industry. Each new type of digital technology presents another opportunity for the print industry to adapt and evolve.

One of the best examples is 3D printing. What seemed impossible a decade ago is now a reality, such as 3D printing a 25-foot, 5,000-pound boat.

What’s the connection? Traditional printing and 3D printing use the same heads as inkjets β€” just with a different medium.

Another example of the way traditional and digital printing can overlap? Nintendo Switch’s Labo game includes printed cardboard costumes so players can experience what it’s like to be a robot.

Experts predict that augmented and virtual reality will continue to offer new print opportunities in the future.

2. Increased Customization

The days of ordering a million copies of the same flyer or catalog might be gone, but that’s probably a good thing. New innovations in printing allow customers to place smaller orders. These can be are highly customized for their target audience.

This is good news not only for your marketing budget but for the environment as well.

In addition, you can create custom items with so much more than your company logo. Commercial printers are expanding their offerings to include variable data printing, as well as layout and design services.

In a world where everyone craves (and even expects) that personal touch, the demand for custom print options will continue to grow.

3. Web-to-Print Portals

Franchises or businesses that operate in many locations often have trouble keeping their branding cohesive.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was one online portal where marketing managers could go to order supplies, signage, and branded merchandise?

That’s exactly what’s happening with so many web-to-print portals popping up online. Store managers can log in to the portal and have instant access to any printed materials or supplies they need.

This is an example of print-on-demand services at their finest.

4. New Market Opportunities

New Market Opportunities

Ecommerce grew an astounding 44% in 2020, accounting for over 21% of all retail purchases. Amazon continues to be the biggest player, but online sales opportunities abound for businesses of any size.

First impressions are everything, which presents an ideal way for the print industry to step up to the plate. Everyone is buying everything online these days. Millennials especially expect to receive well-designed, high-quality printed packaging and labels.

Speaking of labels, the demand for printed labels is growing exponentially. From food items to pharmaceuticals to hygienic products, everything ordered online needs accompanying printed labels.

Another market that’s exploded recently is subscription box services. There are over 3,500 companies selling weekly or monthly subscription boxes for every product imaginable.

Each of these services offers print companies another chance to expand their offerings and bridge the gap between the digital and physical world.

5. Wide Format Printing

A final area we’ll consider is the print industry’s ability to make bigger and better products.

Wide-format marketing is everywhere you look, from walls and windows to floors and billboards. It’s relatively inexpensive and it allows companies to make quick changes to their branding and messaging.

Wide-format printing isn’t limited to large-scale business operations, either. Some printing companies are using the latest technology to print digital wallpaper, artwork, and other home decor.

Another fascinating use for inkjet printing is creating printed ceramic tiles. This allows any design or pattern to be seamlessly imprinted on tiles for home or commercial use.

Printing Industry Overview: The Future Looks Bright

Printing Industry Overview The Future Looks Bright

Far from being dead (or even being on life support), the print industry is set to transform in the coming years.

No, it won’t look exactly the same as it did before 2020. With so many exciting new technologies, though, the printing industry is poised to be more dynamic and more successful than ever before.

Now that you’ve got a solid printing industry overview, what’s next? Keep browsing our site for more fascinating articles!

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