Canon study reveals fast pace of change in print industry

DUBAI: The Canon ME Printing Industry Market Study 2020 has revealed that the print industry is at a turning point and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for print service providers to transform their objectives and operational model, and to look toward new avenues to diversify their offerings. Canon Middle East (CME) revealed the study’s results during a webinar on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 hosted in partnership with ME Printer Magazine.

The study recognizes the varied opinions between corporates and print service providers on the evolution of the industry, especially with regards to sustainable printing solutions, and aims to establish closer dialogue on the issue between both groups. It also gives an in-depth look into the opportunities, challenges and the latest market trends in the region during COVID-19, more specifically within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The industry-first study also supports print service providers looking to implement an informed and sustainable business strategy based on their customers’ requirements in a post-COVID world.

Shadi Bakhour, B2B Business Unit Director, Canon Middle East, said: “With the onset of the pandemic and the lockdown, we knew that there is going to be an impact on the print. There was already a change in motion with the natural progression brought forth by digital trends and new print sectors emerging, but we believe the change was accelerated by COVID-19 and put the industry on a path where transformation was now a necessity.

Our objective is to support the print industry in the region, and conducting the Canon ME Printing Industry Market Study 2020 early on allows businesses and stakeholders in the sector to make solid strategic decisions and capitalize on the opportunities that are now available based on these new insights.” The study was conducted between June 2020 until the first week of July 2020 with print service providers as well as corporates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the Levant.

Out of the countries surveyed, there was a consensus between industry stakeholders that business opportunities will become available predominantly in KSA and UAE as the top two growth markets as the region progresses with the recovery phase. The study also highlighted the opposing opinions between print businesses and corporates regarding sustainability. While 53 percent of corporates are transitioning to sustainable printing solutions in the coming months, 40 percent of print businesses believe pricing is a major concern and have not yet invested in sustainable products to answer the rising demand.

With environmental regulations being adopted globally, and the pandemic increasing the pressure on governments and businesses to follow sustainable business practices, print service providers will eventually have to invest in sustainable technology if they are to remain competitive in the market. This insight presents an opportunity to narrow the gap between print businesses and their customers in the immediate future.

Some of the challenges indicated by print service providers include minimal financing options or unstable supply and demand trends. However, only 21 percent feel digitization is a major challenge, indicating the industry has already embraced this trend with the majority of print service providers agreeing that cloud-enabled digital workflow services were already adding value to their overall workflow.

These insights on the decline of print volumes and the transition toward digital solutions are correlated by the significant number of print service providers (64 percent) indicating they plan to diversify their print business into new areas of printing – with 30 percent planning on investing in new digital machinery in the near future to achieve this objective and meet customers’ demands for shorter print runs.

From a printing perspective, the study highlights that corporates see a decline regarding in-office printing, especially with the rise of working-from-home schemes, with 35 percent believing that the move towards digitization is inevitable. A majority, 69 percent, also agree that printing will still be used for major company or product announcements.